Good Deal or Not? “Next door to Red Derby Bar” edition

This condo is located at 3900 14th Street, NW:

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The listing says:

“Newly Renovated Condos. Great Opportunity to own the best priced condos in Columbia Heights. Customize your unith New Stainless Steel Appliances, Choose Your Granite Counters, Washer & Dryer in unit, Huge Window with Tons of SunLight & Spacious Open Floor Plans. On-site Parking available for only 20k. 4 Blocks to Petworth Metro, 7 to Columbia Heights. Next door to Red Derby Bar. Priced to Sell!”

You can see more photos here.

This 1 bed/1 bath is going for $289,900 ($299 monthly condo fee.)

18 Comment

  • binpetworth

    Every time this building lists units for sale, the virtual tour includes an amalgamation of photos from several different units. I don’t think the price is too bad, but it’s hard to judge when you don’t actually know what you’re looking at.

  • Great deal if you don’t mind the sounds of mice scratching at the walls, urine soaked elevators and stairwells, paper thin walls and floors with very loud neighbors, and incompetent building management.

    • do you live in this building? That’s the one thing I would tell any one buying a condo I would ask your realtor to go during evening when everyone is home that way you can properly judge the extent of the noise from your neighbors.

      • I do live here and have for some time. Sadly, my claims are accurate. It might end up being an ok deal some years down the line, but quality of life in the interim isn’t going to be fun.

  • For a long time, I too, disregarded this building when apartment hunting. And while it did take two visits to find the right model for me, I bought a place here in the spring. Was a better value just 6 months ago but the place is nice and still a fantastic deal for a HUGE one bedroom.

  • I realize it is a Monday and my brain could be totally not functioning today, but there are pics of two bedrooms. Looks like it is 2 bedrooms/1 bath. If that is the case, it isn’t a bad deal (assuming sjx’s claims aren’t 100% accurate).

  • I live in this building – bought in April. I love it here. It’s super convenient to Columbia Heights and Petworth (looking forward to the new Safeway being built 3 blocks away), and a great value. It’s a transitioning building, so there are still some behavioral issues (peeing in the stairwells), but it’s getting better the more condo owners who arrive and the fewer tenants who live here. I have heard complaints about noise, but haven’t found that to be a big deal in my experience, or at least no more so than I would expect in any apartment building. I think the building is a great investment, particularly if you are willing to be a part of the “transition” time — five years from now, the area between Newton and Spring will look more like Columbia Heights does, the building will be 100% condo owner owned, and treated as such, and the amenities in Petworth will be even better. For the price, it’s a great deal!

    • As is everything in these blog posts, it is all in what you are willing to live with. At my age I am not willing to live in a building with pee in the stairs lol. I did check out this building as the sqft and price looked good. They did a nice job on the reno, some of the units had nice views and were pretty sizable, but none of the ones I saw had a WD inside, they were down inn the basement for all to use. I could hear many young kids running up and down the hallways and playing in the elevators, I saw what appeared to be a 6 person family leaving from the one bedroom unit next door to the one I looked at. I think a Latino legal group came in to help this mostly Latino immigrant family rented apartment building purchase the building and convert it into condos where the current renters got cheaper rates and the new buyers got higher rates to subsidize the purchase. This could be a good investment if you can get by with the quality of life, but for me, quality of life is the most important. I want a clean, safe, quiet well maintained home where I can come home at night, sit out on my deck, enjoy a cocktail and relax. These places will work great for lots of people, as everybody has a different idea of what is good for them. hey I’m ok / you’re ok lol : )

  • I also live in RT and agree with Jamie (who full disclosure is my [awesome] neighbour). It’s a bit rough around the edges but improving with time and I think in 3-5 years the neighbourhood will be very built up (it’s already a convenient area to live being easy walking distance to central Columbia Heights). Some really great Salvadorian food right nearby too, which is no small thing IMHO. It’s also virtually adjacent to Rock Creek Park, which being a walk lover I find very cool. From my perspective, totally worth what they are charging.

    • And O M G you are right across the street from the best BBQ in the city. Don’t let it fool ya, that sketchy run down plexi-glass secure building has AMAZING food at great prices. The Rib Pit, can I get a holla??

  • My dad did not like this neighborhood when we moved several years ago, but now he said he has equity of more than 400K in the house and things are a lot better in the neighborhood. so I this the same will happen with this building.

  • I did well buying in a much dodgier condo building – much longer ago. The comments from current owners seem very true & helpful. It could work out well for someone willing to put up with some crap for a few years – but don’t expect to make a windfall. At best, expect to live for less than paying rent and walk away with enough to move on to something better in 5-6 years.

    Definitely go over the condo docs & financial statements carefully. You want a huge reserve fund for a building like this. The condo fee seems a bit high – but if it is a well-run association with a lot of that fee going to reserves you could be o.k.

    • True financial statements are not really available because they refuse to separate condo and rental revenue/expenses. In the condo documents they give you a budget. The reserve being presented is not very large considering the age and state of the building.

      I always laugh when I see newer units being offered with a W/D. The condo docs say they aren’t allowed 🙂

  • I wonder who my neighbor SJX is… they are one dissatisfied puppy. To the contrary, this is a wonderful community in an excellent location. The units are bigger than you’ll find anywhere else in the city for the price. And expect the re-sale of your unit to be well-worth the investment. I lived for many many years in SE DC and moving to the big NW took a minute to get used to… but now I love it! Also I’ve never heard a mouse, or my neighbors for that matter.

    • I’m not a puppy ;). Just giving a realistic view of this building which is a lot more than I received when I purchased. You’re lucky to have never heard a mouse. I can look through the archives of the RT listserv and find many people who have heard and seen them so I know I’m not alone. Same goes for noise complaints.

      Having great neighbors is awesome, but that won’t stop the building from going in to foreclosure if the coop cannot continue meeting their sales goals.

  • I’m another resident here, and I actually LOVE it! Yes, there have been some issues as the building continues its transition to full condo ownership (the building has a bit of a storied history, which you can google), but it’s totally moving in the right direction, and the apartments are a wonderful deal. While I can’t say I’ve never heard annoying noises, it’s not been anything out of control at least around my apartment, and I’ve literally never seen one insect or rodent in my place. The deals now aren’t quite as good as when I bought nine months ago, but they’re still a bargain and very spacious.

    Regarding the pictures – as usual, the selling agents are putting up an amalgam of (very ugly) pictures of potential units. I almost wrote off seeing the building when I was looking for a place online because the pix they posted then were so ugly! Anyway, the good news is that there are different floor plans and you can do some customization of the kitchen (included in price), installation of washer/dryer, and they’ll paint per your requests. They’ll also customize other things for you for a relatively small fee, including installing wood floors (instead of the parquet), renovating bathroom, etc.

    I personally feel I made a great investment by buying here. And, as Jaime mentioned, the city is extending the Columbia Heights street-scape up to Randolph street over the next several years.

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