GDoN “2,000+ SF and parking” edition (reader request)

1815 LAMONT St NW

This unit is located at 1815 Lamont Street, NW. The listing says:

“The Lamont – two new, gorgeous condos with 2,000+ SF and parking! Number Two features 3BR/2.5BA, 8’2-9’10 ceilings throughout, open main level living with chef’s kitchen w/Wolf gas range & hood, Subzero fridge & Bosch dishwasher. Lux master suites w/large closets, sep shower & soaking tub plus smart home tech inc Nest thermostats, Sonos & video intercoms.”

GDoN

You can see more photos here.

This 3 bed/2.5 bath is going for $1,250,000 ($470 monthly fee.)

Ed. Note: Unit 1 is is listed at $1,125,000.

104 Comment

  • HaileUnlikely

    Nice unit? Sure. Good deal? Are you out of your mind? You can get a whole nicely-renovated house in the same neighborhood with an income-generating legal rental unit in the basement for about that much.

    • For less, even. Places with rentable basements on Klingle & Monroe have recently closed for less than this. But for reasons that escape me, there are some buyers that just prefer these condo conversions to single-fam rowhomes. There’s a renovated house on the market for near me for $1 million and it’s sat on the market for months. A condo conversion on a less-desirable street listed for the same price and was under contract after one weekend.

      • It’s insane and I don’t get it either. It seems like the prices for condo conversions keep getting higher and higher, and people are paying!

        • I don’t get it either.
          .
          And when units like these sell, it jacks up the prices for all real estate in the neighborhood — “luxury” or otherwise.

    • I really wish people would stop buying these. They are driving up the market unnecessarily and given investors incentive to do more of these flips.

      For a million dollars as everyone stated you can get an entire Single Fam row home or a detached home in the district.

      • “I really wish people would stop buying these. They are driving up the market unnecessarily”
        .
        i think you need to go back to econ 101…

        • I would respond but I honestly do not have the energy at the moment.

        • To be fair, stacksp only expressed a “wish” that people stop buying properties like this. Econ 101 – i.e., supply v. demand – does not really address wishes as to how markets should operate.

        • Sure, take the government out of housing and then we can talk about Econ 101. But all these people are bidding up housing with government-guaranteed, borrowed money.

          • yeah, but the entire demand has access to the same government-guaranteed, borrowed money, so it’s not like that really impacts the strange idea that buyers are driving up the market “unnecessarily.”

          • Developers are generally bidding with all-cash offers — would-be owner-occupants don’t have a very good chance of beating them out.
            .
            They can also pay more for a property than it’s really “worth,” because they’re looking not at whether (say) $729K is an appropriate price for the current property in its current condition, but at what the difference is between their offer and what they think they can resell it for after dividing it up into two units.

          • They’re not paying more than its really worth. They are paying what its worth – current value + value of the intrinsic option for development. Sorry but that’s the worth of it.

          • I put “worth” in quotation marks for a reason. Think of it as “the worth of the property to anyone who isn’t a developer and doesn’t have the $$$ to split it into multiple units.”

          • The developer is just providing a service to someone who thinks the house (or rowhouse condo) is “worth”, say, $1.1m. You’re just defining worth by eliminating someone who can pay more from the pool of buyers. That’s just not how it works, even though I wish I could find a seller who subscribed to this theory. Better yet, I would like to find a seller who also eliminated wealthier owner-occupants from the pool as well, until the house was “worth” simply what I want to pay.

          • If you somehow barred the developer from doing this, you might just be limiting the pool of buyers even further by only getting owner-occupants who can afford to renovate themselves and rent out the other unit. I’m not stating that as a fact; it’s just a possible result (which is presumably undesirable to you) of the counterfactual you seem to wish may occur. Markets are hard to manipulate to some ephemeral desire (in this case; housing affordability without increased supply).

          • “you might just be limiting the pool of buyers even further by only getting owner-occupants who can afford to renovate themselves and rent out the other unit” — Except that this house presumably was not a two-unit building to begin with. Most of the condo conversions we’re seeing are SFH rowhouses being converted into two (or sometimes three) units.
            .
            You’re also assuming that the original house needed renovations. Quite possibly it did… but it’s also entirely possible that it was perfectly livable the way it was.

