Did I get a Good Deal or Not? “owner spared no expense” edition (reader request)

This home is located at 1712 Montello Ave, NE:


View Larger Map

The listing said:

“Spectacular renovation from top to bottom. The owner spared no expense. This inviting home has everything. Features include, parking, wood floors, ss appliances, finished basement w/ full bath, bedroom and rec area. Lovely 4br 3.5ba is in desirable location w/ access to metro and public transportation.”

You can see a virtual tour here.

The reader wrote:

“Contract price: $364,000 + sellers pay closing.

Pictures don’t show a small yard, fence, and 2-car driveway in the back.

The listings have the square-footage at 1,020, but it’s actually 1,276. Public records just updated to reflect this.”

Do you think $364,000 was a good deal for this 4 bed/3.5 bath?

80 Comment

  • No. I don’t think so.

  • if i was looking for a house, i would seriously consider this. location isn’t ideal for me, but easy access to bw parkway, h street, capitol hill seems like a nice convenience

  • Not for north Trinidad

  • What does “access to metro” really mean?

    • it depends.
      for listing agents it means < 5miles.
      for PoP commentors it means < .5miles.

    • Walk a sketchy 1.5 miles… access Metro.

    • YMMV. For me it means how far do I want to walk when I’m exhausted after a long day at work/carrying four bags of groceries/when it’s pouring rain/etc. So… less than a ten-minute walk at most. Is a mile or 1.5 doable? Sure. But under a normal/hard day’s conditions… it becomes a chore.

  • Good deal is in the eye of the buyer. If you love it and can afford it you probably got a good deal for you.

    It wouldn’t be for me, though.

  • Love this – ‘Did I Get A Good Deal Or Not?’. PoP can this be a regular feature – like once a week?

    • I agree, more insecure yuppy buyers needing validation, and public vetting of purchases please! Did I do good? Did I do good?

      • i’ve never met a person, yuppie, or otherwise that hasn’t wondered and thought about the value of a recent and very expensive purchase like a house or a car.

        maybe your world is the very rich that don’t think about such things, but everyone that works for their money talks about it.

        • No, only insecure folks with the constant need for validation talk about such things.

          • Dude, do you own property everybody who owns property around the city is always curious of what people paid for theirs. Some houses are under or over valued based on the neighborhood and proximity to the metro. If you had any investment in a house you would want to know.

          • I’m more interested in what’s considered an actual deal in specific neighborhoods. If I saw this in the Real Estate postings I might consider this a good deal but information about crime stats and the area (as seen here) shows a different story. Not looking for validation here just more information. – the original OP

          • Umm, yes. I own a house and commercial office space, and have owned many others in the past.

            Not once have I ever gone to anyone in person or on the blogosphere to have them validate my purchase.

            Frankly, this is in the same vein of the folks who drive around for a week after they bought a new car, leaving the price sticker in the window for validation.

            As I’ve already stated, this person has more to lose than gain by asking a bunch of random people to help them feel good about something they spent nearly 400K on. As the responses have shown, the majority think it was a pretty bad move. All this little exercise has done is ferment a case of buyers remorse that will fester for quite some time.

        • My experience has been the opposite. People discuss how happy they are with a major purchase, but nobody discusses price. Generally, that’s in poor taste.

          • i agree, no need to seek validation after the fact. you better do your research before the purchase to KNOW it is a good deal for you! it is bad taste…

  • Might be one of the scariest looking https://www.crimereports.com/ maps I’ve seen :-(

    • Actually if you put the address in the MPD crime map, the numbers are actually lower than some blocks in Petworth, Capitol Hill and other neighborhoods considered “safer.” (I do a lot of these searches as I’m house hunting….) Of course the numbers alone don’t mean much and everyone has their own comfort level with the feel of the neighborhood, but just saying this isn’t the scariest crime map I’ve seen. :)

      • +1 Exactly.

        I think it was a decent deal and I think the neighborhood will continue to appreciate. Remember how everyone talks about how all the intown neighborhoods aren’t affordable? Well this one is and is centrally located.

        Who knows what will happen with RE though. At a minimum you should be fine with a ten year time frame.

