Good Deal or Not? “Built in 1977, well loved and cared for” edition

This home is located at 1349 Riggs St, NW:

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The flier says:

“Location, Location and Location best describes the opportunity with this property. Built in 1977, well loved and cared for, it will give the buyer the chance to use this clean palate to make a place of their own. Generous space with private yard space and reserved parking too. Close to all Logan Circle/U Street offers.”

You can find more info here and photos here.

This 4 bed/2 bath is going for $559,000 – sound realistic?

58 Comment

  • Wow, was everyone on drugs in the 1970s. Why would you build such a useless house. But, it is a great location.

  • I always thought that complex was some type of low income housing …

      • Me too!! Always thought it was section 8 condos or something. Hideous place, great location. I would not buy this place for that price.

        • i thought it was low-income housing, too!

          but i do think it’s a decent price (just a tiny bit high) considering the location, size, and the fact that there’s parking. darn ugly, but doesn’t look in awful shape…hard to look past the outside architecture, furnishings, and crazy paint colors, but can’t imagine it’d take too much money to make it look nice.

          • I parked my car in front of this place once and when I got back to it, there were like 5 rough looking teens sitting on the hood. Unless the thugs are gone, no way would I pay that much for that location.

        • saf

          Section 8 is a rental support program.

    • That’s the Frontiers complex, right? If I recall, that was in fact public housing. The property was converted to homeownership through a lease-purchase process that took years and years, with the original residents getting low-cost financing and soft second mortgages.

      I think that the original tenants are subject to a recapture provision if any profits are made, but I could be wrong about that.

      The price seems high, especially considering that this was not developed as a mixed-income community. At least with some of the newer redevelopments there’s a decent mix of income ranges. In this case, market-rate buyers will be trickling in one by one, without the critical mass required to make wholesale changes in the block.

  • it should be destroyed immediately.

  • W.O.W. Despite the fantastic location, there is no way I would pay more than $300k for this hideous house. This would be a developer’s dream. Buy all these houses, tear them down, and put up something that is actually decent.

  • I have to say – 1970’s architecture is not one of my favorites – anywhere. It’s as if everyone was high in the 70’s. Oh wait a minute – I think they were!

    Seriously though – this house has more space inside than I would have thought, but the price sounds a little high to me.

  • I was so excited when this place hit the market, then I saw the pictures . . . .

    This complex embodies everything I hate about 70’s and 80’s construction. EVERYTHING!

    Low ceilings, horrible curb appeal, bad lighting, etc.

    It would take a serious re-model to get this place looking half-way decent.

  • this house is a good argument in favor of formstone.

  • Now hold on, before everyone goes off on 1970’s architecture let’s take a good look at this place…..Christ on a mountain bike that house is fugly!! Dang girl, that got beaten by the ugly stick and then some.
    It’ll go in the low 500Ks.

  • this is a great example of the Early Yuppie architectural style. it should be preserved.

  • Kind of makes sense that the house is so horribly “decorated” by the current owner. You’d have to lack all sense of aesthetics to buy it in the first place.

    • You’re right. A really good real estate agent would insist on at least painting the walls to a neutral off-white. And get rid of the clutter. My god, if you can fit a table in the kitchen, don’t try to jam one in there! Otherwise, I’d never take this listing and have to put up with all the comments.

  • They only built this cheap ugly crap as a bow to people burnt out during the ’68 riots. I was hoping they’d rip the whole complex down. It didn’t look good back when it was built and it doesn’t look good now. No this is not a good deal.

    • Agreed, this is not a good deal.

      The only redeeming factor is that it’s only ~$320 per square foot at 1715 square feet. That’s cheap and doesn’t even take into consideration the parking spot. With the parking, it’s around $350 per square foot.

      So, if you could tolerate the exterior, you could gut this place and have a really nice sized 3 bedroom townhouse with gated parking for around $650K. Not too shabby.

  • That is horrendous. At least with new construction owners wouldn’t have to worry about lead paint/asbestos or whatever, but that price is ridiculous.

    • No one actually worries about lead paint.

      • Yeah, if lead paint were a legitimate concern 95% of the houses in DC would be uninhabitable.

      • A lot of people with small children worry like crazy about lead paint.

        Whether they should or not is a different discussion.

        • As someone who replaced all of his windows when he had kids, I’m intrigued by this. I’m not concerned about old paint on my baseboards and moulding, but the windows did freak me out a bit. Can you explain a bit more about this?

          • It’s a tough one. Almost all houses in DC do have lead paint, but almost all houses in DC need renovation at some point. The newest literature says to leave it alone whenever possible, encapsulating it in the walls or under some type of sealing paint. It’s only really a problem when a) the paint is flaking like crazy and b) there’s a young child present who can get to it, because the lead only really effects the child’s development in the early years. I mean, enough lead exposure will end up harming anyone, but developing children are at greater danger.

            There are a lot of rules now about lead abatement, but I doubt they are regularly followed. For instance, all the gut and rebuilds in town– surely these cause a ton of dust, and surely not all of these contractors are following the EPA guidelines for dealing with all of the lead-painted plaster walls, window sills, moulding, etc… I’m sure they would like to, but it’s just not always practical.

