Saturday, April 28, 2007

Condo Sales: The Artisan [Update]

I'm working on an analysis for the Residences at Gallery Place, located at 777 7th St NW. As I reviewed my information, I noticed that a lot of condos from the Artisan are listed on MLS.

Of the 17 units I documented in my earlier posting about the Artisan, two (units #315 and #713) are no longer listed. Three units have been added (units #203, #309, and #904), bringing the current number of units listed in MLS to 18. Of the 18, five are listed by McWilliams|Ballard, the Artisan's marketing firm; those units are highlighted in yellow in the figure below.

I looked at the data to see what, if any, price reductions are taking place as time progresses and no buyers appear; the data analyzed were MLS listings for the weeks ending March 30 and April 27. The results are striking.

  • The "You've Got Nerve" award goes to the owner of unit #305, who raised his price by $14,900.
  • As you can see, some owners have taken aggressive pricing action to sell their units. Units #303, #316, and #411 have each had price reductions of at least $50,000.
  • Even if some units sell at current prices, transaction costs will surely result in a loss for the seller, e.g., unit #714.

I'll keep an eye on this to see what happens.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

NAR: Existing Home Sales Plunge in March

According to an article in today's NY Times:
Sales of previously owned homes suffered their biggest drop in nearly two decades last month, raising concerns that a rebound in the housing market is still far off.

The National Association of Realtors said today that sales of existing homes, which account for about 80 percent of all home sales, fell 8.4 percent in March. That was the steepest decline since 1989.

At the same time, prices also dropped. The median price of an existing single-family home decreased 0.9 percent last month, to $215,300, compared with the price in the month a year earlier.

Recall that March sales of existing homes in the District were flat, so I guess the District is doing relatively well by comparison.


Monday, April 23, 2007

Condo Sales: The Clara Barton

For its developer, I believe the Clara Barton's middle name must be 'serendipity.' Located at 616 E St NW, the Clara Barton was originally built to serve as the Jefferson at Penn Quarter apartment building. It was instead sold as condos beginning in late 2004 [see the profile here] just as the District's condo boom approached its peak.

It's a huge building, one of the largest completed in the past four years. According to the District's real property assessment database the Clara Barton has 255 units, although the District's real property sales database has recorded sales for only 253 units.

The Clara Barton 616 E St NW, DC, 20004

Sales through January 2007

The District recorded 276 sales transactions (including 23 flips/resales) through the end of January 2007.

Three units are currently advertised for rent on craigslist:

  • $2200: 1/1
  • $3500: 1/1, furnished corporate apartment
  • $2400: 1/1, furnished corporate apartment

Information on individual sales can be found at

Rental / Resale Activity

Since its opening, 23 units have been flipped or resold.

Update: Modified the table to show resale date and price per square foot. Average resale price per square foot was $524.82.

Three units, all of which were originally purchased no later than July 2005, are currently listed for sale in the MLS:

  • DC6297330: unit #215, a 1/1 for $499,000. Selling at that price would render a $139,100 profit before transaction costs.
  • DC6290182: unit #609, a 1/1 for $389,000. Selling at that price would be a $111,100 profit before transaction costs.
  • DC6235161: unit #1009, a 1/1 for $409,900, after a $15,000 price reduction. Selling at that price would represent a $10,000 loss before transaction costs.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Condo Party

Apologies for the late notice, but McWilliams|Ballard hosted a party today so party goers could meet representatives for 30 Virginia condos under construction or recently completed. And, I assume, lacking buyers.

Needless to say, this wouldn't have happened in 2005.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Condo Sales: Cooper Lewis

The Cooper Lewis, located at 1413 P St NW, began delivery in July 2006 [see project profile here]. Through January 2007, the District recorded 19 sales transactions; 4 units of the 20 that were built have either not sold or have not yet had their sales recorded.

As described by DC Lofts:

A combination of a historic building renovation and new construction resulted in 18 luxury 2-bedroom units that feature high ceilings, expanses of glass, terraces and patios. There are 13 different floor plans. Designed by RTKL Associates. Original prices started in the $600's.