  • Let me give you a piece of advice. As soon as you make an offer on a house and give them a deposit, i.e., have skin in the game, stop looking. Cancel your search criteria on Redfin, stop going to open houses, stop looking at listings and above all else, NEVER ask anyone whether you got a good deal. Why? Because invariably you are going to find people who don’t agree with you and it is just going to annoy you.

    It sounds like you already have a case of buyers remorse. Why ask? You’ve now gotten yourself into a 50/50 win-lose scenario because what are you going to do if a bunch of people think it was a bad purchase? It isn’t like you can use a mulligan.

    What you should have done was send the question into PoP the week before you made an offer, now it doesn’t really matter what anyone says because you own it.

    Having said all that, I will feed the beast. No, I don’t think you got a very good deal. Living in the ‘Dad aside which I would personally never do, the comps say you have the most expensive house sold in a half mile radius on a sq footage basis (yes, your 1276 sq/footage, not the listed size. You never want to be the comp setter.

    The finishes look ok, it doesn’t look like a total home depot s*^t show but then again the previous owners only owned it for a few months and sold it for ~265K more than they bought it for.

    • I totally agree with your first point. As a neutral observer, I’m kind of interested in what people think, especially those who know more about the market than I do. As a potential buyer, I would probably be interested in what people think with the caveat that others don’t know my preferences and may not be familiar with the neighborhood. But I would not be asking this question after buying a place of my own for the exact reasons you state.

      • I agree with the first point too. It’s an especially bad idea to solicit anonymous blog comments about a neighborhood like Trinidad that people have VERY strong opinions about. Chances are the buyer is more familiar with the neighborhood and the market than anyone here is, so he/she has the best idea of whether it was a good deal or not. And given that the buyer went through with the offer, it probably was a good deal. It’s normal to second-guess yourself after making such a big purchase but they probably know it was the right thing to do.

        Some of my partner’s suburban relatives thought we had made an incredibly stupid purchase when we bought in Capitol Hill, but we had to keep reminding ourselves that they have no idea what they’re talking about. They’re not the ones who were out every weekend for the past two years lookng at properties in DC.

        • “It’s an especially bad idea to solicit anonymous blog comments about a neighborhood like Trinidad that people have VERY strong opinions about.”

          I’ve read with interest everyone’s comments, so I don’t think it was such a bad idea. People on this blog, anonymous or not, live all over the city and share interesting things about neighborhoods that I know little about. It isn’t a wasted exercise in my humble opinion, and I’m interested to see what people think.

          • Well, that’s sort of my point. I don’t think most of the people commenting here actually know Trinidad or its housing market as well as the person who just bought the house there.

  • I live in Trinidad. Been around for years, back before H Street got hoppin’. So, from my point-of-view, no- you didn’t get a good deal.

    -This particular block isn’t very close to much of anything
    -Montello, especially the north end, is one of the sketchier areas
    -You paid a lot more than I would have, but the value of the house to me isn’t what’s important. You were willing to pay that amount, and the price was agreeable to you.

    Advice:

    -Make eye contact and say hi to everyone, especially the corner boys. (THIS IS A MUST)
    -Get to know your neighbors, and make a point to introduce yourselves (even us not-so-new newcomers hate the new crop of newcomers that don’t want to be a part of the neighborhood)
    -Get to know the dynamics of your particular block (they vary widely form each block) and folks’ situations before you go calling city agencies, your ANC, etc. for every little thing
    -Help your neighbors out, sweep the sidewalk, mow each others’ lawns, etc.

    • saf

      Amen and amen and amen and amen.

    • -Get to know your neighbors, and make a point to introduce yourselves (even us not-so-new newcomers hate the new crop of newcomers that don’t want to be a part of the neighborhood)

      +1,000. We have some new neighbors who won’t make eye contact, or answer a smile or wave. They scurry into their houses, shut the door. Why bother living in the city? Might as well live in a ‘burb.

  • Beautiful house! You certainly couldn’t find a freshly (beautifully) renovated 4 bedroom house in any other part of the city for under 5-700K. That being said, the reason you could get so much house for such little price is that the neighborhood (Trinidad) had police checks/road blocks up to control the murder rate until the Supreme Court deemed it unconstitutional a few years ago.

