Good Deal or Not? “Condo fees super LOW!!!” edition

714 Rock Creek Church Road Northwest

This unit is located at 714 Rock Creek Church Road, Northwest. The listing says:

“Beautiful 4br/ 3ba 2 level condo with all the amenities and convenience. One block to metro, shops and dining!!!! This has it all, upgrades throughout with plenty of space, storage and parking. Condo fees super LOW!!!”

You can see more photos here.

This 4 bed/3 bath is going for $575,000 ($110 monthly fee.)

31 Comment

  • My first thought was “Man, that work looks shoddy.” That feeling never really left.

  • What wood are those floors made from? That’s the most interesting part of the house! Those bathrooms though.. ugh.

  • Is the refrigerator getting a time out over there? Seems like odd placement.

    • That was my first thought. Looks like they just rolled it in and left it there after taking all the packing off.

      Generally speaking the kitchen looks casually “put together” though “put together” is a bit generous for what is going on.

  • “Condo fees super LOW!!!”
    Translation: You won’t have enough in reserve for any major repair and will have to do a special assessment that will cost you thousands of dollars as soon as something breaks. And you’ll need to raise the fee to be ready for the next repair.

  • Condo are fees are low now. New owners moving in will likely have to raise them. If not, they’ll have no reserve funds and/or won’t have the requisite amount of condo insurance on their master policy.

    • Yes, this happened to me when I bought a condo nearly 20 years ago; the building had recently gone condo and the developer kept the condo fees artificially low to lure buyers in. We knew that going in, and never had any regrets, even after the fees were inevitably raised and there were a couple of special assessments. This was a larger building with multiple units so at least the costs were spread out; we also had a good management company and a strong condo board. But I have to wonder about these private homes converted into (3? 4?) condos. Seems like it would be the worst of both worlds: all the nuisance & inconvenience of owning your own house (because the responsibility, maintenance & costs are spread over so few owners) and none of the benefits (more space, privacy, yard, etc.). Having owned both a condo and (currently) a house, there are definitely times I miss the convenience of the management company & condo board taking care of things!

  • Why on earth would someone put a ceiling fan in next to a wall. Just terrible workmanship.

  • Accountering

    This is a stupidly low condo fee. If it doesn’t get raised, when something goes wrong, get ready for a $10,000 assessment.

  • I think all this boo-hooing about the low condo fee is kind of silly. It is a 2-unit building. Provided you and your neighbor agree to make repairs, why on Earth would you rather have thousands of dollars sitting in reserve waiting for a repair? I mean, if any of you own a home, do you establish a reserve fund just for your house? $10,000 repairs don’t typically just fall from the sky. You can notice your roof starting to go. Paint chipping. Mortar failing. Then you plan accordingly.

    It makes sense if you have multiple units – but really, in this case, it’s a waste to keep a huge balance. As long as you can pay your annual operating expenses and put the requisite 10% aside, keep your cash in your own account.

    • This is a bad idea because you are depending on the other owner to be responsible and save, which is foolhardy. It’s also a bad idea because at any time the other condo can change ownership, with the new owner getting shocked with a surprising special assessment. Worst case, the other owner anticipates repairs being needed and sells to get out of the responsibility. The reason you contribute each month is consistent with the concept of depreciation, which is that you should ‘pay as you go’ the operational expenses of living in the shared space.

    • Reserves help resale. They spread the costs amongst new an old owners. In twenty years when this is in need of a new roof you will have a good reserve in place so that you can sell to a buyer that will not have to factor in this upcoming cost.

    • Yes, in a perfect world you save your money, in your own bank account, or in stocks/funds if you are a bit riskier. However you can’t depend on other owners doing the same. What happens when it needs a $15K roof and the neighbors are broke?

      A good master policy on the structure will cost at least $1,500 a year, if not $2,000. That’s $150 a month right there (albeit split two ways it looks in the photo).

