Good Deal or Not? Owner Request – Rental Edition


From Craig’s list ad:

Beautiful 1-bedroom (517 sq. feet) terrace level apartment, located 3 blocks from the Georgia Ave/Petworth Metro station (Green/Yellow lines). Newly renovated one year ago. Big windows give lots of light on a quiet street, close to all conveniences of the city. Gorgious hickory wood floors throughout, with stainless steel appliances (gas stove, dishwasher, large microwave). Central A/C, jacuzzi tub, garbage disposal. Washer & Dryer in unit. No pets, no smoking. 1 year lease preferred (renewable). Street parking is easy, and apartment is very walkable to the best of Columbia Heights! 3 blocks to Georgia Ave Metro, or 5 blocks to Columbia Heights station. 1 block to the Looking Glass Lounge bar and restaurant (previously Temperance Hall). 4 blocks to new Target, Best Buy, Giant Foods, Washington Sports Club, Starbucks. 5 blocks to Wonderland Ballroom. $1350/month, water included. Utility bill averages $50/month in summer and only $25/month in winter. 1 month security deposit and $20 application fee (for credit check) required.


The owner writes, “I just need to see if people think the rent is reasonable… it’s so hard to tell, especially considering that I’ve seen one bedrooms in the area go anywhere from $800-1800!”

So do you think $1350 sounds reasonable for a one bedroom rental in this location?

An interesting comparison is a group house listing from craig’s list also sent by a reader.

The are asking $570:

Our Columbia Heights group house is looking for a new housemate for a good-sized room with a private deck. Move in would be on March 1st. The house is 3 floors with 2.5 baths, separate living room, dining room, large kitchen, and large back deck that is perfect for grilling. Central air and heat, washer/dryer, dish washer/garbage disposal, and cable/wireless internet. Rent is $570 (plus a $525 security deposit). Utilities (electric, water, cable and internet) are not included and usually range from $60-$100 per month. We also have a housekeeper come clean once a month, which costs about $15 per person per month.

The house is a short walk to the Columbia Heights (10 minutes) and Georgia Ave (5 minutes) Metro stations. It is also very close to the Columbia Heights Giant, Target, Red Rocks, the Wonderland, the Looking Glass Lounge, and The Red Derby. Tennis courts, basketball courts, and softball fields are right around the corner, and Rock Creek Park and Adams Morgan are within walking distance.

The five other roommates (3 males, 2 females) are all young professionals who enjoy relaxing with each other in the house but also have their own separate lives. Our ideal roommate would be clean, respectful, and easy going.

34 Comment

  • That 1 Bedroom looks amazing. I think that’s a good price and wish I was in the market to rent! Also it’s not an easy comparison, because 1 bedrooms are a totally different market than 1 bedroom in a big house, as that’s a totally different living situation. That said, both seem like good deals.

  • personally I think you over improved your basement unit for the would be rental market in that location. It looks great and all. but as a renter myself. Ill forgo your granit offerings in favor of getting away from georgia ave. or out of an inlaw suite.

  • did i missread? this is an apartment? not an in law unit?

  • That’s a good price. It would be a little steep if it were a typical apt that size, but its got marble counters, stainless appliances, and a jacuzzi tub. You’ll definitely find takers for that.

  • I like it, but I wouldn’t pay that much for a “terrace” level place in that neighborhood. Plus, it looks a little small.

    But then again, I also value space over living alone. I would much rather spend $2400 for a 1500 sq. ft. 2bdrm a few blocks closer to the CH Metro and split it with a roomie. There are plenty of people who go the other way.

  • Those locators make no sense to me. How can something be three blocks to GA/Petworth metro, and five blocks to CH Metro? How is this guy counting the blocks? Levitating over three or four streets somewhere in the middle?

  • Having trouble posting my comment… hopefully it will work this time….

    My first thought was that it was priced too high given it’s terrace level but it looks a lot nicer than the average basement apt. A couple interesting comparisons are this which at $950 is much cheaper but might not be as nice:

    and this $1300 studio which is obviously a lot smaller but in a better location

    So overall I’d say that it’s fairly reasonable but if someone had a lot of time to look they could probably find a better deal.

  • Personally I think its a little high, especially given that utilities are not included. If I were in the market to rent a small 1BR English Basement on Georgia Ave I wouldn’t want to pay extra for granite counters and S.S. appliances. Maybe $1175 I’d pay.