    I’d say that you got a lot of house for comparatively little money. If you’re happy with the location, you got a good deal.

  • I think your home is lovely, and if you’re happy and excited to be there, then you got a good deal. Hey, you own real estate in DC. Congratulations.

    • To the OP, this is the only reply you should consider.

      Whether or not you could have paid less is now immaterial. It’s your new house, and hopefully you’ll find a way to make it a home. On the assumption that a fair market price is what a willing buyer will pay a willing seller in an arm’s length transaction, you paid a fair market price.

      And even if you sell it for less down the road, just think about how much rent money you didn’t spend for the duration of your time there.

  • “Advice:
    -Make eye contact and say hi to everyone, especially the corner boys. (THIS IS A MUST)
    -Get to know your neighbors, and make a point to introduce yourselves (even us not-so-new newcomers hate the new crop of newcomers that don’t want to be a part of the neighborhood)
    -Get to know the dynamics of your particular block (they vary widely form each block) and folks’ situations before you go calling city agencies, your ANC, etc. for every little thing
    -Help your neighbors out, sweep the sidewalk, mow each others’ lawns, etc.”

    This is quite possibly the best advice I have seen on this site. I could not agree more and practice everything you noted. Your parentheses after point number 2 is a particular pet peeve of mine.

    • Agreed. best advice (and possibly best post) I’ve read here

    • Also agree 100%. Those things are crucial to your safety but they also just make life more enjoyable.

      I hate it when new people move in and won’t even look at me and I’ve only been in my house 2 years.

  • You didn’t get a good deal, but the seller sure did. Here’s the problem – it’s a 4bd/3.5ba FAMILY house in one of the least family-friendly neighborhoods in the city. No decent schools nearby, not safe to let your kids play outside alone, not safe to walk to public transit when distracted with toddlers especially after dark, no good parks or playgrounds anywhere around, and no real chance of that changing in the next 5-10 years. The bigger problem is that to rent it out and make your monthly note, you’re probably looking at $2,000+ per month you’d need in rent. Check craigslist. In this neighborhood you’re lucky to get half that. As for re-sale, you’d have to find someone who wasn’t scared of the area, wanted a family home with no family, and had the income to pay what you paid or more.

    Now, all that being said, if it appraised at this price (and the bank wouldn’t finance it if it didn’t), you probably didn’t over-pay by more than 5%. Appraisals have gotten a *lot* more strict over the last few years. Just don’t expect to make yourself a millionaire when you sell. If it works out that you just got to live there for a while rent-free, consider yourself a winner who did better than every friend you had who rented for the same time.

    • Long time reader, first time commenter. Had to rebut some of this comment from someone who clearly has never set foot in Trinidad.

      Re: access to parks – 2 minute walk to the new community center, with a football field, softball fields, a basketball court and nice playground. A staggering 7 minute walk away is the new Joe Cole park which is lovely.

      15 minute walk to H St. Fertile breeding ground for future renters at Gallaudet U. Development now creeping up Bladensburg Road w/ the Atlas Flats already renting units, with ground floor retail coming.

      Public transit – 3 bus lines go straight down Montello with access to Union Station, Chinatown and Downtown.

      This is pretty far north in Trinidad and the southern portions are obviously quicker to develop, but long term this isn’t a bad investment. The house looks great. And we absolutely love the neighborhood.

      • Agree with all these points. For someone who has a car and is willing to drive it every now and then (a typical DC homeowner, in other words) this property is nice because you have space to park a car and it’s easy to drive to other places from here. At the same time there are enough bus lines and things within walking/biking distance that you can get away with not driving most of the time.

      • Anddd it looks to be real close to the National Arboretum. Pretty much the largest park in DC. TREES EVERYWHERE.

  • I vote yes. Good house, good (not great) price, but I’m sure you got one of those amazing historically-low 30 yr mortgage rates which means that your monthly pymt is low and you got no condo fees or condo boards.

