Good Deal or Not? “The best priced 2 bedroom Penthouse in NW DC!” Edition

by Prince Of Petworth November 29, 2010 at 1:00 pm 40 Comments

This condo conversion is located at 1322 Kenyon St, NW:

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The flier says:

“One of four all new 1500+ square foot townhouse style 2 bedroom, 2.5 bath condos! 2 blocks to metro & all of the shops! Stunning finishes, gleaming hardwood floors, huge rooms, top shelf gourmet kitchen, crown moldings, wonderful built-ins, fireplace, huge private roofdeck, deck, custom tile limestone baths and 3.5% down avail. . The best priced 2 bedroom Penthouse in NW DC!”

You can find more info here and photos here.

This property was actually a pre-renovation good deal or not? post back in Oct. ’09 (it was going for $875,000). This 2 bed/2.5 penthouse is going for $650,000 ($230.69 condo fee). Does that sound like a realistic price?

For the curious – Unit 1 is on the market for $499,900.

Here’s what the property looked like pre-reno and pre-pop up in Oct. ’09:

  • Why must every house be busted up into condos? That’s starting to irritate me.

    • erin


    • ET

      starting? That has annoyed me for 2+ years at least.

      I do understand the economics of it from the developers standpoint but it does seem sad.

    • Ward4Resident

      Simple – because developers get more money form dividing up a house into condos AND because buyers get a good deal in the form of a smaller place that they are better able to afford. Condos are also excellent from an environmental perspective because it allows the city to cram more people in, thereby limiting the number of folks who live in the suburbs and exurbs and are forced to commute into the city each day.

      Condos are, economically speaking, really good for first-time home buyers, provided such buyers adequately prepare for the realities of condo living. For example, if a roof goes on a house, you’re generally talking about a $20k-$40k fix. When a roof goes on a condo, that cost is spread among all the owners, meaning that the per-unit cost is greatly reduced to around $500-$2000/unit (depending on factors such as the size of the association and building).

      The one thing I would like to see more of is better condo education. Unfortunately, many people buy condos without really understanding what they’re buying.

  • Crouchy

    Because most people can’t afford million dollar homes. Most people can’t even afford the condos these places are being split up into. Two bedroom/two bath on an upper floor, 3.5% down — you’re looking at a $4,000 mortgage payment.

    That’s what irritates me.

    • JenDC


    • Chris

      After all that the real estate market in this country has been through you are advocating that people put a mere 3.5%? Risky ideas in which people purchase assets with little cash and lots of leverage are what got us into this crisis in the first place.

      • Crouchy

        Not at all. I was just reading what the ad said, “3.5% down avail.” Honestly I’m less interested in the risk factor and more interested in just what it takes these days to purchase something in an area I’d be happy to call home. So let’s play the conservative end: 20% down. You’re looking at a $130,000 down payment and mortgage payments of $3500. The values astonish me is all. And without more available housing coming to the market (houses being split into smaller units, or more apartment complexes coming online) I’m just afraid that I’ll never be able to afford something here.

        • Anonymous

          You have to shack up with someone who makes as much as you do. It’s the only way I could afford anything like this.

  • anon.

    So I see they added another floor.
    Let’s say the buyer got this property for about 800K or less (asking price was 875K. I know it it known how much it sold for but I haven’t gone that far to find out.)
    These flippers actually get their prices of 500K and 650K which would be 1,150,000, leaving 350K. It must have cost a good 200-250K to make the improvements leaving about 100K as profit.
    I am assuming there is not another unit in this project.

    • anon.

      To continue I now notice that there are 5 electric meters in the picture of the front. 5 Units!!!!
      Holy cow, this is a moneymaker.

      • propeller

        once i asked a similar question and learned right here in this forum that one meter is for the common spaces.

    • Dan

      There are now 4 units (5th meter is for common elements). The $499k unit is a basement unit. The $650k is the 3rd floor. There are 2 more units on floors 1 and 2 that are between those prices.

