Good Deal or Not? Loft Studio Edition


This condo is located at 3155 Mt. Pleasant Street, NW:

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The flier says:

“Lovely renovated studio at The Mount Pleasant with 14′ vaulted ceilings & stunning sunset & National Cathedral views. Charming LR with fixed stairs to sleeping LOFT, granite kitchen w/ breakfast bar, large renovated bath, loads of closets, exposed brick walls, wood floors, W/ D combo in unit, low fee (includes WiFi), pets welcome!”

More info and photos found here.

Well this is a bit of a contrast from yesterday’s house porn but I think this is one cool looking studio. In this case I think the Loft makes a big difference as you can put your bed up there. And as I’ve said before, I dig the exposed brick. What do you guys think? Does $209,000 sound reasonable?

43 Comment

  • I think it’s a cute little space. It’d be great as a rental apartment — couldn’t see staying there more than a year or 2.

  • 331 square feet?? A price of $631/sq.ft.? I assume that includes the loft/sleeping space.

    No way. That’s not meant for human habitation outside of downtown Manhattan.

  • Cute but I doubt it will appraise at that $/sq. ft. Even though $209K sounds cheap at first.

  • Also walking up a ladder to get to your bed would get old. A staircase would be much better, but of course, there’s no space.

  • 334 sf!??? who cares about the 14″ vaulted ceilings if you only have what looks like a 10’x5″ box to live in? I had more room in my Soviet apartment years ago! and $209K to live above Tonic? I had friends that looked at a place above Tonic (much bigger) and were appalled at the smell emanating from the bar into the building above. No thanks.

  • So cute! But I’d love to see a better picture of the loft space, and an idea of how you could arrange the living room. I think it’s unique and full of character!

  • wow. did i wake up in NYC? $631 a square foot to live above a bar? i guess for a single 22 year old who really loves Mt Pleasant, this maybe could work.

  • But ro, how many single 22-year-olds have the money to buy a condo? Like I said, this would make a great rental…

  • “pets welcome!”

    Unless they’re quadrupeds.

  • PoP has got to be one of the most optimistic people in the world. Every. Single. Time. when he posts a GDoN, no matter what the shortcomings, bad location, or unreasonable price, PoP is always commenting on what is attractive about the property and what makes it worth considering.

  • Sheesh, there’s a 2 bedroom condo (1000+ sf) for sale in my building for 3/4 that price. GDoN? I vote “N”

  • that’s what you pay to live upstairs from a tasty pizza place. and oh yeah, arteriosclerosis.

  • Where is this condo for sale that you speak of?

  • Sorry, I am asking about the “2 bedroom condo (1000+ sf)”

  • I fail to see the point of ever buying something this small. Would anyone really think they’re going to make this their home for 5+ years? If not, and you’re willing to live in an apartment this small, just rent a studio and not deal with the hassle of trying to find another hobbit to sell your place to. I’d say this would be a good deal at around $100K.

    Also, I don’t get the people who say this place has “character.” I guess it’s fairly “unique” for your bed to be in a lofted storage space with 5 feet of overhead clearance, but that’s because it sucks and no one wants to live like that.

  • I looked at other places in this building two years ago. They really hacked up/laid out the space in a very weird way, so it doesn’t surprise me that they pulled a 330 sq ft studio w/loft out of it. I like the location and imagine I’d rot my liver living above Tonic, but that’s an awfully small space. Maybe for someone who works a lot in DC and needs a cheap place just to stay for a few nights a week it makes sense, but I can’t see buying this for myself otherwise.

  • The price of real estate in this city is so depressing…

  • OK cough up that 1000 sq ft 2BR place @ 3/4 209K=156,750. NOW!

  • OK Larchie, cough up that 1000 sq ft 2BR place @ 3/4 209K=156,750. NOW!

  • come on people. Clearly the sq ft does NOT include the loft. but the loft DOES add sq footage. and this is why it appears to be priced high. Im sure it will go for somewhat less but for a single bachelor buyer I dont think this is all that bad of a deal. As for who would buy it I would say any single person or young couple with not a lot of income that wants a starter place. I think its pretty obvious we are at the bottom of the market. live here 2 years and sell when the market and MTP street have both improved.

  • Great for a Student + Parents w/ $$

  • this is also horribly staged. one big chair? anyone looking at this wants to know how many people they can fit. I would have put a couch in the bay window and it looks like there is a cove under the loft that isnt even pictured. I guess the TV could go there. I dont think its that bad. The buyer would clearly be a young person who values location and having a funky abode over more sq footage in brookland or what have you.