    I think that location is super convenient and getting a lot better quick. A lot of nice long term residents, too. It’s quick to Fla Ave and then to U St or H Street, and to NY Ave, and the new Walmart is going to be a short hop up WV Ave. There’s a lot of development in Ivy City, too, so I think there will be some new residents in this area soon. I like the location. Congrats.

    • The square footage seems small for the number of bedrooms. The kitchen seems tiny and the bed being close to the window means that at least one bedroom is more walk-in closet than bedroom. It’s a house rather than a condo with more rooms than you’d find in a more mainstream neighborhood, but it’s small spaces and in a neighborhood that raises red flags for others.

      • Although the sq-ft will make it seem like a small space for 4 bed/3.5bath, some of those rooms will obviously be small but I was surprised by the light-filled rooms for some of those rooms, even the small bedrooms. I also noticed that some of the ceilings were high or unusually angled, which make for less cramped spaces for small rooms.

        I disagree with Rich; though the kitchen doesn’t look gigantic, the way it was layed out makes it an entirely pleasant workable space (it’s bigger than some other kitchens we’ve seen), and it pretty smartly layed out so you don’t feel the smallness/cramped feeling if you were to enclose the kitchen within 4 walls. I also think the cabinet space, counter space is decent. I, personally, would love to have more (but that’s just me) but I think the kitchen has a nice feeling in the space. There have been real estate listings with kitchens that seem to have a similar size and set-up and I don’t seem to recall your complaining about the size of the kitchens. Perhaps the difference is that these were in million dollar homes.

    • I agree. I think it’s a pretty good deal, especially if the renovations are all the seller makes them out to be. It’s a solid investment in the long term- the wave of gentrification heading north from H St is sure to make things better, slowly but surely. Congratulations!

  • no, that’s a big hell no.. You would have to pay me a million dollars and pay for an armed protection detail for me to consider that house. That whole area is scary.

    • I bet you have never been to Trinidad, let alone lived there. It’s really not that bad, it suffers from a bad reputation because of the barricade thing a few years back. Hating on Trinidad reminds me of all the people that shudder when the word “southeast” is uttered. The ironic thing is that the crime rate is much higher in their comfortable Georgetown and Dupont homes than much of Southeast.

      • Now that’s a first. Vouching for a neighborhood while simultanesously recognizing local cops once singled it out for barricading.

        • I don’t understand this comment. It makes sense to mention that Trinidad’s bad reputation is based on a policy that was in place years ago and is no longer an issue.

      • Much higher in Dupont or Georgetown?

        Yeah, ok. I suggest you take the crime map link someone provided below for a little spin.

        In a two day period, from 3/18/12 to 3/20/12 in a qtr mile radius of this house there have been:

        5 thefts from a person
        3 Breaking and Entering
        7 thefts from a vehicle
        4 assaults with a deadly weapon

        There are also 23 registered sex offenders within the same radius.
        6 robberies

        In ALL of Gerogetown, from Foxhall to RCP and from Resevoir to Water street, an area 5 times LARGER than above and during the same time period there have been.

        6 Breaking and Enterings
        4 thefts
        8 thefts from vehicles
        1 robbery
        2 assaults with a deadly weapon.

        2 registered sex offenders.

        Lets not try to pretend that Trinidads reputation isn’t well earned.

        • Read my comment again. I wasn’t comparing the crime rate of Trinidad with Dupont/Georgetown. I was making a general point about perceived misconceptions about crime. I said “parts of southeast,” e.g. capitol hill, compared to Dupont/Georgetown.

      • Ah, Trinidad residents, who love to trot out “BUTBUTBUT, our crime rate is lower than Dupont!!!”

        No, it isn’t. The TOTAL number of crimes may be lower, but that’s because the total number of people who live and visit Trinidad is much, much lower than Dupont. The total crime RATE of Trinidad (crimes per capita) is astronomically higher than Dupont.

  • I know its a house and its 4 bedrooms but you live in a sketchy ass neighborhood. i would take the advice listed and become real friendly quick with your neighbors because some of them will stab you.

