Rent or buy? Running the numbers on a 16th Street NW condo

December 5, 2013

(Photo by Roman Caprano/Sky Blue Media)

In this market, it’s not always easy to tell whether it makes more sense to rent or buy. With the help of Zillow, a real estate information Web site, we decided to compare a property that is listed both to rent and to buy and see which is the better deal. In the case of this Northwest D.C. condo, the difference between owning and renting appears slight.


(Photo by Roman Caprano/Sky Blue Media) the main living area

The one-bedroom, one-bathroom unit is listed at $299,900, or you can rent it unfurnished for $1,750 a month or furnished for $1,850. Built in 1911, the building is well located within walking distance of Dupont Circle, Adams Morgan, U Street and Columbia Heights. The kitchen has been updated with new appliances, a tile backsplash and new light fixtures. The bathroom has marble tile. The listing agent is Matthew Shepard and Robert Johnston of Keller Williams Realty.


(Photo by Roman Caprano/Sky Blue Media) the kitchen

The Zillow data assumes that a buyer would have a credit score between 700 and 719, make a 20 percent down payment of $59,980 and take out a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage at Monday’s rate of 4.27 percent. Taxes, condo fees and home owners insurance (an estimate based on insurance premium data from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners) are included in the calculation, but not the tax benefits of buying (e.g., mortgage interest deductions).


(Photo by Roman Caprano/Sky Blue Media) the bedroom

This rudimentary calculation is meant to give potential buyers a snapshot of the costs involved with buying a home. It is not meant to be a comprehensive accounting. Anyone considering a home purchase should also take into account the tax benefits available as well as other factors such as how long they intend to live in the home.

Address: 2008 16th St. NW, Unit 301

Square feet: 450

Sale price: $299,900

Monthly principal and interest: $1,183

Monthly taxes: $102

Monthly homeowner’s insurance: $92

Monthly condo fee: $223

Estimated total monthly costs when buying: $1,600

Monthly rent: $1,750 unfurnished; $1,850 furnished

 

Kathy Orton is a reporter and Web editor for the Real Estate section. She covers the Washington metropolitan area housing market. Previously, she wrote for the Sports section. She came to The Washington Post in 1996 from the Los Angeles Daily News. She also worked at the Cincinnati Post. She is the author of the book, “Outside the Limelight: Basketball in the Ivy League.”
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