            As somebody who owns a house that has been renovated but not gutted, I try to make sure paint isn’t peeling anywhere, and pay special attention to any place a child could easily reach– like a windowsill or a radiator. I also would never have a kid in the room (or maybe even the house) if I were doing some work that involved demolition or kicking up paint dust of unknown composition.

    • this was built a year before the lead laws.

  • Keep in mind there’s a $200 HOA fee as well.

    No thanks. Maybe for 450k. Those houses shit up the whole block.

  • Hideous inside and out! I realize there’s not much they can do about the outside, but they could at least get rid of all of the dated furniture and decor on the inside. The photos scream, “This house smells like old people.”

  • Now this is just purely obscene!

    Property Tax
    Taxable Value
    Land $220,810
    Additions $515,240
    Total $736,050
    Tax (2009) $94


    Property taxes of $94. Someone has been living off the city for quite a while!

  • Riggs Rd at rush hour. Nuff said.

  • There are 2br condos with less than 1000sqft going for 600-700k within a block of this location.

    Yes, its ugly, no I wouldnt particularly want to live there… but damn, thats a great location and a lot of space. Someone who doesnt care if they live in something that more closely resembles a council flat in yorkshire more than a townhouse in DC.

    • Agreed. I think the price is right…

    • *will buy it and be very happy. I cant finish thoughts, apparently.

    • Thank you. It’s ugly, but it’s extremely cheap on a square footage basis. $50k price drop and I think they’d be beating buyers away with a stick. Parking is included, so that means the house price alone is more like $525k. What else is $525k and habitable in this neighborhood?

      I was imagining what could be if you put about $100k into this place. Maybe adopt the living/kitchen layout of this narrow condo up the street:

      Cute, huh? You’d never get those ceilings, but you’d get a very usable layout for entertaining. Add a master suite on the 4th floor, and keep 2 bedrooms on the 3rd.

      A buyer would have to look at this like “It’s a cave, but it could be a really nice looking cave in a great location.” The upstairs master would be gigantic, have a really modern bath, and walk in closet. Turn the rec room into a theater/playroom. You’d have two reasonably sized bedrooms for kids.

  • Sure, it’s ugly right now, but once you get rid of the current owners furniture and decorations, and give it a new coat of paint, I’d say its not at all that bad. Where else could you get a 4 bedroom in NW for that price?! The outside you are kind of stuck with.

    I’d take this over a “cute” renovated H st. 2 br town house for 600K any day.

  • houseintherear

    The lack of windows is a huge turnoff.

  • The sad thing is that there’s nothing they can do about the exterior. They can’t pop out the mansard, or expand or add windows, which could bring the whole house from fugly to fine. This is a basic problem with HOAs and single-family houses developed as part of a condo. Sure it limits defacement, but it limits enhancement even more.
    The real dumb decisions of the ’70’s were not the aesthetics, which can be corrected, but the property dispositions, which live on eternally as artifacts of law.

  • I wouldn’t buy it simply because it has an HOA. That means that big brother is watching – no exterior improvements, a bunch of silly rules like what kind of window treatments you can and can’t have – no thank you. Go a bit north and you can buy at this price with plenty of space, plenty of windows and you can do whatever you want to it.

    • That’s a good point. I lived in an HOA and was constantly getting bombarded with nasty letters (usually about things I wasn’t even doing).

  • To get some accurate history of the property may I suggest reading my old post
    or dig up “D.C. Frontiers, Inner-City Renewal Project, Will Open Soon: Inner-City Renewal Housing Project to Open Soon” by John Saar, Washington Post, 8/13/1973 pC1
    Yes they are ugly. Please point to anything residental built in the late 1970s that doesn’t look horrid. Brady Bunch suburban middle class split levels are ugly too.

  • The HOA is one issue, but the second is that if you spend any time walking down this street or around this development, you’ll notice that it is constantly teeming with seemingly unemployed do-nothings, no-good teens, and often shady looking deals going on. You can tell it was some sort of low-income housing, and many of the families will never care and will never leave. I wouldn’t go near that place for more than $250K

  • I tell you what, widen the 3rd floor dormer to a 2 window, replace the shingles with slate, add a porch, and paint, and it would be a DAMN nice house.

    That said, would never pay $550k for it. However, I do think ti could be made attractive with a little creativity and about $40k.

  • This property was renovated in the 90’s when it converted to home ownership. Since they used federal money, the lead was dealt with then. I think it’s overpriced, but $100k could transform the interior, and the location is great. Way better than a cookie cutter 2BR condo, in my mind.

    The location is great, and long-time residents consider the current street life a carnival compared to the old days. Certainly, the Frontiers residents have fought to improve the area, so the background could be seen as a plus.

  • I think it is a very good deal all the way around. There was an old VW magazine ad with a picture of a VW bug and the Apollo Lunar module which said, “It’s ugly, but it gets you there.” This townhouse may be ugly, but a four-bedroom on 14th Street at this low a price will help someone or a family who wants to live in the area “get there.” Somebody or somebodies is going to be very happy buying it. Snooty hipster may look down on you while drinking their watery PBR, but who cares about them.

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