  • Adding to the chorus of “there’s no point in asking whether you got a good deal after you’ve already made the deal.” It wouldn’t be for me, but who cares what I think? If you’re looking for non-fixer upper single family homes in this price range, you make some tradeoffs. All the negatives people mentioned are on point, but assuming you did your research, and figured that into the offer price, just move on and enjoy your new place. In terms of buying in DC, you’ll probably do ok if you’re in this for the long term (at least 5 years).

  • Everyone’s hating on this deal now, but in 10 years, the new owner will (probably) have the last laugh. He or she has big balls for buying in that neighborhood now (I recommend getting a large dog), but it will get better- slowly but surely.

  • Wow, this one really got the gad flies buzzing. As someone who once drove through this neighborhood at high speed a number of years ago, I can probably provide the most nuanced opinion:
    you won’t know whether you got a good deal or not until you’ve lived there a while.

  • I would never buy this house. Its a great home for a small family, but a terrible neighborhood to raise a small family in, so who exactly is your re-sale market? Columbia Heigts continues to struggle wit crime these many years after major re-development began. Trinidad has seen nothing of that scale, so is decades away from being what most small families would consider “liveable”. You basically bought the best house on a bad block, which isn’t a good idea for safety or for resale.

    But all of this is just from the perspective of a white single male yuppie. It may be a great deal for you. I think the asusmption here is that everyone that reads POP are yuppies. But what if the buyer is African American and has family connections to the neighborhood, like parents living nearby? What if they grew up there? What if they grew up in a similar neigborhood in another city and feel completely comfortable with the callenges this neighborhood presents?

    So, I’m a snob on this — I’m gonna say no way. But I also realize that I’m coming from a particular perspective, and your mileage will likely vary.

    • 1. I do not assume that the PoP readership is yuppie.
      2. Who is to say that “African Americans” (your term) could not be yuppies.
      3. If someone grew up in similar-type neighborhood, why would they be more comfortable and have a proprensity towards feeling comfortable in similar neighborhood with similar challenges?

      I find your assumptions to be pejorative and you do not speak for me.

  • You’ll need to expend a lot of energy finding a way to become your own individually integrated part of the community. The neighborhood is downright exhausting after a few months no matter who you are, lots of people are hurting very badly and that filters around just like any natural system. I’ve had a close friend live a year one block from there and now owning a place up on Queen St. If you like/can process a good dose of the dark side of the US dream and it’s consequences, you’ll grow a whole bunch over the next chunk of your life.

  • First, kudos for throwing yourself to the wolves.

    Second, I have to agree with others that this is not an especially good deal. It’s not awful either, but… as others have said, this is not the best part of Trinidad, it’s not really near much, and it’s opposite a rather ugly brown brick square of houses/apartments rather than similar historic rowhouses.

    Pics look nice. As others have said, you have taken the plunge. Don’t look back, make it your own, and don’t forget to work on improving your neighborhood as much as improving your house.

  • As a proud resident of southern Trinidad(moved here in late 2010, bought my first house, loved it ever since – it really is a great neighborhood), i’d say you got an OK deal. Not great but not terrible either. FWIW, I paid about $250/sq ft when I bought mine and I got a great deal based on comps at the time. That part of the neighborhood is still a bit sketch but getting better. I say the advice given earlier about fitting in is spot on and I couldn’t have said it better myself. Lastly, welcome to the neighborhood!

    • Surely you knew the odds were against you that this crowd would deem your purchase a good deal. I haven’t seen a GDON post yet where the yesses trumped the nos.

  • It’s really too personal. For me, to live in now, and not save as a second-property for development in the future, $1 is too much for a house not near the Metro. $1 is also too much to pay for the destruction of the original brick arches and almost all the moulding and the addition of boring Home Depot pre-fab.

    For you, you may like driving and parking in DC, or walking more than a mile to Metro, and you may like the Home Depot look or are willing to live with it for a few years until you save $100k to gut and rebuild. So the only thing that will determine if this is a good deal or not is whether the builders properly insulated the cathedral ceiling in the front bedroom. I know so many people who have opened that space up and failed to insulate it, and thus burn up in the summer.

  • Maybe not a great deal right now, but give it 5 years. And in response to claim there are no renovated houses below 500k, try Brightwood & North Petworth. Plenty in the 400k range up here.

