What’s a Fair Price for My Rental Property? – 3600 Block of 11th St. NW

Ed. Note: I’ve been getting a few inquiries like this so I thought it would be fun to start it as a regular feature. If you’re looking to rent a place out and are curious what is a realistic price send an email with ‘what’s a fair price’ in the title to princeofpetworth(at)gmail(dot)com. We can also do this for people selling their homes if interested.

We just purchased a fully renovated house on the 3600 block of 11th St. NW with a wicked nice basement apartment rental unit. We would love some input on how much you (and the readers) think it is worth! We hope to advertise it sometime this month. Here are the details:

* 1000 sqft 1 bdrm apartment
* All utilities included (minus cable/internet)
* Washer/dryer in the unit
* All new kitchen appliances
* Easy on street parking (there are always spots!)
* Just a hop & skip to all the new bars on 11th Street! Meridian Pint, Red Rocks, and what hopefully will be a rockin’ bar being build by the owners of Local 16th!
* .6 miles to Columbia Heights metro and all it’s glory! Think Target, Marshalls, IHOP, etc…
* .3 miles to Petworth. Certainly not too long until it is also glorious! Especially if your shuttlebutt is right on and that coffee shop moves in like you noted in the blog. Not to mention the new sports bar going in next to the Looking Glass.
* Solid size bathroom with great sink and fancy facet!
* Easy walk to 16th street for all the express buses
* Quiet one way street
* Great landlord!

Thanks for the input!

(Note: The photos don’t show a cooking range or refrigerator since we just ordered them from Home Depot – they will arrive next weekend)

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I think I gotta stick with the $1300-$1500 range – what do you guys think?

A few more photos after the jump.

77 Comment

  • This is a tough one. On the one hand, the neighborhood is not great (as a single woman, I wouldn’t live there). Also, the kitchen is really small. On the other hand, the apartment does look really nice. A major question: what is the lighting like in the bedroom? That could be a maker or breaker.

    $1500 is definitely a dream. You might be able to get $1200 or $1300 because it’s a new apartment, but it really depends.

    (One nitpick: don’t try to sell it based on proximity to 16th street. By the time you walk all the way over to 16th, you might as well just take the subway.)

    • Are you kidding about not living there? There is so much less crime in the few block area around this address than closer to the “heart” of Columbia Heights. I’ve been walking around that neighborhood by myself (a mid-30s, 5′ 3″ 125lb woman) for almost 5 years and have never once been concerned about my safety. Not once. My husband travels for work a lot, like several weeks in a row, and I have never once worried about being in the house by myself.

      And any of you below who’ve said that this is too far from the metro, you’re nuts. It’s about 7 minutes walking to the Petworth metro.

      • SouthwestDC

        Well, maybe she wouldn’t want to live in the heart of Columbia Heights, either. I know I wouldn’t!

        • First of all, I live in Petworth, so it’s not that I’m a shrinking flower. The neighborhood as a whole is fine as long as you stay on highly-travelled roads; it’s when you get on to the side streets that safety becomes an issue, because then you’re alone and a target.

          • I agree in some ways — if it had a direct cut to a more well-lit/traveled road, like New Hampshire, it’d be better. But it is only 2 blocks from Park, so I’d feel pretty safe as someone who walks around there regularly.

            Also I paid $1200 for a 1br basement a few years ago, a couple of blocks south of here. (That said, I would never ever ever live in a basement apartment again.)

    • the fact that you called it the subway means you don’t know much about this area… or DC in general.

      • Subway, metro, whatever. Can we stop with this DC/NYC thing? Plenty of people from NYC move to DC. Plenty of people from DC move to NYC. They’re both great cities. They call their trains different things. I don’t like to walk on dark side streets late at night in either place.

      • Metro is spanish for subway, so same difference. I’m born and raised in DC and call it the subway, sounds better.

        • That’s exacty what happens to me. I try to call it metro because it’s the use (and the “official” name) but sometimes the word subway will come out of my mouth.

  • It’s an great neighborhood (I’m a single woman and would live there). The place looks new and is big for a 1BR. $12-1300 seems fair. $15 seems a stretch.

  • whats with the big gap next to the dish washer?

    • The gap next to the dishwasher – that looks like a mini fridge to me. That is probably where the range is going – no dishwasher.

      • Ok, even better… Where is the dishwasher going to go?

        • Reading comprehension fail. The OP says all that’s arriving this weekend.

          • Correction fail. Only range and fridge are mentioned as arriving later. Dishwasher isn’t mentioned in the text at all…

          • Correction correction fail. The dishwasher is in the picture. Why can’t people read and/or look anymore? Maybe the SAT should add a “looking” section. Also, logic fail, because why would the OP be adding a full sized fridge in addition to her so called “mini fridge”.

