And while there are tentative signs that the worst of the overall housing slump may be easing as builders cut back and interest rates remain relatively modest, condo markets continue to suffer.
Take the owner trying to sell a spacious two-bedroom condo for $879,000 in the former Columbia Hospital for Women, which closed in 2002, in the Foggy Bottom neighborhood of Washington. In 2004, the investor was so confident that he would make a handsome resale profit that he told his agent, Thomas P. Murphy, he wanted to buy five condos. Mr. Murphy said he flatly told his client he would only assist him in purchasing one unit in any one building.
''He needs $890,000 to break even, but the offers are at $800,000 to $840,000,'' Mr. Murphy said. ''He does remember that I told him he was not getting five of them.''
Could he rent the condo? Yes, but that option is not appealing, either. Mr. Murphy estimates that the unit could rent for $4,000 a month, far short of the $6,800 a month the condo costs in mortgage interest, maintenance fees, insurance and taxes.
''They have a choice of how they want to lose it,'' Mr. Murphy said of investors and condo developers. ''Drip by drip or in one slap.''
As described by DCLofts.com:
This 225-unit project includes the renovation of the Columbia Hospital for Women built in 1918 plus two new buildings that include entertainment facilities, swimming pool, and fitness center. There's also 28,000 square feet of ground floor retail space.
According the District's real property assessment database, 50 of the 225 units have not been sold. The District recorded 157 sales at the complex in 2006. Of those, three involved flips. In 2007, an additional 21 sales have been recorded, including two more flips.
Columbia Residences 2425 L Street NW, DC, 20037
Sales at Columbia Residences recorded by the District in 2006:
Information about sales of individual condos can be found at DCCondoPrices.com.
Condos flipped in 2006:
Unlike other buildings reported here, the flips at Columbia Residences appear to have been pretty lucrative for the initial buyer, especially for the first owner of unit 551 [see above]. The trend appears to continue in 2007, with unit #708 selling for a $81,600 profit [110 days between sales] and #204 for a $80,700 profit [152 days between sales].
PS: Thanks, DCBlogs.com, for the kind mention this morning.