      The reason people have a problem with it is because the developer is touting the low condo fee, hoping to get a higher sales price. Its a sneaky way to drive up price with no real added value.

  • Besides the ceiling fan, I don’t see obviously shoddy workmanship, although the refrigerator placement is odd. And I agree with squish, I love the wood on the stairs and floors. Is this what a condo is going for now in this area?

    • That’s what a basement-level condo is going for in this area, unfortunately.

      • I think this condo is the upper three floors of the house, and the basement is a separate condo.

        • Oops, never mind. I see it’s described as a “2-level condo.” It doesn’t look to me like it includes the basement, but I’m puzzled about the layout. Isn’t the front door with its distinctive bars visible in one of the interior shots?

          • Look at the kitchen photo looking towards the front, you’ll see what looks like a basement-level window (positioned relatively high up). I’m also somewhat confused by the layout, but I’m almost positive that the kitchen level is in the basement.

          • I’ve looked at the photos some more, and I’m still really confused. It looks like the door has a transom AND a narrow window beside it, which doesn’t seem to match anything in the photo from the front of the house. Maybe it looks like a front door but goes to a deck at the back of the house?? Very confusing.
            I was also noticing that there’s a photo showing two consecutive flights of stairs. I guess those must be in a hallway area that both units have access to — given that both units are two levels each, neither of them should have two consecutive flights of stairs.

          • It’s the top two floors. The “front door” is at the bottom of the stairwell. The door in the kitchen goes to a back porch. The windows in the master bedroom match the windows on the 3rd floorl.

          • Also, the bedroom with all the doors and those two overhead storage space areas (which IMO should have had doors too) looks like they merged the third floor and attic to create higher ceilings.

  • Emmaleigh504

    I’m intrigued with the room with all the doors.

  • I’d like for this unit to sell for a good price, as I live nearby… but man, there are a lot of things about it that I really don’t like.
    The wood they’ve used for the stairs is all wrong — looks like pine (?). The kitchen reminds me of my own kitchen in that it’s got precious little cabinet space and the few cabinets that exist have glass doors, making them impractical for storing pantry-type items. The placement of the fridge is bizarre.
    The towel rack in the bathroom in the final photo looks like it’s been mounted so high that it would be hard for anyone to reach, and if you _did_ hang a towel over it, it would be right in front of the air vent. Another bathroom has two tiny little shelves mounted above the toilet — small enough not to be useful for much, but placed so that you’d have a hard time making better use of the space by installing shelving or putting up a toilet etagere.
    And I am really getting tired of exposed brick.

    • I agree about the stairwell, rustic knotty pine (especially with those railings) is totally inappropriate here. To me the floors look like some sort of cheap laminate, but that’s harder to tell.
      And are those stainless steel doors on the lower cabinets? Stainless is already on its way out of style, those already look dated.

  • RE: low fees.
    The lower the fee, the more potential buyers you can market this to. As I understand it, the lender will look at the fee and factor that into their underwriting decision w/r/t “can Anonymous afford this home – yes/no.” If you’re a young professional and expect your wages to increase with time, it makes sense to get into a place with a low fee and then raise in a year or two after your next promotion. Basically, it allows you to borrow more.

  • BYOCabinets and fireplace surround. Egads.

    With this much visible corner cutting, you’ve got to worry about the invisible corner cutting…

  • what roofing material is that in the front? it looks awful.

  • I don’t see all the corner cutting everyone on here is talking about. I think the kitchen looks fine, apart from the floating fridge puzzle. That “room with all the doors” looks like an amazing master bedroom with vaulted ceilings. I would love some of that storage up there above the closets. The “ceiling fan too close to the wall” looks like a photo optical illusion thing. I agree the stairwell style is a bit icky, so are the bathrooms. What happened to staging? Would have made a world of difference now that all houses on the market are staged. I personally go to open house about as much to see the latest home decoration staging choices as to see the remodel itself (not in the market – bought 4 years ago).

Comments are closed.