      There are also three parking spaces available in back, but one of those will set you back $30k-35k (forget which.)

      I went to this when it was an open house, and it was pretty nice. Each unit is 1500 sq ft, I think, so it is not a bad $ to ft. ratio, but still, that is a lot of money.

      You also get a sweet roof deck with the penthouse unit.

      • TGAA

        Don’t forget they are also putting 250 bucks a month in their pocket for condo fees that they probably don’t do much to earn.

  • My Reply

    The reason they split these up is to make more money and sell faster. plain and simple.

  • e

    I like the old color scheme better. Very drab brown/grey/beige.

    • HollyGoSmitely

      Agreed, e. I loved the old colors, too! But then, I’m a flamboyant Socialist…

  • DCster

    The inside looks alright, but there’s no backyard, and as Crouchy mentioned it’s hardly affordable, no matter how much you put down. No wonder so many local residents are paying extreme amounts of income towards housing.

    • Anonymous

      Or moving to Maryland!

  • RD

    lol “penthouse” = “you don’t get any of the bottom floors of the rowhouse”

  • steveg202

    I’m wondering out loud if posters to this board are Socialists.

    No judgement being made on the matter. Just a point to ponder for many of the real estate discussions on this board. Capitalism encourages supply and demand to dictate pricing as long as laws are not broken. In this example (and many others) no illegal or special subsidies or permits have been granted. No coercion. Yet many discuss the fairness of developer profit margins as though the someone should make this illegal. Or unethical.

    Case in point: When my neighbor’s property was purchased it was completely gutted, basement dug out and top floor added using a FT crew of about 6 for 5 months. The developer hires and pays people, which is good for everyone. Developer will get only what 5 local buyers are WILLING to pay. There is lots of fair competition available.

    So again, are we becoming Socialists? Do we want increased government market intervention? Price fixing, creating earning caps on private developers/companies, setting lending standards for private companies, etc? There are many Social Democracies out there that work just fine.

    • Anonymous

      I can’t speak for those who made the complaints, but I think the point being made was just that it’s sad that market demand is causing so many beautiful old houses to be broken up into condos.

      • This. Why can’t a house just stay a house sometimes? Sigh.

    • Marcus Aurelius

      Not sure that it’s true with respect to this discussion, but over the years there have been numerous posts on DC real estate in which people questioned the profits being sought on particular flips. I suspect that much of this was (and is) motivated more by depair at housing prices that are out of the critics’ reach than by a desire for some kind of communal, “socialist” housing market that would benefit others. And in any event, the socialist approach would not be to limit profits; it would be to raise taxes and use that revenue to subsidize housing for some category of the public.

    • propeller

      there is a whole wide world between full on supply/demand driven capitalism and government intervened socialism.
      you don’t need to be one or the other.

      relative to america’s “greatest generation” we’re hard core fuckem capitalists, so i’d say no, we are not becoming more socialist.

    • herb

      i just implore all arm-chair economists to remember this:

      it is mathematically proven that the free market will maximize society’s utility if and only if personal income is distributed perfectly evenly. they don’t teach you that one in intro to macro.

      is it “utility maximizing” to match supply and demand by making houses into condos. yes, i can’t argue with that.

      is it sad that one person gets a penthouse apartment, a bmw, a pool table, and organic vegetables while another works 60 hours a week and rents a basement apartment in deanwood? yes, i think it is.

  • Anonymous

    it looked much better before it went condo. What a lifeless lump of bricks…

  • grumpy

    I think it looks better after the reno – even the pop-up is non-ugly. As for the prices, I think they’re obscene but that’s probably b/c I don’t have anywhere near the money to contemplate buying this. Has anyone checked to see if there are comps and how much they sold for?

  • cookietime420

    Golly, what negative nellys. I really like this place.
    I live on the block. I liked the way it was before too. It was a rental and the tenants were nice folks but the house was worn out. The pop-up might be the nicest I’ve ever seen.

