Good Deal or Not? Reader Request


This home is located at 203 Morgan Street, NW:

View Larger Map

The flier says:


More info and photos found here.

The reader writes:

“I was thinking of making an offer on a house which I actually found through a comment on one of your other GDoNs. It is an interesting place and the rental basement which goes for about 950/month makes it affordable for me.

I went to two open houses and really love it but I’m nervous about it since it’s my first house. I was concerned about the lack of storage and the owner said he would construct a huge new closet in an existing nook.. Anyway, I’m going back this weekend and figured if the PoP crowd said it was a good deal I may just bite the bullet.”

I like that it’s on a nice “mini” street. Help the reader out – $474,900 sound reasonable for this house?

28 Comment

  • Go for it. You’re going to make a nice profit selling that place someday, I’m really jealous.

  • I went to an open house across the street with a friend and this wasn’t on the market yet but the owner invited us in. It wasn’t quite finished but I thought it was really, really cool. The house across the street was 399 unrenovated and no rental so this seemed like a better deal IF you dont want a yard. Also, the refrigerator is maybe the coolest one I’ve ever seen, skinny and tall. If I had the money I would snap it up.

  • Seems like a kind of random location and maybe too close to Sursum Corda, etc.

  • Im not so sure. I mean sure its redone really nicely. But no parking? doesnt even appear to have a backyard big enough for a grill. The side street location is nice but for this price I think you could do better. Once the Agent-Named neighborhoods of Truxton Circle and Noma become more established you will make a nice return im sure.

  • It’s a great location and I don’t think you can go wrong there. The pictures are beautiful – it looks like a great buy.

  • for me buying a house was all about the outdoor space. I could deal with a house with no backyard if it had a nice front porch for grilling and relaxing. I looked at some like that in MTP. But this one has no front or backyard. and Parking may not be a nightmare there yet but it will be soon enough.

  • I like this neighborhood. It’s a little hedged in by NY Ave, but the scale is nice and the surrounding blocks are leafy, walkable and nice. The few times I’ve been around here (to visit Brass Knob Warehouse) I was pleasantly surprised.

  • Good deal. If you get it, stop up and say hi to everyone around Bates 🙂

  • Comparing a mortgage (if you finance it all) versus what you could rent it for, it sounds like a good deal. And considering what you will pay after you deduct the rental income it sounds like a good deal. I think that is near the Yale Laundy condos, not sure what those cost but that would provide a benchmark for a 2BR then add 125 or 130 for the rental income. You could do worse. That street is lovely. The photos are not that great.

  • Great house in a fantastic location. Random plug for Primal Fitness, which is around the corner in the Old Firehouse at M Street and New York Ave.

    p.s. I would love to rent the basement apartment if you are successful with your purchase… seriously. If there is a way to discuss this, let me know!

  • “sunny space” but the four crappy indoor pics are too dark to see anything. Seller, do yourself a favor and get a listing agent that can take pictures and doesn’t write in all caps. taking into account the rental income that basically pays $150k of your mortgage, this seems to be a very affordable renovated house.

  • Personally, I would wish for more bedrooms in the main living space…but that’s just me. I worry that I would grow out of 2 bedrooms in the amount of time I would want to keep the property to get a return on the investment.

  • I am also looking to buy. Do you guys think it is possible to find a good 2 bdrm plus rental unit around columbia heights for $550k?

  • 211 Morgan (4-Bdrm!) sold for $309K in Dec ’08. Do more research on the street and what you neighbor’s value is. That’ll also ease nerves.

    And the ONLY WAY for an owner to communicate ANYTHING, like adding storage space, is to do so IN WRITING. If it ain’t on paper, it doesn’t exist. Let that be a lesson you never learn first hand. Good luck!

    And if this place has a renter you plan to keep, it’s now Investment Property, get ready for a higher interest rate from your lender and additional paperwork. Is that space registered with the city?

    Yeah, keep researchin’.

  • Because they list the basement as an in-law suite, I’m assuming it’s not legal to rent (like most DC basements). Be careful with that. We almost bought a house right around the corner in the 1200 block of Kirby. The neighbors we talked to seemed really nice. However, there were way more older kids on the playground that younger kids. Since you’re right next to Dunbar high school, you’ll probably have a lot of teenagers around.

    But like other folks said, the proximity to CityVista, Busboys and Poets, Safeway, etc. is pretty nice. Not sure if it’s $474K nice, though –especially if the basement isn’t legal.