    A key factor would be the bathroom and the bedroom, which aren’t shown. The bedroom needs to be bigger than a love nest and the bathroom needs to be bigger than an airplane bathroom.

  • Prince Of Petworth

    Ed. Note: If you put more than one link in a comment it automatically goes into a holding folder (for spam control). I am usually able to identify proper posts pretty quickly.

  • The apartment might be a little overdeveloped now, but if Petworth is more renovated in five years over all, the owner will be happy he or she spent a little more now vs. having to renovate again to meet the market down the road. The difference between renovating cheaply and renovating nicely doesn’t even necessarrily have to be that big.

  • I’m not sure how much rents have increased or if it offers much as a comparison, but I was paying $1,050/month +electric for a 1,000 sq. ft. English basement in Mt. Pleasant about four years ago.

  • I think the one bedroom looks like a great deal, but I’m one of those people who loves living alone. Plus it’s got a dishwasher, W/D, and great appliances (and jacuzzi!).

  • Anon- 4 years ago was a long time, even for Mt Pleasant.

  • This $1300 1br in MtP looks like a much better deal.

  • Looks much nicer than the English basement I lived in a few years ago.

    English basement apartments are great starter apartments, but I don’t know anyone who has ever stayed in one for very long. While they aren’t necessarily problems for all basement apartments, the dampness, occasional flooding and lack of light drove me out of there after two years.

  • I live in a basement studio that was renovated less than a year ago in Petworth a block or so north of Grant Circle. I pay $975 with all utilities including shared use of a high efficiency washer/dryer (which i use max of once a week, if that much), deluxe cable package, wireless and I also have a parking space behind the row house and my own entrance. I don’t have a bathtub or granite counters but its still pretty large and the kitchen/dining area is separate from the rest of my studio. After having lived in rat & roach infested row homes for half of what I’m paying now, I can only say that $975 is a STEAL. This is my first experience in 3 years of DC without roaches or mice and the peace of mind I feel is worth every penny. I cook everyday and a lot on the weekends and my landlords are a young hip couple and we occasionally go out together or have post-work drinks on the front porch. I never understood what Pop meant about “Welcome to the Good Life” until I moved to Petworth into the place I live now. $1300 is a bit much right now, but it isn’t unreasonable considering those windows are huge and proximity to the metro and when Park Place opens, the feel of Petworth’s Metro will change. I have parking at work and a bike, so I don’t use public transportation very often and I usually bike to U Street, Wonderland, Red Rocks or the Derby.

  • to the people saying it’s a little much right now, it’s really common for rents to rise when home ownership is less attainable (this time via a credit crunch)

  • enus, the flip side of that is that there are a lot of houses and condos on the market that aren’t selling, and many owners end up renting them out, so I think it washes out.

  • The location seems great b/c its close to public transpo and shopping (don’t understand the 3 blocks to GA Ave-5 blocks to Columbia Heights geography but whatever). Hardwood floors, washer/dryer, air conditioning, looks like lots of windows. Utilities aren’t that much. $1300 seems like a good deal to me.

  • The reason to be in Petworth is because you get more space for you money. I can’t imagine cramming into 500 sq ft. i would consider doing it if i was downtown for the conveniences, but that just seems crazy for up here. Gonna go with not a good deal, because you can find bigger Petworth basements for cheaper.

  • I just looked for a one-bedroom rental and I can say, depending on the exact location, this is a good to great deal. I was looking more in CH and Mt. Pleasant, but rents shouldn’t be that much lower in Petworth at this point. Having moved 3 times in the past year or two, I can vouch that rents have increased pretty heftily in that time.

    I think you’ll have no trouble at that price and could probably even raise it a bit.

  • It seems fair to me. However, you will have people living above you. And if this is a recent condo conversion then you’ll probably hear all of your neighbors because the walls and floors are paper thin. But I think the price is right.

  • Bad Deal.

    I pay 100 bucks more (1450) with all bills paid to live in Logan Circle, 10th floor view, 4 blocks from Dupont, 5 from McPherson, and 6 from the Green line.

  • I think it’s too high. My 7th-floor, 650-square-foot one-bedroom (10 minutes to CH Metro, 5 to Woodley Park Metro), looking out over Rock Creek Park, costs $1,300. The apartment looks beautiful, but most people won’t pay the high end of the one-bedroom scale for a basement unit.

  • It’s very pretty. It seems like it has good light for being a basement unit, and I like the kitchen. I do feel like it’s a little high because that’s about what my mortgage+property tax escrow is (minus condo fees) and my 1 bedroom place is bigger than this. I have off street parking, washer dryer, central air, and I live a block away from the Ga Ave Metro.