The building, on the corner of P St NW and 14th St NW, is on the same block of P Street as Whole Foods, Logan Tavern, and, everybody's favorite watering hole, Halo. It's the third of four buildings built by Metropolis Development Company in the area, the others being the Metropole [under construction], Lofts 14, and Lofts 14 Two. I'm beginning to suspect Metropolis owns square 0209; once the Metropole is completed, Metropolis will have a building on all four corners of the block bounded by 14th and 15th Streets NW, P St. NW, and Church St. NW.

The Cooper Lewis was built by Mid City Development Co. II, a joint venture between Metropolis Development and US Property Development Corp.

The Cooper Lewis 1413 P St NW, DC, 20005

Sales through January 2007

The District recorded 19 sales transactions (including three flips) through the end of January 2007.

Unit #204, which is not included in the 19 sales recorded by the District, is listed for sale in the MLS at $849,000:

Information on individual sales can be found at

Rental / Resale Activity

Three units have been very profitably flipped by their drive-by "owners":

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Condo Sales: Lofts 14 Two [Update]

On Friday nights, my partner and I go to our favorite Logan Circle watering hole for a drink or two to relax after a week's hard work. Typically, we park the car in the 1400 block of Church St NW. Turning into that block from 14th St is like entering a canyon of condo buildings; down the entire block, both sides of the narrow street are lined with multi-story condo buildings. With the buildings and the cars parked on both sides of the street, it could cause a claustrophobic panic.

On that block you find Lofts 14, Lofts 14 Two, Rainbow Lofts, The Metro, and the back of the [under construction] The Metropole. Almost all were developed through renovation of existing buildings, such as the auto body shop converted into the Rainbow Lofts. While I appreciate the urban feel of the neighborhood, I can't believe any unit facing Church St ever gets any natural light.

Lofts 14 Two 1400 Church St NW, DC, 20005


Beginning in April 2006, the District recorded 44 sales at Lofts 14 Two through January 2007 (flips included); all units were sold.

Information on individual sales is available at


Seven units were flipped through January 2007:

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Condo Sales: The Ventana

Like the Artisan, the Ventana, located at 912 F St NW, is one of the latest buildings to begin delivery, with 49 sales recorded by the District in the period April 2006 - January 2007; 13 have either not sold or have not yet had their sales recorded. For reasons unbeknownst to me, most of the recorded sales occured in the period April - July 2006, with a few stragglers in the later months.

As described by DC Lofts:

Located in the Penn Quarter area, this 12-story building with 68 loft-style units was formerly known as Jemal's Lofts and F Street Lofts. Originally priced from the lower $400's. Pricing as of July 2005: 1 BRs from $600's, 2BRs from $900's, and 3 BR's from $1.5M.

I assume erred when it reported that 68 units were going to be built because only 62 units are listed in the District's real property assessment database, although it is possible the developer's plans changed in the intervening period. The building was developed by Douglas Development and Faison. According to Douglas Development's website, the Ventana's total project cost was $30M and the average sales price for the 62 condos is about $420 / sq ft. Marketing and sales are being managed by McWilliams/Ballard.

The Ventana 912 F St NW, DC, 20004

Sales through January 2007

The District recorded 49 sales through the end of January 2007.

Information on individual sales can be found at

Rental / Resale Activity

No condo flips have been recorded at the Ventana through January 2007. If speculators have bought condos at the Ventana, I'll have to say they don't seem to be as anxious as those at the Artisan to quickly dump their "investments" on the real estate market. Not to imply that nothing is happening; four units are listed on the MLS by their owners. The table below shows how hopeful the speculators are as they enter 2007's condo market.

An additional three units are listed through McWilliams/Ballard.

