Good Deal or Not? Studio Edition


This condo is located at 1718 P Street, NW:

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The flier says:

“Popular Webster House condo. Updates galore: granite counters, roomy kitchen, built-in bookshelves, California closets, fabulous flooring, balcony patio with western exposure, crown moulding, custom window treatments, pet-friendly, on-site rental parking, swimming pool, all utilities in fee, staffed front desk, walk to METRO, shopping, restaurants and more.”

You can find more info and photos here.

Well, it has been a while since we’ve looked at a studio apartment. The photos look nice but it is only 500 square feet. Does $249,750 sound reasonable given the location? What do you think of the layout of the studio itself?

34 Comment

  • The location and the cool features (built-ins and kitchen look nice) might make up for the small sq ft. I say worth it. Oh, and the balcony. That’s nice too

  • I am pretty sure this is also the building that Bob Woodward lived in during the Watergate Days where he would put the flag in the planter for Deep Throat (see all the presidents men). That alone makes me want it!

  • Yup, throw in modest closing costs and you’ve got yourself a good deal. This is the kind where its super easy to do the research to confirm the proper price. Just scroll down on Redfin, and you’ll see a number of good leads. A ground floor apt with almost exactly the same layout sold for $240k. So, a couple floors up and better finishes = this price.

  • It’s about $1800-2000/month depending on your d/p and interest rate. It’s nice for a studio and it has a pool, but I think think it’s too high- much more than rent.

  • It would just kill me knowing that each square foot costs $500.

  • With a 10% down payment, your monthly payments would be about $2,000 all-in. A comparable rental in the building would probably fetch $1,500. So it’s probably a bit overpriced but not outrageous.

  • All in all a good deal: $500/sq.ft. is the right price for the neighborhood and 500 sq.ft. is a decent-sized, livable studio. Live in it a few years, pay down some of the principal, then refinance it for a lower payment and rent it out.

    It looks like the kitchen might be missing a dishwasher, though, which is a minus.

  • It’s hard to think of a more pleasant, fun and livable location in the whole city, and I love the little touches like the balcony, but 500 sq. ft. seems extremely tiny! It would be a great place for someone who doesn’t spend a lot of time at home, I guess. I don’t think the price is too bad, considering the location.

  • @ Rock – that’s funny, you did the same analysis I did but came to a much different conclusion. I personally think overpaying by $500/month just to be able to paint your walls whatever color you like is crazy.

  • @L–you’re forgetting about the biggest tax break in the history of America: the mortgage interest tax deduction.

    My back of the envelope calculations for this place would be $1715/month with 10% down without taking into account the mortgage interest deduction ($1225 mortgage, 356 fee, 134 prop tax/month). I’d guess about $230-240/month in tax savings. So that brings your “real” monthly cost to around $1485. So, with no rent increases (though possible small fee increases) and possible price appreciation over the long term, this sounds like a much better deal to own then rent (unless of course you don’t plan to stay in the city for the next few years, and/or are looking to shack up with someone in the near future).

    • That’s the thing- I can’t imagine that many people would live in a studio long enough for the investment to pay off. There are rowhouses in Petworth and other neighborhoods where the mortgage, taxes, and maintenance is less than rent. That’s a good deal.

      • People who live at 17th and P don’t want to live in Petworth. They want to walk to work and to bars. Petworth is great but you have to drive or take transit anywhere. It would take me 35 minutes to get to work from Petworth on the Metro, and 25 driving, it would take me 5 minutes from this apartment. Some people like having that extra hour a day—we use it (and the hundreds saved not driving or metroing) to go to said bars.

        Yes it’s a lifestyle choice, but it’s a choice people in this city have been making for a long time and will continue to make. It’s a good way to live.

        • Can’t argue with the advantages of Dupont over Petworth but my point was just that in other types of housing, for example many rowhouses in Petworth, the rent vs. buy question leans much more heavily toward “buy” when you compare owning costs vs. renting costs for 2 similar properties. All of the things you mention for why it’s great to live in Dupont apply to someone who rents there too.

    • Studios in my condo building are smaller, don’t have patios, there’s no common pool, and don’t have ovens either. They rent for 1500-1900 depending on the floor and layout. Oh, and I’m not in a DuPont location.

