Wednesday, March 07, 2007

2006 Condo Sales: Columbia Residences

The Columbia Residences has the dubious honor of being the poster child of the condo market's collapse. As reported in an article in the NY Times:

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

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

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,, for the kind mention this morning.


Anonymous said...


I have never been so inclined to post a "blog" comment before, however I am a real estate developer, and a professional witness in the construction field.

My comment would be THANK YOU!!! for several reasons.. mostly for the information you have put together in one location! I appreciate the countless hours you are going to be saving me in the research department.

I would like to be a continuous subscriber to your data, I m hopeful you have had a sucsessful response to your blog and will continue it.

Do you have plans to branch into other parts of the district? Just curious.

I am very impressed with your data. I trust it is accurate? I am wondering will you provide the final quarter of this year....? when? And would I have to buy another $55 report to get the last quarters info?

I am currently putting my package together for financing, on our latest conversion of condo units in Columbia Heights. Two current row houses into 5 units. Between 11th NW and 13th NW. True actual comps are the most difficult part of my report to get for the investors.

So in closing thanks so much, and your work is very good. Much luck and success in your advocation!

Deborah Magano, asid, aga, idwf
DMI Development Group

Keith said...


Thanks for the kind words, I'm pleased you find the blog helpful in your efforts.

The District's real estate sales database is my data source. I spend a lot of time cleaning it because there are frequent errors: $88MM condos, missing unit numbers, misspelled street names, missing street addresses, missing quadrants, and the like. When in doubt, I omit, but that's usually a very small percentage, less than 1%.

I compile each month's data when it's available from the District, which is usually up to 45 days after the month's end. For example, I'm working on September's data; October's hasn't been completely loaded by the District.

If by "last quarters" you mean 3Q07, I expect to have that into my database once I finish September's data, probably within the next few days. The listing I sell should be available shortly after that.