          • Odd dishwasher, as it has no visible controls, and it looks strangely like this:

            The mini-fridge is likely there while they do renovations, and will be removed when the full-size arrives.

            Perhaps a better solution, rather than us degenerating into a flamewar, would be to ask OP if a dishwasher is going to be included?

          • I’m looking on my phone — tiny pictures. In any case, I’m just going to play the common sense card here, and answer on behalf of the OP who just bought a $600,000+ house.

            Yes, there will be a dishwasher.

            That spot is for a dishwasher and no other appliance. Clearly, the OP has enough money to splurge on a $300 stainless steel dishwasher. Does anyone really think there won’t be one? Let’s use a little common sense here, people.

  • 1100 — def not over 1250 — 1500 is not doable.

  • Since it is a little ways from metro, and it is an english basement, I’d say $1200-1250. Also make sure to get all your permits so you don’t get screwed by a bad renter.

  • This apt doesn’t seem to have a kitchen so much as a wall with some appliances placed up against it- could be a deal-breaker for many. One island countertop could help some.

    Neighborhood is great. I’d say $1200.

  • I think you could get $1300. I would totally pay that for the place. Where are you gonna list it?

    • I’m looking for an apartment now and if i saw this apartment listed for $1300 I would definitely contact the OP about a viewing. The kitchen area seems to be bigger then most for an English basement and its really close to a metro and nightlife.

  • The apartment looks really nice, but $1500 for a basement in Petworth is insane.


  • Also, what is your source that the apt is 1,000 sq ft? From the pictures it honestly looks more like 500-600 unless there’s a lot we’re not seeing.

  • 1300 seems quite fair, possibly 1400 depending on timing. IT should move quickly, as it’s a gorgeous unit.

    Blocks are a much more useful way of conveying distance, as those distances are easily walkable!

    Also, scuttlebutt.

  • I’d say $1200 with utilities included is fair.

    Also what is shuttlebutt and can I see a photo of the fancy facet?

  • You are not going to rent it for any price if you dont put a real refrigerator in there. For those who asked about the “dishwasher” it looks to me like its actually the refrigerator.

    I think you could get $1300 but anyone looking in that range is going to want a refrigerator with atleast 15 Cu ft and they are probably going to want a dishwasher as well. It also looks to me like there isnt an outlet to the left of the kitchen counter so you are going to have to invest in that as well.

    Sounds like you guys have some work to do.

  • I know many women who live in this neighborhood — some of whom could afford Logan, Dupont if they wanted.

    Anything in $1200 range is what most potential tenants think is fair. That means you’ll have 50 applicants in a week. You don’t need or want 50 applications.

    It’s a nice looking abode, so I’d start high. With a nicer place, you’re not providing value, you’re providing amenities. I think the magic number is $1395 to rent in 2 – 3 weeks, maybe $1450 if you’re feeling lucky.

    • +1

      As someone who owns a unit on 13th/Monroe and has had to find renters 2-3 times, it is definitely better to start a little higher on the price and drop it just a little bit with each re-posting if you’re not getting the price you’re asking. Also, there is pretty well-documented spike in the rental market over the past couple years i.e. prices up/supply down

      Therefore, I disagree that $1200-$1300 is the right price range.

      I get ~1900/month for the 700 sq ft 1 bdrm I own. Nothing included. Granted it’s not a basement unit and has pretty decent light, but the finish is about the same and there are no significant amenities in the building (unless you count having an elevator).

      Utilities alone are worth ~$100 month, so with that in mind I think $1500 is a perfectly reasonable starting point for this basement unit.

      • Depends on the utilities. Electricity and water on a basement rental run $100-150 (30% of the total bill, which is the formula used for tax purposes); plus $30-50 for cable tv plus internet (much easier to wire the entire house than to split). So the real value of utilities is more like $130-200 if all are included (and they should be unless the house is separately metered). So I’d say $1375 with electricity/water only and $1425+ including cable tv/internet. (Base of $1250/month + utilities for comparison). Good luck.

  • I think you should stop giving free advertising to landlords in the blog, obviously they have gotten wise to the “Oh POP please ask how much I should ask for rent on my unit” to get free advertising. Make them show a receipt to a homeless center donation before you post another one.