          • HaileUnlikely

            If you look up the address on Redfin, you can see exactly what the developer bought for $896K in 2014.
            .
            Honestly, at this price point, I don’t much care what a developer does with it. I identify with somebody who can buy a house for $896K no more than I identify with somebody who can buy a condo for $1.25M. I do detest it, though, when developers buy modest houses for <$300K, invest <$100K in improvements, and then sell for like $800K+, basically taking from one segment of the market and giving to another. This isn't that, though. This was already way far beyond the means of the common folk to begin with.

      • i wish someone would sell me their house for $300k, but that’s not really the way it works unfortunately.

    • “Nice unit? Sure. Good deal? Are you out of your mind?”
      .
      That’s exactly right. For the sake of comparison, I sold an upper unit, 1750 sq. feet, in Columbia Heights one year ago for almost exactly $500,000 less (and it had a lower condo fee). This is a little bigger, with new fixtures, and a nicer street, for sure. Is all that worth $500,000? No way.

      • Deal/Wilson access is part of it, but that’s not worth half a million.

        • not sure I’d like to live in a condo with middle/highschoolers if I could pay this much for more space for / separation from them.

  • what?!?!?!?! no! hate the reno and would def buy a house if i had that kinda $$$$

  • It’s a beautiful street in a great neighborhood. These condos are certainly on the upper range, but the upper unit has already sold above asking.

    • If that’s the case, PT Barnum was definitely onto something.

    • Pending ≠ sold.

    • They’ll sell, and they might even sell at (or above) asking price, but that doesn’t make them a “good deal.”

      • Actually, it does make them a “good deal” to the people who bought them. And finding someone who will pay at or above the listing price is all that matters if you are the developer. Not that asking whether the majority of PoPers think something is a “good deal” isn’t an entertaining exercise.

    • It also looks a lot nicer in person, trust me!

  • These greedy flippers doing condo conversions are getting ridiculous with their asking prices! A $470 monthly fee for what? I’ll take a house

    • Reserves and shared utilities. However, if that amount isn’t required, there isn’t anything stopping the 2 members of the condo association from lowering the monthly fee.

      • Serious question, how are these amounts set? I know the flip side of this as a friend bought a condo with an extremely low ‘listed’ condo fee of under $100 (most likely set to sell the unit) and ended up having to raise it to over $250 when he moved in to reflect reality.

        • I’m in a condo conversion (though not at this price level). Our condo docs had a list of all the common elements (roof, exterior painting, etc), their price, and the estimated useful life. Using those figures the monthly amount required to put in reserve for their replacement was calculated. The developer also put in estimates for things like snow removal, other maintenance, and any shared bills like water. Honestly, their estimate was too high since we do all our own maintenance, so consequently our reserves just built up quicker.

        • There is some kind of formula that exists based on square footage – so in a condo building larger unit will pay more in fees than a smaller unit – but it’s also based on the financial needs of the building. Add up reserves, insurance, property manager, pest control, trash pickup, snow removal, cleaning of the common areas, common area utilities (hallway/porch lights, etc), and probably a couple of other things I’m missing, divide by the number of units, and add that number to whatever the base fee based on square footage is.

          Condo fees can be frustrating but they DO actually pay for things that buildings need.

          • Forgot insurance; yeah our biggest annual expense is the condo master policy (the individual condo homeowners policies are lower than for an otherwise similarly priced SFH).

          • Setting condo fees is more of an art than a science and our condo board seems to discuss the “right number” at every meeting. If you lower the fee, you don’t pay as much but you also might not have the money on hand if you need to do a major project like replace the roof. If you raise the fee, then you build a higher reserve but also … pay more per month. And you might not still live in the condo when a major project gets done, so future owners would benefit from your payments and you wouldn’t. I don’t think there is a right answer. It’s just a question of what the tenants prefer to do.