    Would I pay that kind of money for this place? Nope, but I don’t really have the means to pay for it. There’s no doubt that it’s a nice place and one of the nicest blocks in CH.

  • anon.

    Is it my imagination? Have they used the exact same photos for the interior for both units?

    • angrychicken

      They did, but the 3 above ground units look exactly the same.

  • DCDave05

    At those prices, you’d think the agent could post unit-specific pictures in the separate listings. For the two links provided, the agent used the same pictures for both the penthouse and basement units. And the living room picture is not even from the penthouse or basement, but the first floor unit. Perhaps they only staged one unit, but it is a little misleading.

  • Marcus Aurelius

    When will people learn? The best place to put a flat screen television is at eye level, not above a fireplace.

    • Richko

      Oh sure, but see how well your pet giraffe likes it.

  • TOK

    I own a unit on this block. Historically, and on a SF basis, the prices are pretty good. I’m surprised (and a little frightened) that none of the units have gone under contract yet. I understand that these are different times and that there are not as many buyers out there, but still, considering the location and the size of the units, didn’t think they’d all linger past a month or two.

  • While this place is very large, and very nice, and on a great street, I think this price is a bit high without parking included. I’d say 600-620ish is a bit more realistic if they are asking an extra 30k for parking.

    Kudos though for making one of the more attractive pop-ups I’ve seen. That isn’t bad at all, and FAR better than most.

  • anon.

    I don’t find it so nice, as many here are saying.
    Perhaps, there will come a time when someone of the house buying public realizes that they don’t want all of their public space to be in one single room.
    I’ll be damned if I am going to pay that kind of money to cook fish in my living room!

  • Anonymous

    Though it’s very large, I think it’s over priced.

    -nice large living area
    -nice sized bedrooms
    -nice sized kitchen

    -I cannot believe they cheaped out on the stove and fridge. As said best on Monday Night Countdown, “COME ON MAN!” At this price, I expect Bosch (insert similar brand) at the very least.
    -Kitchen lacks character.
    -Maybe it’s just a bad angle, but that looks like cheap ‘high-end’ Home Depot granite. Please someone correct me if I am wrong.
    -I cannot believe that the developer did not tile to the ceiling in the shower/bath area. Though it will cost significantly more than paint, it really does make it noticeable difference in appearance.

    In conclusion, at this price point with PARKING, I’d say around $585k-maybe $600k. It has been on the market for a month now AND it’s winter. Unfortunately, timing, bathrooms, and kitchens definitely would have gotten you that $650k. Nice job all around though, you did a great job providing large living spaces and bedrooms, parking (again), and a sweet roof deck. When writing a contract, I recommend that you ask the developer to tile up the rest of the baths, it will definitely be worth your while (and money).

    Just my two cents

  • Ward4Resident

    No, not really a good deal. Still way overpriced when you consider the neighborhood. This area is SKETCHY. Put this condo closer to 18th St and you’re talking, but over here it’s just another overpriced condo that likely won’t sell.

    The other issue is the condo fees – they are too low. Unfortunately, many developers in DC have discovered that low-balling the condo fees hooks buyers in. However, once the association is fully occupied, the Board is formed and it’s soon discovered that the “budget” the developer created is totally unrealistic and condos sky rocket. If anyone is actually considering buying this place, be sure to budget for a condo fee that is about 3X what is advertised at the time of sale.

    Personally, I’ve learned from experience that it’s way better to buy into an established condo association (one that is at least 7-8 years old). Such condo associations are generally operating under a realistic budget and have dealt with all the inevitable “developer issues.” They often have gone through the DCRA bond process (and collected the bond if such was warranted) and are hopefully on the path to fiscal responsibility. Buying into a new Association also generally means that there are no reserve funds in place so that if an emergency occurs (leaky roof or other urgent event) a special assessment is billed to the owners. In my experience, new owners are generally not prepared for this, leading to financial disasters for condo associations.

  • Petworthian

    The rent is TOO DAMNED HIGH!


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