Dear PoP – What’s A Fair Price for this Rental in Bloomingdale?

by Prince Of Petworth November 22, 2010 at 2:30 pm 40 Comments

Art by PoPville flickr user hipchickindc

“Dear PoP,

I am planning to move out of my house and intend to rent it. I was wondering if you would ask your readers their opinion on what they think fair market rental value would be.

It is a 2 BR/2.5 BA house in Bloomingdale near Big Bear Cafe on First Street. It is 1200 sq. feet (two levels) and has all new wood floors, a renovated eat-in kitchen with stainless steel appliances and granite countertops, a separate bar area, 2-car driveway parking, w/d, and CAC. I have looked around Craigslist but am having difficulty getting a good sense of the market.”

I enjoy seeing what folks think are fair rates. I’m thinking somewhere in the ballpark of $2750. What do you guys think?

  • Anonymous

    With the parking, I would guess $2700. That is, of course, assuming it is on one of the “good” blocks. That area is touch and go– much like Shaw. The market rate may vary by $300+ from block to block in that area.

  • Devoe

    Agreed – 1st street is looking good nowadays – especially with the work wrapping up on the house at the NE corner of 1st and Randolph. $2700 is reasonable, but would be easier to get if you had a 3d bedroom. As it is you’re asking two people to each pay $1350 to share.

  • eb

    I think 2750 is incredibly high for a 2 BR house, unless it is in excellent shape AND closer to metro than Bloomingdale. Considering the renovation mentioned, and the parking, I would venture that closer t0 2200 would be more reasonable.

  • Anonymous

    I don’t know that area all that well, but that seems reasonable to me for starters. If you’re comfortable with that being your ceiling (i.e., the MOST rent you’ll get), you could just post it at that amount on Craigslist and see what kind of responses you get. If you get a lot, re-post at a higher amount. If you don’t get many inquiries or much interest from people who come to see it, you could then lower to 2600 or something. Sort of depends on your timeframe to rent, though.

    Really, it’s impossible to tell without pictures, exact location, and specific details (private yard?, pets allowed?, utilities included?, etc.), and ultimately you’re limited by what people will pay AND should consider the quality of the tenants that will pay that price (if this property is your biggest investment, I’d suggest foregoing some amount of rent for tenants that strike you as very reliable and responsible). Good luck.

  • Anonymous

    Ever notice how to realtors/landlords, everything west of 7th st NW, and east of the rail tracks is “near Big Bear Cafe”

    • The AMT

      I think you’ve got your cardinal directions reversed, but yes, I see your point. However, on First Street NW is probably near BBC (assuming it’s not fronting McMillan).

  • ShawRes

    I think its really pricey. I’ve seen a 3BR/2BA in Shaw (the Logan Circle edge of it) with CAC W/D etc. (no parking) for less than this. I think the same price for Bloomingdale is a bit of a stretch.

    Agree with eb, $2200 would be appropriate.

  • Anonymous

    hipchickindc is an artist too?

    • anon

      Yes she is — and she sold me the painting in the photo here! I love it. It hangs over my desk.

  • H

    I used to live on S street between 4th and 5th, and paid $2250 for a nicely renovated two bedroom rowhouse, and looking back, that was a bit pricey. 2750 might be too much, even with proximity to Big Bear and their farmer’s market.

  • Too high. I’m with everyone here saying 2200 (or lower). I know several 2 bedrooms that rent for less than 1700 in that exact area. They’re basements, but still 2brs.

  • Elle

    The actual fair-market rent for 20001 zip code (which includes Bloomingdale) is $950 for a two-bedroom rental unit.

    • Elle
      • Those numbers are clearly lies.

        In 20010 (mine and most of Columbia Height, etc), $750 studio, $840 one-bedroom, $960 two-bedroom, $1,230 three-bedroom, $1,610 four-bedroom?

        You have to be kidding me.

        • Not that YOU’RE lying! Just the site.

        • Elle

          Not kidding. I am using HUD’s definition, however, which is that FMR is equal to the 40th percentile rent for the area.

          Still, makes you question what you’re currently paying, doesn’t it? (And by you, I mean, generally, not you specifically, Jack.)

