Good Deal or Not – Condo Time


Located at 1017 Monroe St., #1 this condo is a stone’s throw from Columbia Heights Coffee and Red Rocks. The flier says renovated in 2006, 3 bedrooms 2.5 bathrooms, 1344 square feet, 2 levels, private back deck, and condo fees of $200 per month. The asking price is $499,000. So good deal or not?

17 Comment

  • I’ve been in this unit. It has a large open floor plan on the upper floor (which is the entry level). The bedrooms are in the basement; they’re small and have poor closet space. An open area in the center of the basement takes precious square footage without providing any tangible benefit. The kitchen is modern and very open but the cabinets don’t appear to be in great shape.

    I continue to be amazed that the condo market can support this price, which seems to be the going rate for this kind of thing. You can get a whole house in this neighborhood for the same price, as long as you’re willing to take on some some maintenance and do some few upgrades. If the “condo association” is just you and the person upstairs, it isn’t as if you’re somehow insulated from those things in a condo. And your $200 fee isn’t going to magically protect you from large maintenance items.

  • Sounds like a pretty great deal to me. Though I’m no expert at condo fees, $200 a month sounds like a bit much, no?

  • I think it’s way too much, as it’s too far from a Metro for even a full townhouse to warrant half a mill. And the kitchen and fireplace are cheaply done. Though the condo fees seem like a deal.


  • Way too expensive. Look closely at the bedroom photos–the bedrooms are all on the basement level, with tiny, barred windows.

  • The person showing the place told me that the “condo fee” was essentially negotiable between the buyer and the building’s only other resident. That’s exactly my point: I live in a house of my own but I could call it a “condo” and vote to assess myself any monthly fee I wanted, or no fee at all. But it doesn’t change the amount of maintenance that will be required.

  • Oh never mind, disregard what I said before. Didn’t realize one of the floors included the basement – then it’s overpriced.

  • I mean maybe someone will pay that. but what I dont get is who are these idiots that pay for half a house what they could get an Entire house for on the same block. For instance. on the little section of 18th street between Harvard and Lanier. There is a converted 2 unit town house. The top unit going for over EIGHT HUNDRED. The finishes are nice yes. but the entire house NEXT DOOR went for 555,000. im sure it needed a lot of work but if you have 800 to spend. would it not be a much better investment to buy a whole house for 555 and spend 245,000 fixing it up. then to buy some top of the line condo and have to share the parking and the front porch and have a condo fee to boot.

  • Anonymous,
    There are a lot of people in this area that just are not remotely interested in a fixer upper. As such, they will pay up for the risk and hard work that someone else put into making the place nice. Even if they get less sq. ft.

    Mostly investors would buy the 555K home. And they would sell to the former type of person I mentioned.


  • I agree with nate (which I don’t find myself doing very often). Not everyone wants to buy a project and live in sawdust, tripping over paint cans and extension cords, with contractors walking through your life for a year+, all in the name of equity. More power to the ones who do though!

    But I still think that asking price is unreasonable. Before prices started falling, you’d find nicers condos in the 450 range (and many would find that high). For this price, I wouldn’t except stainless appliances, I’d expect gold-plated ones.

  • Parkwood,
    you probably agree with me moreso than you think. Anyway, I looked at the condos above The heights this weekends. Oh my, they are EXPENSIVE! They have some condos in there for $650K. The cheapest I saw was ~$450K. I’d buy this house before I would buy one of those condos. But in general, I wouldn’t buy a condo at all. I’ll stick to buying fixer upper houses.

  • Show me a decent house that can be bought for under 500K in Columbia Heights. It just isn’t there. First time buyers simply can’t afford to buy anything but a condo, overpriced or not. I recently paid around 450 for a 950 sf 2br condo close to metro in a small building in Columbia heights. Trust me if i could have bought a house I would. You can’t really get a fairly priced mortgage over 417K. They say they have raised the conforming loan limit, but in my recent experience the rates went way up for anything over the original Fannie/Freddie conforming limit of 417. At that price it is condo, dumpy house, or house really far away in a neighborhood you don’t really want to be in. I wanted to be in columbia heights/mount pleasant and I don’t consider anything much farther east of 11th street to really be an option (nor in Columbia Heights), for both safety and transportation reasons.

  • Am I the only person who thinks this whole building is stupid – a two unit condo? Why is this building/house a condo in the first place? It was better as a house on the above ground 3 floors and a rental unit in the basement.

  • Think the place is crazy overpriced for a basement unit in a rowhouse that is still a distance from a metro.

    But, I can understand (in theory) the price difference pointed out b/n a renovated condo unit in a rowhouse and a complete rowhouse that needs work–even if I wish it weren’t the case. The majority of people buying are not buying real estate outright. That is, sure you could buy a house for $550k and spend $250k to renovate it (or less), or you could buy a $800k renovate condo unit that isn’t as good, but the truth of the matter is that you’re only paying 5-20% of that $800k condo (so, $40k-$160k) and a mortgage is paying the rest. Not everyone has both a downpayment AND the $150k-$250k sitting around in a bank account ready to use to renovate something. And renovation loans, in today’s environment of declining markets and credit crunches, aren’t exactly the easiest thing to count upon. So, it’s not just “I don’t want the hassle,” but the preverse predictment of “I can’t afford that cheaper house.”

  • Agree with ET, but would assume that the builders/investors thought it was worth more money as condos. Who knows they may be right. But I personally can think of several houses that are selling or sold for just a tad more and you get a whole house.

  • In response to “Show me a decent house that can be bought for under 500K in Columbia Heights. It just isn’t there.”

    No one says that you must be a home owner. There are a lot of benefits to renting. Just take a look around or; there are always stories of the rent v. own debate. It’s what makes sense for you in your life at the time in the current market environment.

  • “a distance from a metro”.. woah.. people are incredibly spoiled and, perhaps, gasp: lazy.

  • Yeah, that’s like a seven minute walk from CH metro. Probably seven minutes from Petworth too.

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