  • I’m not familiar enough with this area to say much. However, if safety is a concern for people in other neighborhoods where space is similarly priced, it should be here too. Some people like to pretend that the place they choose to live is really Spring Valley, but with less expensive houses and others act like a neighborhood similar to theirs is actually downtown Camden, when in reality its no less safe then their own…

    I think you should figure out the market price for the square footage (I agree that it seems smaller than 1000) basement living area in this neighborhood and similar ones (check out hill east, bloomingdale, shaw, petworth). I would say the finishes are average to low-end, lack of sufficient cabinet space, lack of dishwasher, small kitchen, mean I’d deduct maybe 10%-20% for the market rate. Add some of that back in because of utilities. Lack of parking is something else to consider. Street parking isnt exactly a value add since, no matter how safe yuor neighborhood is, in DC if your car is parked for more than 3 days East of the Park, its a sitting duck. If its parked for 3 hours after dark with any sort of electronics wire visible, suction cup trace on the wind shield, or bag, you’re rolling the dice.

  • There is no way that is 1000 sf. At most 800sf (and probably more like 700).

  • PoP…great new feature. Love the conversation and perspectives on potential rental units and prices!

  • What does the living room look like? I seems much smaller than 1000sq. I live just a block down and my basement apartment isn’t that large. Though $1250 with utilities is a doable price to move quickly. I should also mention. I got my car stolen from that block last year. So, um, yeah. The neighborhood can be sketchy, but hey, it’s DC, what do you expect? Also, does the bathroom have a tub?

  • You could probably pull $1300

  • Unless that is a trash compactor pictured, which I highly doubt, I can bet you its a mini fridge. Also, the countertops/cabinets are flush against the wall which appears to separate the kitchen space from the entrance. I don’t see how a full size refrigerator (and stove) will fit.

  • $1900 for a 1-br in Columbia Heights and no utilities?! Those are Dupont and Adams Morgan prices (hell, I’ve seen apartments in those areas go for less).

    No way should anyone pay $1500 a month for a 1-br basement apartment in Columbia Heights. That’s just nuts. I routinely find nice places for less than that in Mt. Pleasant. With some persistence, you can find something decent for $1200 that’s also above ground.

    No wonder people here routinely feel gouged by apartment prices.


    • should I suggest reading the article?

      The places you posted are not very nice for the price. Small, far from the metro, in a ghetto.

      • Are you kidding me? Since when do Adams Morgan and Cleveland Park constitute ghettos? Summit is extremely close to 18th and Columbia. These listings took me all of 2 minutes to find. My point is, with some searching, you can find above ground places in better neighborhoods for sometimes less than $1500. Spend more time on the effort, and you’ll be able to do even better than what I found with minimal exertion.

        • A lot of adams morgan sucks. I would live just about anywhere else in this city except for Adams Morgan.

        • LeDroit Park? 550 sq feet? Sure, there’s plenty out there, but it depends what you are looking for and what you’re willing to live with/without.

          • ddd, duh, that’s true anywhere. All I’m saying is that you can indeed find a decent 1-br that is not a basement in this city for $1400-$1500. Won’t happen magically, but it can be done. Speaking as veteran of the basement apartment, all the free utilities and fresh renovations couldn’t compensate for the low ceilings and lack of natural light. But that’s just me.

            There are some really beautiful parts of LeDroit Park, as is also true of Adams Morgan (great when you stick to quiet side streets).

    • $1900 is actually less than what most of the high end buildings on 14th St are charging – and that doesn’t include utilities OR amenity fees.

      …but I will say that from the POV of many renters it’s probably worth looking around for something less than 1500/month.

      However, lower priced basement units are much more likely to have leaks, old finishes, musty odors and all the other hazards of semi-subterranean living. A freshly re-done place like this (if well done) isn’t as likely to have those problems and gets a price bump for that peace of mind.

      • http://www.carmelapartments.com/the-argonne-apartments/floorplans

        You can find decent apartments in those neighborhoods for under $1900. Maybe they won’t have granite countertops or pools in the building, but I think a lot of folks can live without those things.

        Until May of last year, I lived in a well-renovated basement apartment in Glover Park for $1000 including utilities. Found it on CL quickly.

        I repeat: it can be done.

  • are you kidding with the 1500? This place doesn’t even have a full size kitchen appliance! seriously?

    The location is so-so, though improving. I would live there as a single woman, but would be cautious. I would say 1100 would be fair. 1200 would be probably fine.

    • Seriously eb, did you read the OP re appliances?

      Go back and read, and then consider if your comment about full sized appliances is even relevant.

  • $1200 seems fair. Its a nice place, finished and all, but still a basement. A studio can be had in Dupont for $1200….

  • Tiny studios in high end neighborhoods need not apply.

    Let’s all agree that $1250 is definitely the “normal, mid-low end English basement price in generally decent neighborhoods”.

