Still hunting for a coffee table, still trying to get motivated to buy paint and other supplies for the Great Kitchen Cabinet Painting of 2010 (or maybe 2011 by the time I actually get around to it!)
I’m exceedingly strange, but in my free time I like to browse for-sale listings for condos. Not because I’m buying any time soon (yeah, there’s that whole I don’t have any money saved up for a down payment thing), but mostly because I’m curious. And increasingly annoyed.
See, I totally get that the vast majority of real estate in DC (because there’s no way in hell I’d buy in the ‘burbs–I’ve done my suburbs time, and I’m never going back, thanks) is insanely expensive and totally out of reach for a humble non-profit employee who doesn’t have a well-employed spouse or a rich family. So I feel like I’m realistic in my expectations–I know there’s no way I’ll ever be able to buy in my current neighborhood (the few condos in Mount Pleasant pretty much start at $300K for a one bedroom)–I’m only looking at one bedrooms (I wouldn’t know what to do with a second bedroom anyways! I already have too much space in my current approx. 700 sq. ft. one bedroom!), I’m looking in generally “less desirable” neighborhoods that are near-ish to a metro station (Hill East and Fort Totten, what what?), and I’m looking at older buildings.
But those last two criteria are actually becoming a problem. Because, as you can tell by looking at pictures of my current apartment (which I love with a slightly deranged passion), I like old, decidedly lived-in places. I want the beat-up 100 year old floors, doors that don’t shut correctly because they’re original and the building has settled, old transoms that may have been painted over at some point, awesome molding that has innumerable layers of paint on it, clunking old radiators… But finding those things in these less-desirable, up and coming neighborhoods is tough. Because most of the condo buildings in these areas? Recent conversions that have been totally renovated in the past 5 years or so. And not renovated well. I’m talking new laminate “wood” floors that scratch when you look cross-eyed at them (I had that stuff in the condo I rented during my year out in the ‘burbs, and OH MY GOD THAT STUFF SCRATCHED LIKE NOBODY’S FREAKING BUSINESS!), brand-new doors everywhere, little if any molding around windows, boring “modern” kitchens, etc, etc. AUGH! All of these condos look exactly the same! They look exactly like the condos in new buildings! All of the character has been renovated out of them!
What I would really love to see is a condo in a older building, that hasn’t been renovated. Something that needs updating, but also still has all the original character and quirks. Those apparently don’t exist in the neighborhoods I will be able to afford, though, because there aren’t many buildings in those areas that have been condos for a long time. They didn’t become appealing for condo conversions until the past 10 years or so, so everything that’s a condo is new. And I HATE new.
I’ve seen some places that have the desired character, but they’re all in well-established, expensive neighborhoods. So even an out-dated condo that needs a lot of work is out of my price range. (An amazing example of a well-renovated–but also well out of my price range–condo building? The Embassy, right on the border between Mt. Pleasant and Adams Morgan. I actually lived in the building a couple of years ago, back when they were renting the units until the market improved. And it was amazing. Nicely renovated–new kitchen, mostly new bathroom–but they left the original inlaid wood floors and wall molding! And the lobby was quite possibly the most gorgeous thing I’ve ever seen. *happy sigh* Now why can’t more buildings do that???)
But also, there’s no reason for me to be bitching about this right now. It’ll probably be forever before I have the money to buy, so the market may be different by then (though not likely–the DC housing market has one direction: UP), so there really isn’t any reason to be complaining about this now. But still! Some of us who don’t have much money like old things too!