Dear PoP/Reader Requested Good Deal or Not?

1223587376762_Euclid_1, originally uploaded by Prince of Petworth.

“I am really curious to know if you think this house is a good deal or no.

It’s on Euclid between Sherman and Georgia. I stopped by the open house this past weekend and they’ve done a great job with the renovation and kept a lot of the character of the house. There is no backyard – just a deck with offstreet parking underneath the deck in back. And it’s on an alley.

Thoughts? Thanks!”

The property is located at 919 Euclid Street NW and is going for $399,900. The comments say:

“Absolutely stunning renovation with tons of character and historic charm! This three bedroom, two bath home has beautiful restored hardwood floors and woodwork, a brand new chef’s kitchen with granite and stainless steel appliances, a huge deck off of the kitchen and two new bathrooms with travertine tile. The master bedroom is sure to impress- with cathedral ceilings, exposed brick and three closets. The fully finished basement features a third bedroom, full bath and wet bar. The home includes off street parking and is conveniently located one block from Howard U and just a few blocks from U street and Columbia Heights!”

Wow, they had me at wet bar… Seriously, I do think this seems like a reasonable price. Personally, I prefer an end unit and don’t think it’s a big deal that it abuts an alley. I would suggest that you walk around the area a bit to see if you feel comfortable. I’d even suggest that you take the walk to the metro a few times if that will be your mode of transport. I think sellers are probably a bit flexible during these times so if you do put in a bid I don’t think it can hurt to go under asking maybe $350,000 and see what they counter with. What do you guys think?

20 Comment

  • That’s a cute little place — from what I can tell. I’m curious why the real estate agent would choose to show a picture of an vintage doorknob and not, say, the KITCHEN. Or a bathroom.

    I wish I had more insight into the pricing, but I’m sure others will.

  • Yeah I too found it curious that chef’s kitchen was not shown.

  • The problem with units that are next to alleys is that certain people tend to use the alley for less-than-savory purposes. Usually at 3am when you’re trying to sleep. So between the rats, the noise, and the alley’s use as a de facto commode, you’re in for a lot of cleanup work. The usual pre-buy rules apply: check the place out at 11pm on a Saturday night and see how loud/safe the neighborhood is.

    Also, I’ve found that no matter what city you go to (Chicago, LA, NYC, DC), you can always score drugs on Euclid.

  • This sounds too good to be true. There are drug dealers, rats and men pissing in every alley in Columbia Heights. So what’s the catch?

  • We bought a house from the group that did this one. Overall I still love the house, but whoever buys it should pay the money to have a real inspector do a thorough job on everything, including the electric and plumbing. This group does good finish work, but we had a potentially life-threatening problem we had to spend thousands to fix because they cut a couple corners and didn’t get the proper permits and inspection. Buyer Beware!!! And have a few thousand on hand for when you find what they didn’t do in this house…

  • To the reader: if you are looking for one with a fairly big backyard, there is one (I think foreclosure) on Quincy for (I think) about $325 (probably needs about 50k in reno though).

  • Drive by the house at night, around midnight and just sit on the street for an hour to see who hangs around and what is going on. Those small cross streets between Sherman and Georgia can draw some unsavory characters, and the street lighting is not so good.

    While change is coming to both Sherman and Georgia, be prepared to have some very interesting “street theater” for a few years.

  • There are benefits to living on an ally –more windows!

  • On its face, it certainly seems like a good enough deal. In 2006, certainly, it would have been a steal. And compared to condos (that include a monthly condo fee) that still are priced higher for less space and no parking, it seems reasonable, particularly if your other option is renting. Assuming further that the renovations are sound and it can be had for something less than asking price, it seems all the more reasonable.

    But, like all things around this area, it depends on the buyer’s level of tolerance for urban living. That’s not the safest or most convenient part of the world, and the inconveniences of living on an alley are well-documented above. The bottom line is that the alley qua toilet and de facto drug market probably isn’t going away any time soon, and gun shots will be a more common sound than anyone wants to admit. No one buying such a place should delude themselves into thinking it all will go away in the next year or so when some new development happens nearby. All that stuff can wear on you, but there’s also a lot to be said for living in the city if you can tolerate it, too.

  • Anon 9:16- We had the EXACT same experience. I would strongly caution folks against going with a Menkiti rehabbed home. As Anon 9:16 indicated, based on what was visible to two inspectors and my wife and me, the home was in excellent shape, but such was not really the case.

    Within weeks of moving in, we discovered a slow but persistent leak in one of the copper joints in the basement bathroom. It was part of the rehab, but had been done incorrectly, ruining a bunch of drywall and a plumber’s bill, fortunately no mold.