  • Maybe for someone who works a lot in DC and needs a cheap place just to stay for a few nights a week it makes sense, but I can’t see buying this for myself otherwise.

    It sounds great on one hand. On the other hand, if I had enough spare money burning a hole in my pocket that I wanted an in-town crash-pad, I’d get a nicer place.

    At 150k, you put $30k down, your mortgage+taxes+condo fee are about $950/month. Sure, I guess there’s the price of ownership, but if I could afford to spend an extra $950/month, then I’d get a better place in the city (or closer to it) rather than owning a home + DC crash-pad.

    I just can’t imagine that someone who can only afford 200k on a condo would be so insistent on living in Mt. Pleasant where other, more habitable, units are available in places like Petworth. Heck, I believe there’s still a 500-600 sq.ft. unit for sale in that co-op at 16th and Newton going for 275k or so.

  • I lived in a 500 sq. ft. place for 5 1/2 years. No big deal. I know someone else who lived in a 400 square foot place for 4 years, and that was pretty small, but it was in a killer location in Dupont. I’m not sure the 331 square foot place would be that easy to live in, but it wouldn’t be impossible for someone who enjoys city living (which is different from just living in the city–many on this blog live in the city, but certainly do not enjoy “city living”, b/c they are further away from the action, and prefer a bigger place, but let’s not argue that here).

    Let’s run the numbers and see if it’s a good deal. First off, the person selling this bought it in 2007 for $182k, and there is no reason to think it is worth more now. But, let’s put that aside and say that you buy it for $200k (this makes the math easier, and that’s a pretty reasonable expectation coming from a $209k list price), and assume 20% down, and that there is no price appreciation when you go to sell it. Your monthly cost would be about $871 (mortgage) + 103 (condo dues) + 94 (monthly taxes after homestead deduction) + 18 (monthly insurance) = 1086. You can deduct mortgage interest and real estate taxes, so let’s assume 25% tax bracket (combined federal + states, so that’s conservative, 33% is probably a better estimate, but let’s be conservative), and that gets your monthly cost down to about $896/month. That’s pretty fair. Not a good deal, but not a bad deal either.

    Transaction costs are where you could get killed, though if you think about it, probably not. Transaction costs will add $3000 when you buy it (at least; this assumes the $2200 DC transfer tax plus $800 for misc. fees) to the purchase price, and you’ll have to pay $12200 when you sell (at least, this is just the DC sales tax plus 5% in real estate commissions off a $200k sales price). So you have to factor in those costs over the life of how long you’ll live there. BUT, if you add in (1) the prospect of some modest price increase (which would help offset the transaction costs), (2) the prospect of renting it out after you’re done living there (at which point you can’t deduct the mortgage interest anymore, so you’d have to cover at least $1086/month), (3) the prospect of inflation, which means that your monthly cost–in real inflation-adjusted terms–will be less, but inflation would also help you get a higher rental price, and (4) you will get either a $5k or $8k tax break for your first home in DC, then maybe the transaction cost issue becomes a wash. Also, many of these types of condos are aimed at people who make under $50k and will be getting downpayment help from their family to purchase. In which case, they most likely qualify for the lower income tax abatement program, which waives the DC sales tax (and what’s better, the seller pays their tax to you), and waives property taxes for 5 years. So, transaction costs are even less of a big deal.

    So if you can deal with the small space (many can’t, quite a few wouldn’t mind for a few years in their 20s), I’d say its not a bad deal. I bet comps in the area are below $200k, so if you are able to negotiate down into the $180-190k area, then it’s not a bad deal at all. Of course you have to get over the small space.

  • Devil’s advocate was bored at work…

  • I’ll admit it, I could see myself slipping off the ladder and smacking my head on the floor.

  • i know a couple people who have tiny condos (each well under 500 square feet). one is in west end and the other lives in penn quarter and has a balcony and neither paid anything close to $631 a square foot. $209K may not sound like a lot, but you’re not really getting much for your money here inside, plus Mt Pleasant isn’t everyone’s cup of tea and living 2 floors above a bar/restaurant in a rowhouse structure like this is going to grow old fast. not to mention the potential resale value is going to be limited because of the size/location.

  • I don’t believe the Devil is correct. You should be able to write off mortgage interest on a rental, plus the HOA dues.

  • Devil is good until the write-off on the rental. It’s no longer a personal write-off, but it counts as a business expense, which is offset against the rental income, so it’s the same outcome.

    @JustMe — if you are in DC 5-6 nights a month as an independent contractor or something where you pay your own travel expenses, a net of $900-1000/mo is not bad compared to hotels that average about $200/night. Plenty of people do that, and not just coming from the DC ‘burbs, but from Chicago, NYC, Florida.