  • DC6359495: unit #205: 1/1/den
  • DC6310252: unit #207: 2/2.5. Its list price at the beginning of March was $950,000. This unit is also offered for rent (see below)
  • DC6360769: unit #702: $499,900, 1/1.5 [listed by McWilliams/Ballard]
  • DC6300474: unit #900: 1/1.5 [listed by McWilliams/Ballard]
  • DC6283281: unit #1100: 1/1.5. Its list price hasn't changed since January.
  • DC6300491: unit #1102: 1/1.5 [listed by McWilliams/Ballard]
  • DC6307636: unit #1107: 2/2.5. Its list price at the beginning of March was $789,000. This unit is also offered for rent (see below)

Two condos are being advertised as rental units on craigslist:

  • $4000: unit #207
  • $3800: unit #1107 ("..., a true modern marvels")

A third unit is being advertised as a furnished sublet on craigslist:

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

MRIS March Housing Report: Large homes lead the market

MRIS released data earlier this week reporting March 2007 sales of existing homes and condos in the District listed or sold by real estate agents. Dollar volume and average/median prices rose while transaction volume was flat and average days on market increased to 84 days.

In looking at MRIS' number, I tried to figure what drove the increase in dollar volume and average/median prices given the flat growth in transaction volume.

  • Measured in number of units sold, condo sales increased 10.61% while single family homes decreased 9.12% YoY.
  • If one measures sales by dollar volume, both grew YoY: condos by 10.79%; homes, 17.66%.
  • Average sales prices for condos were up a scant 0.17% YoY while rising 29.47% for single family homes

So, fewer single family homes sold, but for more money.

I think the driver in raising March's dollar volume and, consequently, the month's higher average price is the segment MRIS labels "4 bedrooms detach/attach" (I prefer using "high end homes"). Their dollar volume increased 37.42% compared to -8.4% for homes with two or fewer bedrooms and 1.29% for homes with three bedrooms.

While the high end homes represented only 17.45% of units sold, they represented 35.16% of the total dollar volume, or $129MM. Of the 114 high end homes sold, 28 - or about a quarter - sold for more than $1MM and a quarter of those sold for more than $2.5MM. The average price of high end homes increased 47%; +15% for detached homes, +72.26% (!) for attached homes.

Detailed Data

Average Sales Price

Dollar Volume

Transaction Volume

NY Times Rent / Buy Calculator

The NY Times has a great Rent versus Buy calculator online today. Check it out.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Next week's schedule

I'll be out of town for the next few days. Next week I plan to report on the following:
MRIS should release March's data by the 10th.
Speaking of the Ventana and The Artisan, according to this blog 72 condos are now for sale in Penn Quarter, 46 of them units with one bedroom. The same blog reports that four condos sold in the area in March and 12 went under contract, which means that PQ has 4.5 months worth of inventory available now.


Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Condo Sales: Brandywine Crossing

After writing so many posts recently about condo buildings that have recently come online, or "delivered", it's easy to become cynical about high-priced condos and the speculators who bought them in 2004/2005 hoping to make a quick buck by flipping them before the ink dried on the closing documents.

However, not all developers are targeting the market that can swing a $750K mortgage for a place with street parking. Development activity is underway, much of it in SE DC, to build affordable homes for people who otherwise would never be able to buy a place in the District. One such development is Brandywine Crossing.

Brandywine Crossing [now in Phase II] was developed by David Tolson's firm, DBT Development. As profiled in the Washington Post last fall:

Moments after she signed the papers to purchase a condominium in Southeast Washington, Denise Kuenzel thanked the man who rehabbed the brick building and made it possible for her to own her first home.

Then, after he left the room, she broke into tears.

A rehabilitated building at what is now called Brandywine Crossing, where Denise Kuenzel [...] was able to purchase her first home.

"I really appreciated that he made these affordable," said Kuenzel, 43, a secretary for the U.S. Postal Service. "It was just so profound. If he hadn't made these, I wouldn't have been able to buy."

The subject of her gratitude was developer David Tolson, who invested nearly $11 million to transform eight dilapidated and dangerous buildings in Washington Heights into Brandywine Crossing, affordable condominiums for working-class men, women and families. The units range from $149,900 to $269,000.

"There's a great demand for workforce housing," Tolson said. "It's for people like the guy picking up the trash or the single mom, places they can afford."