    • Why are the flippers “greedy”? They’re listing the units for what they think the units will sell for. Maybe they should sell them for half price to make everyone happy

      • They use mostly cheap materials and often cut corners to save a few bucks.. Just ask anyone a few years after they purchase these units. I understand the name of the game is profit but I see very few ‘flipper’ renos done well and have several friends who are seeing the consequences of buying these units

      • I would much rather buy an owner-occupied renovated house

        • There is no guarantee that a given owner-occupier used quality materials to renovate a property, or had a good contractor do the work. Unless you are on site inspecting the work as it happens, you don’t know what’s going on behind shiny new floors and walls.

          • True, but I’d trust that someone living in a place would be more thoughtful (or correct what was wrong) before a flipper would be concerned.

          • west_egg

            What an insightful comment, Anonymous 4:50 pm! I bet nobody here has ever considered that before. You’re right, there’s absolutely no chance that someone with a vested interest would be more likely (not guaranteed, but more likely) to take greater care with a renovation than someone in it just to make money. No chance at all. Thank you for your valuable contribution to the discussion!

          • My owner-occupied renovated house has a lot of problems. The owner took care in picking out nice finishes for himself, but he must have not hired good contractors to do electrical and plumbing (or the owners before him didn’t). The problem with the owner getting the renovations done is that most owners don’t know enough to know when a job has been done properly.

      • Well, they tend to snap up much of the available inventory

        • Oops… continued:
          .
          They tend to snap up much of the available inventory and (IMO) set artificially high prices.
          .
          Yes, people seem to be willing to pay those prices — or close to them — but I really

      • HaileUnlikely

        I can’t tell you why they are so darn greedy. Maybe you should ask them 😉

      • Another premature post. Trying again:
        .
        Developers tend to snap up much of the available inventory and (IMO) set artificially high prices.
        .
        Yes, people seem to be willing to pay those prices — or close to them — but I really think D.C. needs some regulatory intervention to give would-be buyer-occupants a fighting chance. HaileUnlikely has mentioned the Fannie Mae HomePath program, which (IIRC) allows bids only from would-be owner-occupants during the first x days — it would be nice to see something like that in place.

        • HaileUnlikely

          Correct on HomePath. And I found myself bidding against multiple greedy developers who submitted fraudulent paperwork pretending that they would be owner-occupants. One owned 30 other properties in DC; another had bought another HomePath property the previous week, and both signed papers (in the latter case, for both properties) asserting that they would move into the place(s) within 30 days and live in it (them) as their primary residence for one year.

          • Ugh. Such sleazy behavior.

          • HaileUnlikely

            Fortunately, the good people at Fannie Mae did their homework and rejected their offers and I got the house. Less fortunately, a few months earlier and a few blocks away, another greedy developer bought a detached house for something in the ballpark of $200K (a little less than that, I think) performed a generic developer flip, put the house on the market about 4 months after having agreed to live in it for 12, promptly delisted it (I suspect somebody reminded him “PSSST! Remember that contract thing you signed? It says you can’t do that.”), and then promptly re-listed it one year to the day after they bought it, and sold it for about $700K. Sleazy piece of sh!t b@[email protected]

        • The HomePath program applies to foreclosures – homes owned by Fannie Mae (i.e., the government). I can (sort of) see a government interest in selling such homes to owner-occupiers, though one can also argue that they should be sold to the highest bidder (whoever that might be) so that the government doesn’t lose money on the deal.
          In any event, I don’t see any justification for putting that kind of limit on a private homeowner’s right to sell his or her property. And it would probably be held unconstitutional.

          • HaileUnlikely

            FWIW, Fannie Mae implemented the policy of only accepting offers from owner-occupants for the first [then 15, now 20] days that a property is on the market in 2009, in response to the massive foreclosure crisis, mainly to address issues that were bigger elsewhere in the country than here, like in neighborhoods where very large percentages of homes were foreclosed and investors were buying them up for peanuts and allowing them to sit vacant. The goal of the program was to get owners into houses, financially and physically, to help stabilize the neighborhoods as opposed to having a lot of blighted investor-owned properties sitting vacant.

