The Pursuit: Waiting Years For the Perfect Place

by Shilpi Paul

The Pursuit: Waiting Years For the Perfect Place: Figure 1
Living room that opens to a patio

In 2009, web manager Rich Custer decided that the nest egg he had been contributing to since 2006 had gotten large enough, and he started looking to buy a one-bedroom condo.

Like many buyers these days, Custer had been carefully crafting a list of must-haves for years. For example, he knew that he wanted the amenities he’d grown accustomed to while renting a one-bedroom apartment in a DC high-rise, such as a pool, a balcony and an on-site gym. He also preferred new construction and wanted to stay near the neighborhood of Thomas Circle/Logan Circle.

As Custer looked around, the vision of his perfect condo came into greater and greater focus. After examining essentially everything available in his price point — about $400,000 — he even developed preferences for a certain architecture firm, Esocoff and Associates, and gravitated towards their buildings: Clara Barton and Lafayette, 400 Mass, The Whitman and 1010 Mass.

The Pursuit: Waiting Years For the Perfect Place: Figure 2
Rich Custer

One floorplan at Clara Barton and Lafayette seemed just right: a nice layout, two balconies, and a large rooftop pool. “I felt it was perfect,” Custer told UrbanTurf. The problem? No units with this perfect layout were listed for-sale. So, Custer decided to wait it out.

“Once I’d settled on ‘the’ unit, I was pretty much just waiting for one of them to come on the market,” he remembers.

About a year went by. Custer looked at a few other buildings, but nothing struck him in the same way that the unit at Clara Barton and Lafayette did. He liked the Dumont, but the building was in a tricky foreclosure situation (and eventually went rental). His real estate agent sent a few letters to owners of the perfect Clara Barton units, but no one responded.

Around that time, Custer’s father became very sick, and his housing search was put on hold. His father died in 2010, and in regrouping after the passing, he decided to expand his search.

“I felt it would be fitting to put the money I had inherited towards buying a bigger/better condo,” said Custer.

This time around, he had more luck finding units that appealed to him. A condo at CityVista came on the market right before a planned vacation, but by the time he got back, it had found a buyer. A penthouse unit with sweeping views at Yale Steam Laundry came close to being the one, but ultimately the lack of outdoor space kept Custer from making an offer.

Once again, the Clara Barton and Lafayette drew him in, and soon he had his heart set on a two-bedroom duplex layout with a private patio and interior courtyard. Sixteen such units existed, but none were on the market. So, Custer was once again playing the waiting game.

However, by the time 2012 rolled around, condo inventory had really dwindled in the city and Custer was desperate to move into a new home. “I started to think I might have to compromise on my must-haves,” decided Custer.

The Whitman at 910 M Street NW had a two-bedroom listing with outdoor space that checked many of Custer’s boxes. The square footage was just right, and it came with two parking spaces. He worried that aspects of the layout made the space feel cramped, but the price was on the lower end of his range, and Custer suspected that a few renovations would transform the condo into something close to his idea of the perfect home.

The Pursuit: Waiting Years For the Perfect Place: Figure 3
The Whitman

After three years, Custer finally made an offer on a home. With the help of an escalation clause, he beat out three other bidders and closed on the unit in mid-June. His patient approach may not have yielded a walk-in ready dream home, but Custer plans on fixing that.

“Not everything about The Whitman is quite as nice as the Clara Barton, but it’s a very nice place in a great location that is only going to get better,” he said. “I’m now in consultation with a design firm to do some modifications to address some of the interior shortcomings and soup the place up to really make it a place I will love — for around the final price I was planning to pay somewhere else.”

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See other articles related to: the whitman, the pursuit, dclofts, clara barton

This article originally published at http://dc.urbanturf.com/articles/blog/the_pursuit_waiting_years_for_the_perfect_place/5793


  1. DS said at 8:20 pm on Tuesday July 24, 2012:
    I feel the same way!
  1. Beth said at 9:07 pm on Tuesday July 24, 2012:
    Like Rich, I had a looooooong search, lasting almost 3.5 years. I was very picky and had some regrets about letting certain listings pass me by, but in the end, found a great two-bedroom. Nice to hear that others had searches which lasted as long as mine!
  1. O Boy said at 9:45 pm on Tuesday July 24, 2012:
    A case history for kvetching?
  1. Andy said at 11:53 pm on Tuesday July 24, 2012:
    Congrats Rich. Nice to see you found what you were looking for.
  1. makeba said at 3:01 am on Wednesday July 25, 2012:
    This architecture has staying power & its one of my favorite buildings in the city. All the rest I like are the old ones.
  1. Q-Street said at 11:33 pm on Wednesday July 25, 2012:
    Love that building
  1. anon said at 11:44 pm on Wednesday July 25, 2012:
    i too took 3 years to find the right one for the 1st and 2nd property. it is important to be patient and to become familiar with stock and market and then make the choice you are 100% certain is good.
  1. mel said at 2:08 pm on Thursday July 26, 2012:
    I've also been looking on and off (but mostly on) for over 3 years. I've circled many of the same buildings, and have a similar wish list, too. I finally made an offer recently at asking price on a unit at The Lafayette and lost out in a multiple bid situation. I guess this gives me hope, and I should keep hanging in there. Remarkable how things have changed since I began my hunt. My first weekend looking in the spring of 2009 I saw 25 places in my price range. Inventory is much, much lower now!
  1. Richko said at 4:09 pm on Thursday July 26, 2012:
    Thanks for the comments; glad my story resonates with some other house-hunters. Not expressed in this article, though, is my deep gratitude to my long-suffering agent who not only stuck with me through the long search but also helped me bring it to a successful conclusion.
  1. Curious said at 6:09 pm on Thursday July 26, 2012:
    Rich, curious who your agent was?
  1. Richko said at 6:50 pm on Thursday July 26, 2012:
    Hope it's okay to post that -- Veronica Seva-Gonzalez with Brandon Green Companies. She was just great!

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