      It’s a great deal and below the cost of renting the same apartment. And you’re forgetting that most people who’d buy this place would qualify for the 5 year tax break the city offers. So really it’s like $1300 for the first 5 years (though I bet most buyers will use FHA loans if possible and only put 10k down).

  • anon: I agree with your calculations, especially if a buyer gets the homebuyer tax credit. If you’re willing to pay $1500 a month to live in a studio without a dishwasher, and you don’t mind living there for several years or serving as a landlord while you rent it out, then it’s a good deal. Personally, I’m not willing to do either of those things, no matter how sweet the location (and it is sweet!)

    • Keep in mind that if you rent it out you lose the tax advantage- so you’ll be renting at negative cash-flow.

      • What kind of argument is that? Why are you talking about renting? Here are some other arguments for you: “Where would you put the crib?” “There’s no formal dining area; how can I throw a dinner party for 50 here?” “There’s no tree suitable for a treehouse here.”

  • I think there is a dishwasher, but I don’t think there is an oven.

  • I think it’s a GD. but don’t forget the condo fees, $356 per month, that will go up over time

  • Looks like dishwasher, but no oven. Fair trade, I’d say. I don’t know how many people will be cooking a turkey in a studio. We used to store pots and pans in the oven in my old place; in maybe 3 years neither me nor my roommates ever once tried to even turn it on.

    I think the people who don’t think this is a decent deal (or within the ballpark of one) just don’t like studios / small apartments. Fair enough point, but obviously misses the point of this entire exercise and ignores the reality that there are plenty of people who don’t mind them given the price & location. It’s like people who can’t fathom living in the city rather than the suburbs.

  • Oh I had a friend who lived in that building, with a similar unit. It felt much more spacious than it was, and there were nice finishes. Obviously a great location in Dupont, and there’s a pool! I loved visiting my friend’s pool. But, if I had money to spend, it wouldn’t be on a place like this. Also, no oven. That sucks.

  • I lived in a similar studio unit in that building about 15 years ago. The layout was similar, but not identical. Obviously, the countertops were not granite at the time. There was an oven, but no w/d, (coin-operated w/d down the hall). Also, the closet space was tiny, even for then. But, the layout was indeed nice, the pool was fine, and there was a doorman at night. Plus, great location.

  • There’s a one bedroom available for rent in the building:

  • Just not a fan of condo fees in genral. Although this one pays for everyting.

  • I lived in this building in the summer of 2004. First, it’s a nice building, with a friendly front desk, and, as has been commented on, an amazing location. Three downsides: when I was there, there was a serious HVAC problem — the AC didn’t remove any of the moisture from the air, leaving the unit very uncomfortable in the DC summer. That’s hopefully fixed by now. Second, there’s only one washer/dryer per floor, for about 20-some units. And last, from my sixth floor balcony facing the back courtyard I had a clear view of the building’s dumpsters, that were absolutely swarming with rats — dozens of them — every night. It didn’t bother me much from six floors up, but from the third floor it might be a bit too close for comfort.

    And it is indeed the Watergate building.

  • L–why do you hate?

  • how do you live in a place with no oven? I don’t get it.
    i feel the same way about people who buy places without bathtubs. how can you do that? i’m a luddite, clearly.

    I think it’s a good deal, for the record. but i’d need an oven. and does it have a tub? 😉

  • Is there some carbon monoxide issue, or something like that, that would prevent you from having an oven in a small place?

  • 500 sq feet is probably jr bedroom size. Nice size. But I wouldn’t buy it at this price. Great location, for sure, but bottom line is you can now buy a studio in some excellent locations at less than $200K with lower monthly maintenance fee. Check the rentals: studios are going for far, far less than $1,500 in many places. If you need to bail and rent, you’ll be covering several hundred dollars in costs each month to stay even.

  • Just an FYI, I tried to buy a unit in that building (the Webster House) a few months ago but couldn’t because you can’t get an FHA loan in that building.

    The reason was that there was, and continues to be, a special assessment being levied and that is a big no-no for the FHA. They simply won’t write loans there.

    So you’re looking at 20% down to buy that place.

    I think this condo is priced about right.

  • Some gay will buy it just so he can live in Dupont.

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