        • Too bad you can’t do it with single-famly homes, but one effective regulatory device is a coop. Take the Saxony (at 1801 Clydesdale Pl NW, in Lanier Heights) – strict regulations that you cannot rent it out for more than two years at a time, and financing is relatively more difficult to come by because not many banks will lend on coop shares. As a result, units there go in the range of $300 to $400 per square foot, and not $600 to $700 per square foot as in similar condos in Adams Morgan/Columbia Heights/Mount Pleasant – no investors to drive up the prices. I”d submit this is the level prices would settle at if you could restrict the market to actual owner-occupants.

  • This listing…I don’t know what to make of it. First, I love how they use the total square footage of the property when listing one unit. Second, I can’t imagine why anyone would spend over a million on a rowhouse condo that they share with someone else (not to mention the adjacent properties). Third, you can get a Bosch dishwasher for $700…how is this special? I’ll stop here.

    • …and I don’t get the whole “Nest” phenom. For a couple hundred bucks this is your highlighted listing amenity?

    • why would people pay over a million dollars to buy a condo to share a building with 50 other owners? You’re NOT sharing your space- just the building- and most of the times they come with their own outside space whether its a roof deck or patio. why should it matter if its a conversion?

      • “why should it matter if its a conversion?” The main drawback I see is that if there are only one or two other owners in your condo association, you could run into stalemates. In a larger condo association, any difficult/crazy people would have their influence more diluted. (I’d imagine.)

      • Because living around people in a house is really loud. I lived in a huge condo building and never heard my neighbors. I visit friends in condo conversions like these in row homes and always hear their neighbors above/below them. Who wants to pay a million dollars to have to hear your neighbors walking around above you??

        • These can totally be made soundproof. It’s much more expensive, but easy enough.

          • For $1.2M it should ALREADY be soundproof!

          • Kind of a shame to have to tear up the existing ceilings to do it — seems like the kind of thing a savvy builder would do during the renovation process (and then account for it in the price, put it in the advertising, etc.).

          • Agreed with Anony.

          • Who is to say it isn’t soundproofed?

          • I’ve been there twice, once on a Saturday and once on a weeknight, and didn’t hear anything.

          • HaileUnlikely

            Hopefully it is indeed soundproofed, but I would not take “not hearing anything” as evidence of such, given that the other unit is not presently occupied (unless you actually saw others up there, e.g., prospective buyers, realtor, inspector, appraiser, whatever). Now if you did hear lots of sounds emanating from the unoccupied unit, that would definitely be cause for concern.

          • @Nathan, if they think a Bosch dishwasher is top-of-the-line, you’d think they’d also mention soundproofing.

        • To be fair, though… I think some residents of spiffy new condo or apartment buildings have complained that they too can hear their neighbors, because there’s just drywall between them.

    • For what it’s worth, the 2052 sq. ft listed is for a single unit. The houses on this street are pretty big, and without any additions are ~3600 sq. ft on all four levels. This house has an addition, so is even bigger.

  • If I had $1.25M to play with for a rowhome, why on earth would I get a condo with a 470 a month fee? I don’t get it at all.

  • Lol wut?

  • This price is for (1) a desperate buyer or (2) a buyer that will bid <10% less and tell themselves they got a deal. In reality, this developer targeted $1.6M for the sale of both units combined when they got their original financing and hatched their plan. Perhaps their costs rose during construction and perhaps the market is more favorable, but that is likely where this thing is headed.

  • I am reading that correctly that for one condo it’s going for 1.2 million dollars?

  • Believe it or not, the upper condo went under contract within 2 days of being listed.

    • I’m dead. Redfin is already showing this one is pending too!

      • HaileUnlikely

        What’s the saying? There’s a sucker born every minute? Or something like that?

        • Or its a tight real estate market and this is what’s available for someone looking for a place where they have to do no renovations. Sorry it isn’t for you, but implying that someone who is paying an in-line $/sq ft price for a very nicely renovated unit a sucker is pretty harsh.