          • Elle

            “The FMR is the 40th percentile of gross rents for typical, non-substandard rental units occupied by recent movers in a local housing market.”

          • Eckington Neighbor

            Elle – thats not a reliable way to figure out how much a property will rent for.

          • Elle

            Oh, I realize that — I’m just trying to add some perspective to the discussion.

          • Elle

            Also, that would indicate that the top of the market for the area is around $2400-2500. So it’s not not useful to know these things.

  • mattallen

    I have a friend who just moved into a place in Bloomingdale that sounds virtually identical (minus the 1/2 bath) for $1700.

    This place shouldn’t be a dime more than $2200.

    As an aside, my god this city is getting expensive.

  • k

    my roommate i rent a 2 bedroom apartment (one floor of a rowhouse) with parking about a block from there for $1600. i adore my apartment and i’m really happy there, but i wouldn’t pay much more than that (granted, it’s half my income, but still).

  • anon

    I’m thinking the most you could get would be $2400, maybe $2500 if it’s a really nice place.

  • Not that YOU’RE lying! Just that site.

  • Tres

    Sounds okay. Really comes down to the size of the two bedrooms. If it’s two large bedrooms, there’s room to move the price up. $2950 feels right. The parking is worth $200+. Keep in mind it’s a landlord’s market, not a tenant’s so no need to be shy. Like someone above said, list at a certain price and then adjust it if needed. Let the market tell you what the price should be.

    $2200 is a joke. At that price you’ll find crack pipes in your closet left by the crack fairy or more likely previous residents — although it would be quite an honor if it were the crack fairly who did choose you for a visit. I mean, you could probably get $2200 for a luxury single-level above-ground 2-bedroom with the two spaces and utils thrown in.

    • Bloomingdale Renter

      I pay $1250 for a one bedroom place in bloomingdale. It has granite counter tops, SS appliances, central air, jacuzzi tub, and is well maintained by my landlord. It will be hard to rent for more than twice that because you will lose individuals who would rent as roommates to save money. The parking is also worth far less because it isn’t that hard to find good spots in Bloomingdale (I don’t have off street parking). The difference in rent probably won’t get you a better or worse tenant if you use a credit check and call the references (crackheads at $2200 a month? That is just stupid). If you can afford to wait to move then you should listen to Tres and test the market, but if you have a firm move date you should be flexible. If you let the place sit empty for a month you lose the potential rent (probably around $2400), but renting it for $100 less a month will only cost you $1200 over the course of a year lease.

  • 3rdStreetDesign

    I put my previous place in Columbia Heights (which sounds similar to your place) on for $2400 6 months ago and had almost 20 people fill out an application. If it is nicely renovated you can get that for it. I could have asked for more in retrospect, but ended up with a nice couple signing a 2 year lease so it’s all good.

    • Anonymous

      I posted above @ 2:49. Again, you’re the landlord here, so it’s on you to put a dollar figure when you post the place for rent. Comps are part of it, but you only need one tenant to bite at the price you’re asking.

      A few additional thoughts:

      (1) Consider the tax consequences of this for you. I’m no tax expert, but in a nutshell, your rental income is going to wind up a single line item on your income taxes after you offset the rental income w/ expenses, which will include mortgage interest, insurance, and a depreciation expense. It’s possible that you could show a tax loss on the rental business after all that, which could save you tax dollars. You could also show a net income on the rental, which income then will be taxed at your marginal rate. If you’re already in a high bracket, you’re probably going to lose a good amount of that marginal money to taxes.

      (2) Related to the tax thing, you could include utilities and even cable/internet in the rent. Because it’s dedcutible to you as an expense (but wouldn’t be to a tenant), you can effectively sell those services at a profit to you if you contractually obligate yourself to provide them. This provides you with a marketing tool. People who may have a firm rent ceiling of 2500 but are contemplating paying and add’l 300/mo for utilities would probably find it a deal to get a place with everything included at 2700. (BTW, think long and hard about this … it stinks when a tenant calls you bc the cable is out, but it does drive more interest at the front end.)

