Dear PoP – Do Your Readers Know Anything about this Building?

“Dear PoP,

I am thinking of buying this apartment. It would be the first place I own and is a short sale so I really want to do my research. Do you know anything about the building? Or even better the apartment? Also, any advice about how to handle short sales would be greatly appreciated.”

This condo is located at 1401 Columbia Rd, NW. It’s a 1bed/1bath going for $249,900 ($195 condo fee). But don’t short sales generally sell for much higher? If you could get it for that price, that’d be pretty amazing, I think. You can see more photos of the apartment here. What do you guys think? Anyone know anything about the building?

30 Comment

  • I know I want to try and outbid the poster.

  • i just bought my first house and i know i annoyed the crap out of my very nice agent by dragging him to all the foreclosures and short sales in the district. i am 99% sure it’ll go for more than asking.

    that price is similar to my range and i ended up buying a regular sale around sherman/georgia. i think if you are serious you could buy something around there too.

    • Ditto to both points!

      1) The foreclosure we bought for $30K+ over asking. I would say that our agent was patient too expect for the burning hatred I feel for him for mucking up our closing.

      2) And there are lots in the Sherman/Georgia in that price range. We bid on things closer to 14th, but were consistently outbid – even at $30K+ over asking.

      That said, good luck!

  • I know it’s not a good idea to tell too many people about a place you’re planning on buying. How do you know that someone with better credit or something isn’t about to go make an offer now?

    With that said, I walk by there at least twice a week. 14th & Columbia are both busy streets with a lot of bus traffic–that might be good (if you like riding the bus) or bad (if you hate noise). The place seems well-maintained, at least from the outside. I wouldn’t want to live in Columbia Heights and I wouldn’t want to deal with a short sale (from what I’ve heard, expect it to take 6 months to a year and pay at least 20% more than the listing) but if you can handle those things good luck!

  • I had a friend who lived in this building until about six months ago. She had a very nice place and the building seemed well maintained.

    It is very loud due to being at such a busy intersection and a lot of people tend to congregate in and around the 7-11 on 14th St.

    Go for it, unless you just started a bidding war with other people on this site.

  • I own a place in the building and recommend it highly. Yes, I know I’m biased but the condo board is very active (they’re just about to repaint all the common areas and halls), the fees are on the lower end and the location is just amazing. The apartments are well-built (renovation was w/in last ten years I believe) and the courtyard very well kept. It’s probably the nicest, best deal around.

  • Great location, but the place seems tiny, especially the kitchen, almost no counter space. Seems like they’ve been dropping the price steadily for a while, may be not so great of a deal after all, or maybe the bank is being totally non-responsive. If you think you’d like the space and the price, I’d say make an offer, but expect to be waiting months and months on it.

  • Wow, people are being harsh. I doubt the OP is going to start a bidding war or tons of readers with better credit making an offer. I mean, it’s a public listing linked from Redfin. If people were already interested in buying, I’m sure they would have been looking and would have already seen it.

    Anyway, I have a friend (well, more like a friend of a friend) who lives in this building. She likes it a lot; she had one or two problems with a noisy neighbor when she first moved in, but the neighbor was really responsive when she mentioned something to him about it.

    In my experience, short sales typically sell for more than they’re listed for, but for less than similar homes. The catch is that they’re sold as-is, so proceed with caution.

    Good luck!

  • Friend lived in that building. Apartment was nice enough but the AC unit on the Cardozo Health Clinic was LOUDER THAN HELL. But his rental was adjacent to that noise.

    He had fantastic closet space. The kitchen is about what I’ve had in NY and DC and SF apartments. You will just need to buy a moveable kitchen island.

    • i am two buildings away from the loud as hell ac unit. and it looks like this apartment faces the alley as well. it eventually turns into white noise, but it does sound like a jet plane taking off.

  • Quincy St Neighbor

    I knew 2 friends, a couple, who lived there and therefore know the building quite well from my frequent visits. The building is well maintained. The residents appear youthful. My friends’ unit was a nice end unit 1BR + den apartment. It had a nice layout and was rather spacious.

    Their unit was closest to the street and on the first floor but it never seemed overly loud. Bear in mind this is an urban environment so obviously it will be more noisy than sitting on a grassy knoll full of fireflies and crickets chirping. Looks like this unit is on an upper floor so perhaps it’ll be less noisy?

    My friends’ big complaint was the loitering that occurs by the 7-11. In the summer months residents of the nearby housing projects hang out on the street corners. At one point different crews occupied a different corner of the 14th and Columbia Rd intersection. At times there has been harassment of the new comers… big have vs. have-not tensions. One of my friends is African-American and he received the most bitter harassment from ‘the natives’ – go figure. And there have been shootings between rival loitering crew vs. loitering crew too. But this is all before the Circulator came to Columbia Heights, the Target opening and 14th st road revamp began so maybe these sorts of activities have toned down since then?

    So my assessment: great building, nice looking unit, and a great price! If safety concerns you, you can check the crime statistics for that block via the web site or contact the MPD PSA reports.

  • I used to live in the building and really loved it. It’s a great and very active community. Plus you’re literally steps from everything: metro, buses, Target, gym, restaurants. You can check the historical sales in the building on Redfin or Zillow to see how good of a deal you’re getting, but considering what I’ve seen properties sell at in the building – this is a good deal.