          • HaileUnlikely

            Somebody who can afford a $1M+ home shouldn’t let their feelings be hurt by an anonymous person on an internet message board calling them a sucker for buying what the anonymous internet poster can only dream of being able to buy. Seriously, I wish I could afford this. It is much much nicer than my home, and if it actually sells for this, is “worth” about four times as much as my home. I would use my imaginary new-found income and/or wealth to buy something else, not this, but still…

  • My husband and I put an offer on this property. We’re new parents who wanted room to grow, and we want minimal maintenance so we can spend time with our baby! So we’re in the market for a large condo with parking. We’ve been looking in the neighborhood and others for over 6 months and the price seemed reasonable.

    • Oh honey, if that price was reasonable to you, you need to get a new realtor and/or look around a little more. (Or maybe stop looking because you’re perspective is getting skewed.) I live a couple blocks away and know of better homes recently on the market for less than one of these condos.

      • I’ve been doing Redfin searches independently of the realtor just to be sure. There aren’t a lot of condos on the market that are this big and we don’t want a rowhouse.

        • also we’ve been told there were other offers.

        • HaileUnlikely

          If you don’t want a rowhouse, that’s cool, no beef with your decision. However, I’m generally curious: what is it about having half of a rowhouse that appeals to you in a way that having a whole rowhouse does not?
          .
          I get why one would want to live in a detached house instead of rowhouse, or live in a big building with lots of units instead of a rowhouse. I don’t get why one would prefer to live in half of a rowhouse, though. I have always thought of rowhouses subdivided into two condo units as being for the segment of the market that wants to live in a rowhouse but can’t afford to buy a whole rowhouse. I am not saying that there aren’t valid reasons; however, the notion of this form of housing being preferred over a full rowhouse and preferred over a unit in a large building (when the buyer could afford a full rowhouse or a nice big condo unit in a larger building) is something I don’t think I’ve encountered before.

        • Why would you want a condo like this but not a rowhouse? Does not compute.
          This place is the worst of both worlds (rowhouse maintenance with a condo fee and someone else to meddle in your decisions).

          • It’s not that weird to us because my husband is Italian where it’s unusual to have your own house, and I grew up in a condo in NoVA. Ideally we would have wanted to be in a bigger building but those usually only have 1 and 2 bedroom units.

      • Homes, but she clearly wants a condo, and a large one at that. I actually just did a quick Redfin search to see what 3 bedroom/2 bathrooms were available between 800k-1.25mil and I was surprised there’s not a huge inventory!

    • Let’s be honest, if this was a renovated SFH for the same price, a lot of the commenters would still be railing against “greedy” house flippers.

    • Check out the new construction condos in Glover Park, I think on Fulton Street. Really nice and large open floorplans. The 2000 sq foot penthouse is selling for $1.2m. The smaller 2BR condos are still 1200 sq feet and $700K. I think they are a solid deal for families.

    • I’m late, but you should understand: when you buy into a situation like this, you are NOT getting minimal maintenance. You will have the same maintenance obligations as if you owned a rowhouse by yourself, but will have to agree with the owner of the other unit on how to handle those obligations. For example, you will still have to find someone to fix the roof and pay them, but now you and the other owner need to agree on which contractor to use, and how much to fix, and whether to fix now or wait until next year.

      When I bought a condo in a 4 unit converted rowhouse 15 years ago, I thought the same as you – it’d be easier than a single family home. Nope – it was much more of a headache. I’d want to be proactive and fix something, and the other owners preferred to wait until it actually failed. Or we’d have hour long discussions on whether to use contractor 1 or 2.

      Now my partner and I own a single family home in the suburbs, and it’s much easier. When I want to get something fixed, I just hire someone and pay them.

      I will never buy a condo in a rowhouse or a duplex again. If I ever do the condo life again, it will be in a large building (at least 20-30 units).

      • My husband and I had the same experience in a small condo building. Ours had 11 units, which isn’t even that small but it was small enough to have all the same problems you highlight. When we moved out we bought a rowhouse and love being in charge doing what we want to do. We considered keeping the condo and renting it because we could definitely make a profit, but we were just SO TIRED of dealing with the small condo building situation that we decided it just wasn’t worth the headache. We are grateful every single day that we moved out of that situation and will never do it again, unless it is a large building.