    But, I’ve been out of the rental market for a while, so my judgment may be off.

  • Not a chance for basement–call it English or In-law–it is still a basement. It is very nice looking but no pets and no utilities in a basement and the neighborhood seems to be more in the $1000 range.

    Remember in this market it is harder and harder for people to afford what they could in the past. Not only does the value of the market price go down on a home but also so does the ability for renters to afford to cover that mortgage.

    Is that a returnable fee for the credit check? I am tired of these landlords assuming that they can just collect money from renters for a credit check and no one knows if they actually check. My suggestion is allow for prospective renters to supply you with a credit background document from a legit organization or do a credit check together so the renter has the option to create an account with a credit check company so they can use it in the future.

  • 2 comments – yes, I am sure some people rent apartments that seem bigger/better than this one, but you can’t compare it to what you pay for an ongoing rental, you have to compare it to other rentals being advertised. Most landlords won’t raise your rent much year to year if they want you to stay, but if you move out, it will usually jump a lot. I think the rent amount for the apartment is right for the market, not a great deal, but won’t scare too many people away.

    Second, regarding geography, you can be 3 blocks from the Petworth metro and 5 blocks from the CH metro because they are only 8 blocks apart from each other. That’s why I think the couple blocks south of the Petworth metro are a great deal, you are really close to CH and pay Petworth prices.

  • I’m currently in a basement apt. 4 blocks north of Petworth Metro and pay 875/mo. The unit is much nicer than what I’m in, but I don’t think that I’d pay 400/mo more for hardwood floors & SS appliances- as a renter of a *basement* apt. (as opposed to other types), I want a nice, convenient & cheap place. If I cared about features, I’d be in a big apt. building that has a front desk to take my packages + the nice stuff. Admittedly, this unit has more windows than a normal basement (highlight that!) Question, though- are you offering it furnished (given the state of the photos, unless this is a failed sale)? I guess you could get more for that, though I’ve never been in the position to desire a furnished place (I already have much of the furniture I need).

    The biggest problem you’re going to have is that a flood of former condo bldgs went apt (Allegro & Park Place in you general ‘hood) and as they come online, they’re going to suck up a couple of month’s worth of inventory (though given Park Place’s unit sizes, they may try to target higher than $1300- I recall they were wanting $350000 for a 1-bed as a minimum, which would be around 17-1800 in rent, if they could get it.

  • PetworthRes, I don’t know how long WestIndianArchie and MGDC have lived in their places but I wouldn’t assume that you couldn’t get a similar deal as a new tenant. I’m the same Anon who posted a couple places above and I also just found this place: $1450 studio between Logan and Dupont, near Whole Foods.

  • GREAT deal based on the photos. That $1450 in Logan Anonymous found is a studio. I’d rather pay less to get a one bedroom. To the original owner, your place photographs well, but how is the layout and the lighting? I’m not too concerned about the location: it’s close to metro, close to bars and restaurants, nice neighborhood, and you’re probably want to get a renter who knows the neighborhood anyway. Rents are both going up and down in DC. The economy is taking everyone for a wild ride. But your place seems like a fair bargain for a rental.

  • I live 4-5 blocks north of Columbia Heights Metro off 14th and my neighbor rents his basement for $1000 (which includes cable/internet and utilities)… the only catch is it’s not a legal rental unit and only has rear egress.

  • I’m two blocks away [closer to CH] and I pay $1100 including utilities for a basement apartment that is 950 sq. ft. Mine isn’t as nice but I’m not going to bother paying a premium for granite counter tops if I don’t plan on living in the basement forever. My apartment also allows up to two pets.

    So Bad deal. Maybe include utilities in that price or bring the price down a 100 or 200.

  • I have to say ditto to Not Telling…it’s a lovely apartment, but extremely small. I paid $1250 last year for a 800 square foot one bedroom basement apartment in Mt. Pleasant that also had a full size washer/dryer, allowed pets, had a wall of windows in the living room and included all utilities. I’d pass on this place as not a good deal.

  • I think this is pretty overpriced. 517 sq ft. is small, no matter how nice the fixtures in it are — and it’s not really in the best location for that kind of money and no parking. If the landlord can get this, he’s getting a hell of a return on some marble and granite and stainless steel appliances. The extra money for the higher end renovation will be paid off in under a year.

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