      (3) Your goal should be to find the highest price at which you can secure a tenant with whom you feel comfortable. What’s the market price? Whatever one good tenant will pay. If you list at 2200, as many suggest, and wind up with 20 applications, you’ve priced too low, but it’s really unlikely that any of those 20 people are going to go along if you come back and tell them you’ve decided you can charge 2500/mo instead. Depending on your urgency, better to start high and move down.

      (4) Everything’s negotiable. Lots of ways to get creative here, but you could advertise that rent is negotiable, you could offer a monthly discount if the rent is paid early (e.g., $50 off if you get the check before the first of the month), you could offer a lower rate for a longer-term lease, etc..

      (5) This is a lousy time of the year to be renting. You’ll get more interest and money if you can hold out until spring. Fewer people are looking to move during the holiday season.

      • Anon

        I would be hesitant to include utilities in a rental agreement. Nothing to prevent the tenant from pumping the A/C or heat when they arent home.

        • Anonymous

          Absolutely agree — this point is well-taken. My point was only that there is some ability to arbitrage it given the tax advantages. It’s a gamble and a pain, but it could be a marketing tool that might pay off.

        • MSF

          My previous landlord in an 8 person group house placed a cap on the dollar amount he would cover in utilities (600 including water, electricity, and internet but no cable). If we went over the cap, the excess was split 8 ways into our rent. We rarely went over the cap so he probably came out ahead, but good way to prevent tenants from going overboard. Just a thought.

      • MT

        Taxes will be minimal thanks to the depreciation tax shield…you can depreciate (expense) the cost basis of your property (the improvements) over 39 years, which in most cases is going to substantially shield your cash income from rent from tax liability.

  • Eckington Neighbor

    I think $2750 is probably way too high. I think $2000-$2400 is more reasonable. 2Br is very small, you have to figure someone could find a place for 1000/bedroom somewhere much closer to bars/restaurants and the metro. Parking is a huge plus, but probably gets this up from 1800/month to $2000.

    I have a 4br house/2.5ba, 3 floors (approx 2500 sq feet of finished living space), unfinished basement, 2 parking spots, no central A/C, less desirable location in many ways, but extremely comparable (within a few blocks). I would think my place would max out at $2300 in rent. If it were in the location of this property, I would think it would be no more than $2700.

    So $700 less for 2 fewer bedrooms and gaining central A/C and a nice kitchen (and presumably baths), I think is pretty fair.

    For $2000 bucks a month, you better have one hell of a house. I could get my $2300 pretty easily because it would only be 600-800/person – yours would be $1000/person.

    Something to think of us.

    • MSF

      You’d rent out a 4br, 2.5 bath with 2 spots for 2700?!! If I wasn’t already obligated, where do I sign up?

  • nikki

    I rent a 3 bed 3 bath with all of the same amenities on First St. between Randolph and S for 2500 a month.

  • eli

    I rent out a 3 bedroom/1000 sq ft apt in Eckington for $2100, and it absolutely would not rent for higher than that–I tried to get $2300 and no go. At this point renters are coming to the neighborhood for value. I don’t think someone will pay equal to U St or Logan Circle rents to live next to Big Bear, no matter how pretty your place is.

    I think your place maxes out around $2200. You can try for more, but don’t kid yourself. On the parking tip, offstreet parking is absolutely not worth $200/mo in Bloomingdale. Too much free parking still available.

  • JerseyGirl

    don’t care about rental market (sorry) as i own my place, but great graphic POP!

  • grumpy

    You might be able to get $2300 for it, but I think between $1900-$2200 is more realistic.

  • Tres

    I was going to add, there’s a currently comparable rental on the market, that looks like it’s a little East of your place (in Eckington?), for $3000. I’d simply contact the landlord of that place and ask what kind of response they’ve gotten. It pays to be chummy. And I really like what Anon 4:40 says.

    If you can get 5 people in the door closer to $2800 or $2900, you might find one person you feel good about — stable job, easy going, etc — then you can always woo them with a little price drop. Remember that your block may be worth more than other blocks: Bloomingdale proper is always a ton more than Eckington, and some streets are literally worth a couple hundred dollars over neighboring ones.

    Never be afraid to be bold. My neighbor asked for more money than I thought he should, and you know what? He got it. It has a lot to do with your personality and comfort zone.


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