Washington, DC

Photo by Andrew Pasko-Reader

“Dear PoPville,

I’m really struggling to decide if I am in a position to buy a condo in DC right now and would greatly appreciate hearing the thoughts of your readers.

A little bit of context: I moved to DC straight out of grad school in 2008 and had been living in group houses (some great, some not so great) until 2018 when I paid off my student loans and with freeing up a bit of monthly income, I got myself my first ever apartment (tiny studio in Dupont). I work in the environmental nonprofit field and make a decent salary for the field, but it’s been hard to save since DC is so expensive. I’ve lived in Petworth, Shaw, Columbia Heights and now Dupont and would be interested in NE as well (H St or Capitol Hill) and since biking is my preferred transportation I would love something a short (2-3 miles) bike ride to my office in McPherson Square (when we re-open by the end of this year).

I am pre-approved

up to 400k for a mortgage although I think that would be a bit much to pay for a purchase price especially due to the HOA fees. As everyone knows, the real estate market is crazy right now, and I’m looking for a condo around 350-360k with less than 400/mo HOA. I’ve checked out quite a few 1bd/1bath condos in the past two months, but it appears everything located where I would want to live is either a basement unit or faces a brick wall. As someone with SAD and depression, I can’t live in a basement and I really need lots of natural light and an actual view of the street or trees or something.

Also, at these prices, I can only afford to put down 3-5% which requires me to purchase mortgage insurance. I will also be likely wiping out the majority of my savings between the downpayment and closing costs. My lease is up July 31, but I think I could go month to month, so it’s not necessarily a time pressure for me. But thinking about spending another 20k+ in rent this coming year is a little depressing. I’m also not sure if I am a competitive enough buyer as I’ve heard crazy stories about buyers asking 100k over list price in cash. I haven’t actually found anything that I would want to make an offer on yet.

Should I forget about buying with the market such as it is right now and focus on saving up in the next 12-18 months and maybe look then? I’m assuming interest rates might be a little higher then, but I do have excellent credit. Would love to hear any reader thoughts or suggestions.”


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