  • Menace: if it’s your primary residence, if’s not considered investment, also no additional paperwork, at least in my case. Just need to make sure that rental is actually legal though…

  • If you don’t qualify for the mortgage without the rental you have a lot of homework to do. When I bought my house 6 years ago it was a real pain to prove to the mortgage company what was market rate rent for a basement apartment and then they would only accept 80% of that towards my qualification. That was before the mortgage mess, check with your lenders for their terms. Also, being a landlord in DC is no fun, make sure you know what you are getting into before committing to being one.

    That said, I bought a house that I could afford without the rental income and have rented out my basement to several good “roommates” over the years which saves me a lot.

  • alsolooking: coldwell banker has/had a listing on Quincy St NW. two or 3 brs, basement apt. THINK the price was around $500,000. Agt. Ethan Carson 202 741-1678. a nice walk to col hts metro area or a 5 min walk to GA petworth metro. nice block.

  • The house looks a lot better in the photo.

    In reality, it’s small, no yard, and no off street parking. And right next to NY Ave projects and around the corner from the hangouts of people from the projects.

    If you look at the sales data, you could’ve bought un unrenovated house with a better layout and a small yard 1 block away (1225 1st street, I think) for $180K. And it wasn’t a shell – run down, needed all appliances at least, but not a shell by any means. It languished on the market for a very long time, which should give you an idea of pricing expectations in that little area.

  • Really asmazing renovation. The floors are spectacular and there is a wonderful attention to detail. This would be a great first house. You will have a good source of income in the rental unit and its not over the top. Not to mention, all the renovations have already been done.

  • Yes…

    You may not have want to let the cat out the bag though. Some anonymous lurker may snatch it from under you…or bid up the price.

  • Are you kidding me? Really?
    A reno that has squeezed all of the charm out of what was once there. Tiny lot. And I’m sorry, but this is not a desirable location. In this market, I’m not even sure this would appraise.

    Not a good deal here. Sorry.

  • Most of the houses featured here aren’t in the best locations I actually think this location is good or at least promising but it has its issues for sure), the point is whether its a good deal taking everything into account. There is a similarly sized house on Ridge, not really renovated, with a sep unit basement, for 499. This has better finishes but no yard. The buyer should look at them both and see which looks better. My guess is this house will sell to someone who likes the modern finish and doesn’t need parking. Seems priced right but the universe of sellers is smaller due to the smaller size and no parking. My guess is it will sell for 459 in the next month.

  • I went by the house this morning and was quite impressed with the nice neighborhood feel and proximity to everything. I also spoke with a neighbor and learned (and observed even in the short time I was there) that there are established families from six continents living on the street! It’s an easy walk up 1st St to the Big Bear Cafe, short and beautiful walk down M St to the convention center metro, and another half mile the other direction to all the new NoMa developments (Harris Teeter, etc). When you look at a map, you can see that it’s actually one of the closest old residential neighborhoods to downtown. All that goes to say that you might want to put in an offer quickly before I beat you to it!

  • apparently the listing agent has appeared in the comments!

  • im the owner, selling it myself though its on mls through a flat-fee agreement with a listing company. someone at the open house yesterday told me it was on POP. No, “Still looking” is not me or the listing agent and i hope he/she makes an offer. my only comments to the comments is that Morgan is an awesome street, not sketchy at all in my opinion, and I did not renovate all the character out of the building, unless you consider vinyl floors and a filthy 1970s kitchen to have character. The number one comment I get is that is doesn’t have a yard and that it’s quite small, but most people agree its a pretty cool space. not for everyone but hopefully someone will like it. thanks for posting it as the good deal or not and for the comments. peace gregg

  • Thanks to the seller for clarifying. Since you’ve joined the thread, may we ask if there is a separate C of O for the basement?

  • I visited the house. I think the price is too high for such a small space in this location near Dunbar H.S. The price would be a reasonable ask on the Hill (on a central block or near the Car Barn).

    There’s almost nil storage space. Not enough room in the basement rental for a full size couch or queen bed. The seller, Gregg, said he stored him things under his bed for the most part. So you’d better be prepared to store your luggage and sports equipment under your bed.

    There is a backyard/alley but I think about 3 feet wide and 8 feet long. Could you set a grill out there? Yes. Could 6 of your friends join you? Unfortunately, no.

Comments are closed.