    Next, when installing a dimmer switch in our dining room, I discovered that rather than running appropriate wiring for a two way switch, they simply co opted the ground wire (not a good idea) as a hot wire.

    After a month or two, our “brand new” central air conditioning system stopped working, so we called to see if it was still under warranty. They sent out their contractor, who refilled the system with freon, promising to come back the next day to actually find the leak… they never returned and never returned a single phone call.

    However, this was all small compared to what we found in our basement. We were moving a wall to accommodate a smaller washer and dryer when we found that the washer was not vented or trapped (this is important basically because it prevents dangerous sewer gasses from entering the home) fearing other work being done incorrectly, we starting opening other walls in our basement bathroom, only to discover that nothing had been done correctly or to code. Nothing was properly vented, they had used an illegal s-trap on our kitchen sink, the connected our kitchen and bathroom sinks to the sewer by just jambing a pvc pipe into a cast iron drain. As our plumber was working to repair things, he literally had pipes falling down on his head because they had not been properly glued together. However, the most disgusting was the nonsense we found under our tub. Rather than use the right parts for the drain/trap, the workmen had simply heated up PVC piping with a torch and bent it into the shapes they needed. Obviously this weakens the pipe and restricts its overall flow, and is, of course, not up to code.

    We briefly attempted to work things out with the Menkiti Group, but they simply stopped responding to our emails, so it’s not just that we got a dud of a home, I truly believe this to be their MO.

    That was a lot of information to say BUYER BEWARE… if it is too good to be true, then is probably is. Do not buy a Menkiti home thinking you are getting, as they say, a quality product at a great price. Just as anon mentioned above, be prepared to shell out lots of money, or time, blood and sweat, just to make your home safe and habitable. What did Obama say, you can put lipstick on a pig, but it’s still a pig? Do we regret our purchase? No, we love our new home, we love our neighbors and I now watch “Ask This Old House” every night to figure out what needs to be done next. We have spent a considerable amount of money and I have spent more than a considerable amount of time fixing the place up. I would seriously suggest that you make this decision carefully.

  • Why would one not have a home inspector?

  • If you are referring to my post, we actually had two different home inspectors, the issue is, they can’t see these sorts of things as they are behind the walls. A home inspector can’t see things that are hidden under a concrete floor, behind drywall, and they can’t detect a freon leak. As their contracts state, they are only responsible for what they can see.

  • To Anon 11:05 – I was Anon 9:16. We had a home inspector, but i guess what i should have recommended is that you pay to bring in a code inspector and/or a licensed electrician and a licensed plumber.

  • Another thing I’d wonder from the pics…with the weirdo ceiling in the bedroom upstairs that removes the crawlspace above the ceiling and roof…what’s there? Is there no insulation at all? That seems like a bad idea to me, if that is the case (although I can’t really tell exactly what is going on from the pictures).

  • Why not just install a motion-sensitive light on the side of your house that abuts the alleyway? If it is random bathroom hunters or other unsavory activity, a light that suddenly comes on tends to scare those characters away.

  • I looked at the house on Quincy. If it’s the same one (between 13th and 14th I think) it had a horrible renovation partially completed. It had been largely gutted and redone, the new floorplan was idiotic with no flow and lots of useless space, and the work was pretty crappy on top of that.

    Unless you were OK with that kind of baseline, expect to gut and start all over. It was a non-starter as far as I was concerned.

    For that money I’d buy something bigger/better in Petworth. Unless you really like the proximity to U street (which is nice, I admit) I don’t see the value. It’s still kind of dicey around there, and it’s no closer to a metro than many houses in the residential part of petworth and there are much better deals up there.

  • I actually live on Fairmont, just across that alley from 919 Euclid. I wouldn’t exactly hang out in that alley, but there are worse alleys in the neighborhood. Hell, even Sherman Ave is worse. There are some drug and crime problems in the neighborhood, but in the 2-3 years I’ve lived here I’ve only had a major issue once.

    The thing I worry about the most in the neighborhood is a house on the corner of Euclid and 9th, next to Banneker High, which I increasingly suspect is some kind of crack den.

    I wouldn’t pay $400k for that house, but I’d definitely pay $300k, maybe $350k. And we’re seriously considering it.

  • Probably a good deal, but definitely look at some crime maps for the area before you consider buying.

    Personally I don’t like the raised ceiling in the living room. If that was a proper attic it is a shame to lose it – that space is invaluable for storage. Also it will cost more to heat the house with that raised ceiling.

  • This is a particularly rough block. There was a floodlight/cop outfit posted up here for months after there were 3 shooting in a week last year.

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