    But, I’ll say it again – this owner should start bidding at 1500, and drop price slowly until they get a tenant or down to 1250…and I’ll bet they find a tenant before the price drops below $1300. Why blow the chance to get a little more money to pay off renovation costs/build up cash reserves for future repairs?

    Is there any reason (beyond the owner’s tolerance for the tenant search process) that this is a bad idea?

    • This is actually something I wonder about. A bunch of my friends have really great deals on apartments because they’re responsible and the landlord would rather have a solid tenant than an extra $100-$200 per month. How much do landlords consider these tradeoffs? (I would question the judgement of somebody who would pary $1500 for a basement in this area.)

      • Yeah, someone who’s paying 1500 for a basement in Col Heights is probably someone who every other landlord in the city rejected….

        Also you’re not earning ANY rent when your apartment is vacant, and this is winter, so it’s in the best interest of the landlord to start realistic and negotiate if necessary.

      • You raise a good point MS – I have definitely considered the background of my tenants.

        I generally size them up when I meet them in person and then run their credit report. Basically I trust that a self-interested apt. consumer will have done all the market research for themselves, and if they want to pay the price for my product, that price is justified.

        Obviously it’s a still a gamble, but I’ve been lucky enough to get people with a 700+ credit score and FedGov-type jobs…so it’s been a low stress arrangement.

    • Agreed, and what’s not to say the OP can’t get a great, responsible tenant at $1425, or $1350?

  • As a landlord of a similar rental nearby, you could get $1,250 with no utilities or $1,400+ with all utilities (cable tv, wireless internet, electricity, water). Splitting utilities is a huge pain for everyone. If it’s not metered separately, build in the cost and estimate best you can. Lots of young renters live on that block. Ask around.

    I know that house and 1,000 sqft is a stretch.

  • You will have multiple applicants at 1350- assuming it’s marketed well (all you need is craigslist and more photos), has a full sized W/D, and there aren’t any major deal breakers that aren’t obvious from the photo. Nice one bedroom units rent fast in Columbia Heights. You’re paying gas/electric and that adds value. That’s a great location and it’s a brand new living space which is worth the price for many. I’d put it out there at 1400-1450 to see if you get any bites, but budget on 1350. Naysayers should check out the prices of one bedroom units in the newer apartments buildings in Columbia Heights! True- they’re closer to the metro and have some extra amenities, but they’re also pretty standard/boring apartments and have all the joys of apartment living (shared walls on all 4 sides etc). There are a lot of people who prefer living in smaller buildings- even if they are basements. Good luck (and I agree with a previous comment– make sure to get your permits (certificate of occupancy)! Its easier to do these days as many services for DCRA are available online!

  • I completely disagree on posting a high rent and going down if you have to. I’ve always simply posted a fair price – based on research of what else is on the market – and get lots of good applicants to choose from. I’ve had people offer to pay more – and know I could probably get an extra $100 or so for each of my current apts. but I’m more concerned that I have good tenants who are happy.

    I also consider an element of who is “deserving” of my nice apts. at good rents – giving extra points for those in world-helping type professions.

  • My boyfriend and I live in a second floor 2bdrm at 13 & Euclid for $1950 a month and would never have looked at a 1bdrm basement unit in this area for anywhere above 1300. We looked at basements in Dupont for $1400-$1500, not including utilities, and 1bdrms in AdMo for $1900 (WAY too small and overpriced but new refurbs). Speaking as someone who would be a potential renter for a place like this the carpet in a basement which tends to get musty even if it is well done and the itty bitty kitchen (which is much smaller than most basement kitchens I’ve seen in apt hunting) would be auto negatives in terms of what I would pay. It looks like a *nice* place, but not nice enough to warrant that much for a basement in this area. Another consideration: is it pet friendly? This is a dog friendly part of town and that could certainly be an additional selling point that some folks may pay a premium for (we are).

    I would also agree that starting high is not going to work well for this neighborhood. The people who are generally looking around here don’t want to pay $1500 for an English basement, maybe an upper level unit. I think you’d be passed over and lose time in finding a tenant and as somebody else mentioned, winter is not a great time to move an apt.

  • Hi!

    Thanks all for all the great feedback on our rental apartment. We decided to list it for $1350 (utilities included). We’re having an open house on Sunday – so those looking for a place please stop on by!



  • Are you actually paying that agent to rent your place? Why? An annoying website (creepy guy pop-up) never helps. And why such lousy photos? A FAUCET??? Do yourself a favor honey and don’t handicap yourself. It looks like an o.k. place and at $1,300 an o.k. price – just put it on CL.

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