  • I used to live in that building. Though the location can’t be beat with the metro and multiple bus lines the noise soon became unbearable. Living at the intersection of 14th and Columbia, you would expect a fair amount of traffic however the worst was the HVAC unit on the clinic. My apartment faced the alley but it was so loud, forget about leaving your windows open (6 days a week, from 7am-8pm) and I was told that the situation is due to go on for another year.

  • Presumably since the OP is ready to buy, s/he is ok with the smallish size and location and noise (besides the 7-11, the Latin American Youth center is also next door.) This seems like a decent price, but I wouldn’t go bidding war. I owned a condo at 1421 Columbia – just 2 buildings down – for 18 years and know there were/are units for sale there (may have been pulled off the market but owners still would like to sell) as well as 1420 Harvard St.

  • The people in the building are great, it’s pet friendly, the board is proactive and gives a damn, the property management people are on the ball. Very nice.

    You’re very short walking distance to two grocery stores — three if Elwood Thompson ever gets going and three and a half once Target gets its food section installed in October.

    Target, Commonwealth gastropub, Sticky Fingers, three Capital Bikeshare stations, Wonderland, Columbia Heights Coffee, Divines wine store, Tynan Coffee, Starbucks, The Heights, FedEx/UPS, Pete’s A Pizza, Potbelly, three great chicken places, Pho 14, Social, Room 11, Red Rocks pizza, TDF, a mega chain WSC gym, and a Chipotle are all a 3 to 5 minute walk.

    You don’t have to leave the block to get on the metro, the 52/53/54/H8/H1 buses, or the Circulator. In fact, the north bound Circulator literally stops outside. Catch the Green/Red lines just right and you’ll be at Union Station within 20 mins of leaving your house. 30 mins for DCA if you hit the off peak Yellow line and about an hour if you head north to Greenbelt and do the B30 shuffle to BWI. Now that the construction is done you’ll usually catch a cab in a few minutes of stepping outside.

    Columbia Heights Plaza is very, very cool indeed and has transformed the neighborhood. People talk to each other, kids and dogs play in the fountain.

    Columbia Heights has had shootings, muggings, robberies, and the usual stuff that happens in any city. There’s a free clinic around the corner and a couple of housing projects a stone’s throw away. The 7-11 at the base of the building is sometimes loud at night and DC’s finest like to park up outside and shoot the shit in the wee hours. There is constant bus and traffic flow on the busy intersection of 14th St and Columbia Road and trying to find parking is a hassle. If you’re uptight about any of this it’s not the place for you.

    • dude are you the agent or something? i think the guy has been to cohi before…

      • Agent? No. Perhaps I should be.

        I’ve lived in the building for a few years and have seen the neighborhood change a lot.

        I’ve a bunch of overpriced bullshit operations close because they sucked and the people wouldn’t put up with it. Same with U St and Logan Circle. I try to get out and about and support what’s close to me, chain, independent, whatever they are.

        Being on Columbia Road between 13th and 16th is a pretty decent place to live. Great transport options, food, groceries, and all that jazz. Same heading down to U St. and upwards on 14th.

        Thanks for calling it out. I’m just some random person happy and living in the neighborhood.

  • I lived in that building for almost three years. It is a phenomenal location. Here are my pros and cons:

    +: 2 minutes to Metro, Circulator bus stops right in front of building, making home to U St in 15 minutes possible
    -tons of new restaurants and bars in the area, very fun area
    -condo board really responsive and careful about doing any sort of increase in condo fees
    – Close to Giant supermarket, Target, and WSC gym
    – Building is very friendly
    – That unit faces the alley that doesn’t have the loud fan. Definitely the quietest area to live in the building
    – Quick walk to Mt. Pleasant, U Street, and Adams Morgan

    -: 7-11 can get a little rowdy. I would go in the back door to avoid the area when I came from the Metro or from being out in Mt. Pleasant
    – The halls look like those from the movie The Shining
    – There are often issues with the laundry room. I had a washer/dryer in unit so it didn’t impact me

    Good luck!

  • I miss that place. Kitchen is “small” but I did a lot of complicated cooking in there and didn’t have a problem with counter space. The place never felt cramped because the ceilings are so high. And you can’t beat the area. If I hadn’t moved across the country, I would have lived in that condo forever. It is the perfect city home.

  • I bought a foreclosure for only $9000 over list and I got 3% back toward closing costs. I put 20% down and did a conventional loan.

  • I’m not responding to the apartment itself, but I do want to caution you against getting into short sales. We were under contract on a short sale fixer-upper in Eckington knowing that we could be waiting months for an answer from the bank, but something even worse happened: the bank foreclosed without telling us, relisted for $20k over our contract amount, and opened bidding to developers who quickly overbid our new (higher) bid. Also, some friends waited almost 6 months for an answer from their short sale’s bank, and every time they need to talk to the bank now, they get nowhere. I know it’s enticing to get into the DC housing market now, but I warn you that short sales are a nighmare you don’t want to have.

  • My wife lived in this building for two years before we were married. Agree with the pros about location, youth of residents, and condition of the building (it is also a fairly famous architectural landmark), but the cons outweigh the pros in my book: Metrobus and Circulator noise including location announcements starting before 6 AM, trash trucks rumbling down the alley and honking, homeless folks defecating beneath the back staircase, and the fact that she got mugged by a group of teenage girls in summer 2008. That last point is not necessarily a common occurrence, but it certainly soured the place for us.

  • Its nice to have some house that you are very comfortable and also it is affordable. Trash Trucks For Sale

Comments are closed.