Brandywine Crossing 701-713 Brandywine St SE, DC, 20032

Sales through January 2007

Through January 2007, 42 units have been sold. According to the District's real property assessment database, 16 units have either not sold or had their sales recorded by the District.

Information on individual sales can be found at

Rental / Resale Activity

No condos purchased at Brandywine Crossing have been flipped.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Condo Sales: The Artisan

The Artisan, located at 915 E St NW, is one of the latest buildings to begin delivery, with 65 sales recorded by the District in the period November 2006 - January 2007; 95 have either not sold or have not had their sales recorded.

As described by DC Real Estate:

Originally sold out December 2004 in pre-construction sales, the Artisan Condos began occupancy in late 2006 and are now reselling units that never settled (i.e. the "final release"). Prices for the 160 condos originally started in the mid-$300k's, remaining units start in the high $300k's. Located 2 blocks from the MCI Center one block to Metro. The Artisan includes fitness center, e-lounge, 24-hour front desk, and underground parking, with advertising emphasis on luxury finishes. Developed by the JBG Group, marketed by McWilliams/Ballard.

The Artisan 915 E St NW, DC, 20004

Sales through January 2007

The Artisan may also be the frothiest condo building in DC in terms of speculators bailing out: five of the units closed through January are listed for sale on MLS, joined by another 12 that have not been recorded by the District yet, for a total of 17 listed for sale in the MLS. Craigslist has four advertised for sale, accompanied by eight advertised as rental units. For the mathematically inclined, that means that as of this date, 29 of 160 units - almost 20% - are in play.

Rental / Resale Activity

People who bought condos in the Artisan in late 2004, at the height of the boom, are now quickly doing whatever they can to salvage their financial well-being. Seventeen are listed on the MLS [see below]; the potential profit for those units already recorded by the District is noted, too.

Four units are advertised for sale on craigslist:

  • $384,900, one of several offered by McWilliams/Ballard, the Artisan's marketing firm
  • $429,000, unit #309, originally purchased for $381,400
  • $388,000, unit #201 [also offered for rent, see below]
  • $397,500, unit #311, originally purchased for $329,900. "Seller incentive: One year of paid condo fees!! "

An additional eight are now rental units:

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Condo Sales: The Q14 Residences

The Q14 Residences, located at 1401 Q St NW, have the unique distinction of having perhaps the most expensive condo in the United States, if the District's data were to be trusted. As I mentioned in an earlier post, the District recorded unit #603 as having been purchased for slightly more than $88M. Talk about blowing the comps!

Update: the actual sale price for unit #603 per the District's Recorder of Deeds was $881,403.10.

As described by the building's designer, Bonstra | Haresign:

The Q14, a 28-unit luxury condominium building located at the northwest corner of 14th & Q Streets, is soon to be a landmark along the reemerging 14th Street corridor. The building, with 5 units per floor on 7 levels, is served by 2 high-speed elevators. Two levels of below grade parking accessed from the rear alley, contains up to 37 parking spaces. A terraced courtyard at the ground level will provide a visual respite from urban life, with unit balconies visually linked to this “urban oasis”. A rooftop terrace serves the recreational needs of the residents, providing dramatic views of the surrounding cityscape.

The Q14 Residences 1401 Q St NW, DC, 20009

Sales through January 2007

Twenty units' sales have been recorded to date. The District's real property assessment database shows that 8 units have either not sold or not had their sales recorded yet. Unit #605 just went under contract and, according to the Q14 web site, units #201, #203, and #505 are still available.

Information about individual sales can be found at

Current Flips

No condos in the Q14 have been flipped to date, but that's not for want of trying. Two units are currently listed on MLS:

  • #402, 2/2.5. MLS ID: DC6319308. List price: $749,000. Initial purchase price: $617,500 (recorded on 11/22/2006)
  • #504, 1/2. MLS ID: DC6219991. List price: $788,000. Initial purchase price: $704,125 (recorded on 11/17/2006)

If successful, the speculators will generate a nice 21.3% and 11.9% return on their "investments", excluding time value of money, carrying and transaction costs, and other such trifles.