  • On the write off- if the interest being paid is equal or greater than the principal, which is certainly going to be the case early on, the interest writeoff plus depreciation writeoff would be pretty signficant. I’m not really sure how it all works out, but wouldn’t that make it worthwhile as an investment?

  • I lived in this building for 3 years before the apartments went condo. They are ok places, but there are noise and traffic issues with two restaurants on the first floor and a bar in the basement. When the place went condo in 2006, the building owners ripped people off (they had set us up for years) and the prices were WAY too high. The “insider” price for my less than 500 sq foot, 3rd floor walk-up, jr. 1 bedroom without a single closet (or storage of any kind) or central heat/air was $265,000. So, no, the places in this building are not a good deal. The location is pretty great and the apartments do have a lot of character.

  • Speaking of deals and yesterday’s house porn, on monday I got to go inside the Toutorsky Mansion at 1720 16th Street NW (Sept 2nd House Porn edition). Real World had just had a party there the night before and the owner was still trying to clean up the mess. He gave us a tour and pictures do not do the place justice. I’d stay overnight just to be able to use the bathrooms. They are gorgeous. The poor man has been working on the house for eight years and still has a lot to do. It’s too bad he’s selling.

  • Yea, you’re sort of right about the deductibility of the interest, but its not exactly the same. The mortgage interest is deductible as a business expense, but that’s really only important if you are making money on the property. If you are losing money when you rent it out (perhaps because you are renting it out at exactly your costs, and then you “lose” money on the property because you deduct the business expense of the interest), you can only deduct the amount of the losses against gains on other passive income (i.e., you can’t deduct it against the income you get from your jobby job, but you could deduct it against the money you’re making from a different rental property). If your job is to own and rent real estate, then different rules apply.

    In other words, if this is your only rental property / source of passive income, you have to cover the full carrying cost ($1086 in my example), and to the extent you make some money off it, you can use the interest deduction as an offset to avoid paying taxes on some or all of the money you make by renting it out. If you lose money on the rental you just lose money on the rental.

  • Anon 4:32 ? How does someone rip you off if you don’t own it in the first place? Strange observation. And good god someone hand me a calculator.

  • And deductions for other non-principal costs, like condo fees, insurance, upkeep, etc., etc., would work the same way.

    I think it’d be an interesting investment property. Not a lot that can go wrong in that small space. But I wonder if you could make more money elsewhere. Plus interest rates may be higher for investment properties.

  • Well, I think in the long run, if your write-offs offset your earnings (the principal that is getting paid down), you essentially are building a small nest egg for many, many years down the road. Perhaps this property is a poor example, but I have a property in Chinatwon that could double or triple over the life of the mortgage. Currently, the mortgage/expenses are getting covered (just barely), but I don’t pay tax on the “earnings”, at least not until the interest/principal switch. So essentially, someone is paying an increasing amount into my bank account/assets which I won’t have to pay taxes on until I sell (capital gains). Eventually the rent will provide income beyond the costs, yet since the write-off for the interest is so high, the extra “profit” is real earnings. At least that’s how I sorta understand it, I could be screwing myself soehow I suppose.

  • Re anon @ 4:32–yea, I agree with Lady. If anything, you didn’t do your homework and for some reason still hold a grudge. I’m pretty sure the law was/is that if a building goes condo, the current renters get the right of first refusal. I.E., they can tell you that they are going to list it for $1m, but if they only get offers for $100k, then you have the right to swoop in and get it for $100k (or a $1 more or something). I have a feeling what happened is that they told you they were going to market it at $265k (which in the go-go days of 2006 might have been the truth), they offered it to you at that price, and then they offered you a couple thousand if you decided not to take it and release your right of first refusal. Maybe you’re just mad that you didn’t play hardball with them? In which case, you ripped off yourself.

  • Also….for those of us making less than 100k, I think you can write off a passive activity loss such as rental income, up to 25k, and the write-off drops down there after your AGI hits 100k. So basically, if you only own one property you rent out, and your write-offs such as interest, HOA, etc, are greater than your earnings, you can carryover the extra writeoff to your personal income taxes.

  • SoLong is right…didn’t know about the $25k special exception.

    Here’s the IRS rules; they are fairly easy to understand:

  • Hello all, this is the sunset they are talking about…I live a few buildings down…



  • Tonic, cant remember what that used to be called before they changed the name. Anyone know if Patrice still works there? I should say hello, great smile and all.

  • Maybe to truly appreciate the condo you have to measure cubic, not square, feet!

  • Three hours and thirty-three minutes after this post when up it went under contract.

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