    • and Rosedale, Kingman Park, and Hill East… been a couple sub-$400 reno’d properties from these areas as GDoN’s recently (all better deals than this place, IMO)

  • I’m the buyer on the house listed. I’ve read the comments throughout the day, but I haven’t been able to post until now because I was busy at work. I appreciate everyone’s comments, the good and the bad. I must admit, i posted this because I kind of like to stir things up a bit, and I had a feeling that a house in this neighborhood at this price point might do just that. I’m pretty happy with my purchase. I walked around all over the neighborhood several times before buying, and I felt a sense of community that I’ve never really felt before in DC. I knew that this was something I want to be a part of. I’m definitely going with my gut on this one, and it’s a risk that could blow up in my face, but I have a feeling it won’t. I’d like to get a bit of a group house going here. If I were to rent to a few friends, I would be paying significantly less monthly than I do now to rent a room in a house in the NW. By posting, I’ve also learned some useful tips about the area from those who live there. Thanks! I look forward to being your neighbor.

    • Hi Neighbor!
      I bought in the 1600 block of Montello 2 years ago… Wonderful neighbors in and around this street. I can’t even begin to tell you the positive changes that have happened since…my out-of-town parents were especially amazed…I’m not exaggerating just to let everyone know “how great Trinny is”, it’s just neat to watch it happen. As in most situations like this, be alert, but I feel comfortable walking south down to H st after dark as a single female. Knowing your neighbors is key! I used to cruise the police reports, but seriously never heard or felt any of the effects of what’s listed. I know the shop on the corner of mt Olivet has lots of loiterers, which is probably where most of the trouble is. Hope to meet you soon!

    • Hi, neighbor! I live directly behind you — the house with the mustang in the backyard. Hope to see you around, and please come introduce yourself sometime! See you around the neighborhood (that I’ve lived in for over a year and am really fond of).

  • We will be neighbors soon! I am under contract on a ivy city property about a block away. Cheers!

  • I walk by this house every morning on my way to the bus stop. I’ve lived less than a block from there for just shy of 5 years, theoretically I could afford to live in other parts of the city but I have no desire to because I love it here and I think that you will too

  • As a person who lived in Trinidad for the first 22 years of her life I think that you will enjoy the neighborhood. Your neighbors will speak to you and take an interest in you. In my neighborhood of Bloomingdale, I know the first names of only 4 of my neighbors. As neighbors we speak to each other but I miss that personal connection and interaction like, How was your day? How is the family doing? My experience has been that neighbors look out for one another. When it snows or there is a unique weather situation like Hurricane Isabel from a few years ago, you will see how people look out for one another.

    Enjoy your close access to Eastern Market, H Street (H Street Day), Harris Teeter, the new Giant on H Street and the future Walmart and Costco. Excuse me for the excitement there was a long break between Hechinger Hardware and the arrival of Home Depot. We may not have everything the suburbs have but we definitely have more than we did before. I am glad that I no longer have to travel 20 minutes away from home to pick up flowers for my yard.

    Experience the beauty of the National Arboreteum, the 15 minute bus ride downtown and the 20 minute ride to Alexandria, 10 minute ride downtown, 20 minute ride to National Airport. Enjoy the breaktaking canopy of trees that are filled with birds that will sing sweetly to you as you awake. In the fall enjoy the annual sound of the football games at Galluadet as the leaves turn to yellow, red, and orange. Listen to the laughter from children arriving at school. Hear and see the joy in their spirit. Most importantly enjoy your new home and welcome to the neighborhood. I hope that you experience the goodwill and beauty of the neighborhood and its surrounding.

  • I just moved to southern Trinidad and have to agree with posters singing its praises. I’ve only been in the house for two weeks and my neighbors have all gone out of their way to come meet us and get to know us and we love it! We knew we wanted to move somewhere that’s a real community and Trinidad definitely has that.

  • I just want to encourage the person who asked the question, and other folks who are new to Trinidad, to please come to the next Trinidad Neighborhood Association meeting. Meet more neighbors (and we’d love to meet you!)

    http://trinidadneighborhood.org/

Comments are closed.