  • Wow what’s up with all the haters on this page? Personally I’m surprised that lower unit condos (i.e. terrace or basement level) are going for $1M+, but its happening ALL over the place in desirable DC locations. There is a house for everyone, and a lot of people in the $1.0M – $1.5M want this type of unit. These units both have over 2,000 sqft …… if this was Logan or U St we’re talking $1.5M + easy.

    • It’s not “haters” (well maybe some, but not me), but people who are genuinely concerned about the sky-rocketing price of DC real estate. It’s quickly becoming a place for the elite. I mean the person who put an offer on this house thinks 1.25 million is a reasonable price. Reasonable to her, but jeez that is not reasonable to most people in DC.

      • I totally understand. This is a stretch for us, and we are incredibly fortunate people with very good jobs. The options really are limited esp. for people with families.

  • I’m going to put this out there even though it’s like I’ll get proverbial rotten tomatoes thrown at me. Because I think it’s a sort of Real Estate 102 question that people almost never seem to discuss even though it’s a big part of the equation.
    .
    *This isn’t a starter home.*
    .
    Although there may be exceptions, it’s very likely that whoever buys this and similar properties can buy it because they have accrued a lot of equity over time through previous home ownership.
    .
    It’s kind of frightening and magical and awful how this works.
    .
    Lets say that when you were in your 20s, you’re lucky enough to have $50k through a combination of hard work, a family gift, etc., and get yourself a studio apartment in a nice but not prime neighborhood of DC for $250k. If you’re there for five years and sell for $325,000, you then get back the original $50k [-] closing costs [+] $75k in equity [+] any amount of principal you paid in those five years.
    .
    For the sake of discussion, lets say that puts you at around $100k for a new down payment. Maybe you marry someone who has a similar amount pulled out of their own home sale. That would be enough for a 20% down payment on a million dollar home.
    .
    This math is super general, and obviously varies a huge amount by the “inputs..” But what I’m trying to lay out is 1) within a decade, you can accrue a ton of equity in a property in cities like DC where prices are rising quickly and 2) that equity can translate to a much bigger down payment on a second home.
    .
    And if you imagine a market like DC that is just full of people in similar situations, competing for a relatively limited number of properties, this can escalate quickly and become a sort of vicious/virtuous circle, depending on whether you’ve been one to benefit from it.

    • Maybe, but how many people who bought property in the 20s a decade or longer ago are still here? A lot of them moved to other cities or the suburbs.

      • Maybe, but I think at least some of that is due to being priced out of DC. There is just a lot more inventory in safe areas with good schools outside of the district and the price/square foot tends to be lower..

  • As someone who spent 1.5 years recently trying to buy a row home in this neighborhood and succeeding only after multiple failed offers (which required losses on pre-offer inspections) I’ve come to realize that one of the reasons homes go for so much is because there are so few of them. And for those of us who don’t want to live in a large condo building, but in a place where the first (or immediately second) front door is your own, in a place with a neighborhood feel, there are very places like this. Inventory is low and competition is fierce. Unlike fancy tv’s there is not an unlimited supply of these homes in close proximity to downtown. People are building lots of condos, but no one is building anymore row homes in neighborhoods like this or similar ones throughout the city. That’s one of the key reasons properties like this are going for so much.

    Also, Caroline makes a good point, 3 bedroom condos are very rare finds. Most condos are one or two bedrooms, even in large condo buildings.

  • If you’re in the million dollar range – I looked at an open house on my street just yesterday – 1356 Irving St. NW – just listed for $899k. 4 bedroom & bath + basement apt. Totally liveable (and much of it quite nice) as is, but $80k in reno (replace carpet with wood floors, renovate apt.) would still be a better investment than this condo.

  • Everyone on here seems to forget that to purchase new construction with NEW, 2016 finishes, in a nice neighborhoods on a nice street with parking in of all of Washington DC is expensive and hard to find. I have been looking in DC for a long time and low 1 millions is a good deal for product that is brand new… Sure, you can buy product for under a million but I dont like living in a place that feels 35 years old, has radiator heat, a fridge from the 70’s and disgusting bathrooms. I work my ass off and want to come home to something nice at the end of the day where my friends want to come over on the weekend.

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