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Good Deal or Not? “3 skylights” edition

by Prince Of Petworth July 16, 2012 at 1:00 pm 18 Comments

This condo is located at 3430 39TH St, NW:

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The listing says:

“Fabulous 3bedrm (large loft used as 3rd bedrm),/1 bath top floor unit in perfect park setting.Move-in ready,just painted,renovated kit w/ SS appl.,granite,custom cabinets &ceramic tile.Gorgeous renovated bath w/beautiful tile work, vanity w/granite counter & re-glazed tub. HWDFLRS main level. Lg light filled loft, new carpet 3 skylights. Pool,Tennis,Dog Park, Park, Pets allowed”

You can see more photos here.

This 3 bed/1 bath is going for $475,000 ($560 monthly condo fee.)

  • Wow, that’s expensive, especially after the condo fees. What the heck do they do on a monthly basis that costs $560?! I’d rather buy a row house with that money in a “seedier” part of town.

    • jcm

      It’s not for me, either, but for a family with school-age children, this place in in-boundary for Eaton/Deal/Wilson, which could save you a ton of money on private school tuition.

  • For a 3 br I think the price is decent. I am curious about what the condo fee covers though…

  • I think you lost me at the “1 bath” in a three-bedroom condo. Really? Also, the main living areas look pretty small for a place that claims three bedrooms. Does everyone have to hang out in their room the whole time?

  • CornholioDC

    Condo fee gives access to the pool, grounds and building maintenance, etc. This is in McLean Gardens (I used to rent there).

    The units are nice, but not worth that much to be in that location. Their condo bylaws regarding padding under your rugs and such are very restrictive and burdensome.

    “Look at these lovely hardwoods! Now cover them up with no less than one inch of padding and a rug across 80% of the unit.”

    • CornholioDC

      More on Mclean – they are garden style walk ups. You also have access to public grills and other perks.

      My dog loved it there, I did not.

    • Denizen of Tenallytown

      So, this is where I kind of scratch my head. You have a 2bd/1ba condo with a high ceiling and loft space, about 1300 square feet, going for less than 500k. You’ve already got a corner bar, decent restaurants, Metro access (15 min walk) and bus access. The new Cathedral Commons complex is slated for construction two blocks away. Low crime, next to a park that extends to Canal Rd. All for less than $500k. Granted the condo fee is there but covers a pool fee, grounds care, etc.

      Now what if this was for sale in Shaw. Would the same opinion of this place being overpriced and not worth it still apply?

      • Anonymous

        I rent in this area, and the condo market is a little goofy.

        You have a lot of older buildings with below market list prices (200s, 300s) but astronomical condo fees that convey virtually nothing. Honestly I would love to buy in this area if there were some type of happy medium between list price and fees (and mclean gardens is probably the closest community to that), I would buy my current place but I just worry about resale with a $600+ condo fee that covers basically just a front desk person and elevators

        • Anonymous

          Where do you think the condo fee goes?

          You do realize that condos are self-governing organizations that decide how much to ‘tax’ themselves through condo fees to pay for amenities and maintenance, right? Condo fees are not imposed on people by evil real estate agents.

          In this case, the condo fees probably pay for the elaborate grounds and parks that surround this place, the pool, the tennis courts, and maintenance on decades-old apartment buildings.

          • Aren’t condo fees usually set by management companies appointed by condo boards?

            I see your overall point, but it seems to me that condo owners don’t have as direct a role (or as much of a say) in determining their condo fees as you’ve portrayed them having. Sure, if they don’t like the fees, they can switch to a different management company… but that wouldn’t be a simple process.

      • Anonymous

        “Now what if this was for sale in Shaw. Would the same opinion of this place being overpriced and not worth it still apply?”

        Depends on what the buyer is looking for. Shaw is a better investment and has better access to public transit and nightlife. But there are plenty of people looking for a suburban-style neighborhood with good public schools who would go for something like this.

  • But with 40 (example) units for sale at $560/month, that’s $22,400 total collected in condo fees (per month). That means $268,800 a year… If they pay 4 doormen $30k annually, there’s still $148,800 for maintenance of the grounds you speak of… Sounds Fishy To Me:

    FROM: http://www.mcleangardens.com/

    The 23-acre, wooded community has more than 1,000 residents living in 31 unique, garden apartment-style buildings built in the early 1940s and converted to condominiums in 1980 to include duplexes, flats, and lofts.

    That’s a lot of landscaping.

    • They are very likely depositing a lot of money to reserves to pay for the wildly expensive roof repairs, and plumbing repairs etc etc.

    • maire

      Condo fees generally pay for: trash removal, landscaping, elevator/fire extinguisher maintenance (this can be expensive), paying any staff such as doormen or facility cleaning people, paying the management company, paying into the reserve account monthly, paying the management company to manage your finances, bills for any repair/maintenance work for the building common areas (which usually includes roof/wall maintenance and repair, painting, etc), snow removal in the winter, and the master insurance policy.

      Pretty much every building has those expenses. Add a pool, special landscaping and the fact that a complex like MacLean Gardens should have at least 200-250k in cash reserves and yeah… condo fees add up.

      • maire

        I said management company twice, oops. And I also forgot pest control. Condo buildings are expensive to run but it’s worse to have fees too low and have to assess owners for repairs and maintenance than to have a healthy account, healthy operating budget. That way when you have to replace two water heaters to the tune of 40k (like we did last year) you can do it without anguish.

        • maire

          They can also pay for water, gas, and electricity. Or none of the above. Mine pay for water and gas, electricity is individually billed. In my SO’s building, fees pay for water, gas, and electricity.

          And finally, condo fees follow a formula based on unit square-footage. Larger units have larger fees.

          This has been a PSA by maire, who isn’t really an expert in any of this, just a condo owner who made sure to research why she would be paying fees and whether it was worth it.

          • Margaret

            I think the condo fees are reasonable. The layout of the apartment is a little awkward, but as many stated, it’s in a great school district and perfect if you have a dog…all things that are very important to many people.

  • m

    As a soon-to-be parent, this actually looks really potentially awesome. In boundaries for a really good elementary school and the “only” middle school, 15 minute walk to Cleveland Park metro/shops/etc, all those parks, pool, playgrounds? And probably easy parking?

    Definitely not the place for a 20-something, but has a lot of really great points.


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