Home buying in the District is not easy given the rising home prices, but it is also not impossible. In my last post, I talked about what was important to my boyfriend and me as we started the home buying process.
After four months of searching and putting an offer on three houses, we finally closed on a single family attached (duplex) in Manor Park, located in Northwest DC. Fortunately, we got most of what we wanted.
Did we get what we want?
Here's the breakdown of what we got with the new house:
- Affordability: The home was within our budget. We crunched the numbers and determined that we could pay the mortgage on the home and the condo with one person’s salary.
- Location: As a co-owner of a DC Certified Business Enterprise, staying in the District was important to maintaining our status as a District-owned business, which means the business owners are residents of the DC. The baseline criteria for the CBE is being District-based business, but we get additional points for being District-owned as well.
We have a slightly longer commute to work than from our apartment in Navy Yard. Our previous commute was each 25 minutes and now I have a 35-minute, one-seat ride on the 63 Metrobus. My boyfriend’s commute is 45 minutes via walking and Metrorail.
- Low maintenance green space: We have two small green patches in the front, a small side yard/walkway, and a small rear yard. Since the house sat vacant for two years, the weeds were taller than me. It took us two weekends, a machete, a chainsaw, and weed killer to remove all of the weeds. We mulched the front yard and decided to use the rear for parking. Needless to say, we won’t have to cut grass.
- Schools: Our boundary schools are Whittier Education Campus and Coolidge High School. The Whittier Education Campus had a boost in test scores this past school year and Coolidge is in the middle of a renovation. There are also plenty of good charter schools within walking distance.
- Walkability: We are within walking distance to recreation centers, the public library, mom and pop restaurants, and grocery stores. Admittedly, we did buy a used car after being carfree for over five years to accommodate the many trips to the hardware store required to fix up the house.
- Size: Our home has three bedrooms, two full bathrooms, and a finished basement. It’s a perfect size for us now and also as we grow our family. The main floor is semi-open, which is great for entertaining.
We did have to make some tradeoffs
To get everything we wanted, including affordability, we compromised on the condition of the home. First, we viewed a few “flipped” homes that were move-in ready. However, I had concerns about the quality of the renovations after the experience of my friends and WAMU’s reporting a few years ago about how developers sometimes cut corners to quickly flip homes.
The house we purchased was a rental property for a decade, then sat vacant for over two years. It took us about a month to get the house in move in ready condition, including upgrading the electrical and plumbing systems, deep cleaning, and putting on a new roof.
Over the next year we will completely gut and rebuild the kitchen and basement. During the basement reconstruction, we will remove all the remaining galvanized steel pipes in the house. The downside is having to live in the house during construction. However, we will have the peace of mind knowing everything was built to our specifications and standards.
As I embark on this new homeowner journey, I'll keep you updated about how this decision pans out. For now, I'm delighted we have a place to call our own.
A version of this post originally appeared on nspiregreen. You can read the first post in this series here: I’m buying a home for the next phase of my life. Here’s what’s on my mind.