Do I Look Like A DC Homeowner To You?

Late last night I got the call. My bid on a home in Petworth was accepted and I am now on the fast track to homesteading.

And a $450,000 mortgage.

This morning both those realities hit me and you can see the result: crazy fear. Fear of many things, rational, irrational, even imaginary, but rarely financial.

Let me serve as an example of affordable housing in Washington DC. My three bedroom + finished basement house will be just under $3,000 a month with very traditional and conservative financing.

Thats $800 a person as a group house, or as we will do, $1,100 for my girlfriend and I, and $800 for the basement. Quite affordable by DC housing standards.

So to those who moan about the lack of “affordable housing”, I call bullshit. Housing is affordable. Mortgages are pricing out at rent levels.

If you read this and are thinking, “Nice, Wayan, but I really can not afford my dream home,” maybe its called “dream home” and not “reality home” for a reason.

20 Comments so far

  1. Max (unregistered) on March 23rd, 2007 @ 7:30 am

    Congrats on being a homeowner! Where’s Petworth?

    In my opinion, I wouldn’t call sharing a mortgange payment with your girlfriend and renting out your basement “affordable”. It would be affordable if you could afford the house on your own.

  2. Wayan (unregistered) on March 23rd, 2007 @ 7:44 am


    Affording a house all on your own is called “dream house” because that was a dream of the 1960’s or rural areas. Hasn’t been that way in DC for a loooong time.

    Still, if you want your own place, 1-2 bedroom apartments around town, or in Petworth, are pricing out at $250K, or around $1,800 a month, which is affordable. You are probably paying that much for your place in Dupont.

    If you wanna see how pricing is in Petworth, check Petworth News.

  3. Max (unregistered) on March 23rd, 2007 @ 7:54 am

    Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy for you. I’m just disagreeing with your definition of affordable. I own my place “all on my own” but it’s definitely not my “dream house”. I can’t afford my dream house.

    I know the housing market (especially the condo market) has seen prices come way down so that housing is becoming more affordable. But for those single people in town who make $30-40K/year following their political dreams, buying a place for $250K probably isn’t going to happen.

  4. Wayan (unregistered) on March 23rd, 2007 @ 8:06 am

    And that’s why your house is called a “dream house” – because its beyond your means. I’d love to live in a 4 floor MT Pleasant house, but at 700K they not affordable with my financial + privacy profile.

    But I wouldn’t say that means there is a lack of “affordable housing” only that I can’t afford my wants. You, I and even those underpaid Hill staffers can afford needs. At $40K and single, the need is for a roof over their head, the want is a house.

    Together, making $80K total a couple could afford an apartment purchase. Again, maybe not the “dream house” but they can still buy. There is housing stock they can afford.

    And that’s the definition of “affordable housing.”

  5. Brock (unregistered) on March 23rd, 2007 @ 8:39 am

    Say, how soon will you be looking for a renter? I’ll be looking for a new place in a couple months.

  6. Tom Bridge (unregistered) on March 23rd, 2007 @ 8:49 am


    First off: Congrats man! That’s awesome!

    Second: I really know that I couldn’t afford 3k a month on a house, seriously. So when do we see pictures of this place?

  7. Mik (unregistered) on March 23rd, 2007 @ 8:59 am

    Congrats Wayan – when do we get to see the lucky supermodel at HH (if I *cough*ever turn up*cough)?

  8. Wayan (unregistered) on March 23rd, 2007 @ 9:43 am


    *I* can’t afford $3K a month on a house either. CSH and I can, but it would be uncomfortable. Not tight, but happy hours would be rare. With a renter, its very do-able.

    There are cheaper homes – smaller and less desirable – but we feel this one is right for us.

  9. MBFan#2 (unregistered) on March 23rd, 2007 @ 10:00 am

    Congrats on the purchase! Sounds like a great plan – you are right. The only way to owning your place is having other people help you pay for it. You are a pretty thrifty guy so this investment will be a nice payoff in the long run AND you will have a dream home to boot. Good on ya!

  10. Wayan (unregistered) on March 23rd, 2007 @ 10:20 am

    Thanks MBfan#2.

    The goal is to have a renter for a few years to get our equity built up and pay for improvements, then it will most likely become Mom’s apartment. Gotta look after our elders, ya know.

  11. Garick (unregistered) on March 23rd, 2007 @ 10:23 am

    Congrats on the home purchase Wayan !
    I have to agree with Max. I think you found a great working alternative to the housing crunch, and in a sense made your own affordable housing. But “knock on wood” say something should happen between you and your girlfriend and she was to move out, your affordable housing just walked out the door. You created a work around solution with out really solving the problem.

    IMO affordable housing is more closely defined as acceptable housing (i.e. not 100 miles from work or in a crack house) that you can afford on your own. If you are married or in a committed relationship, enough so that you are both willing to put your name down on the dotted line, you can afford more. But speaking from personal experience, I wouldn’t use the ability to have a girlfriend/friend share a mortgage with a hand shake as a solution to being able to pay long term loan commitment.

  12. Paul (unregistered) on March 23rd, 2007 @ 10:37 am

    Wayan…what block is that on? I live i Petworth and that house doesn’t look familiar. CONGRATS, it looks awesome!

  13. Wayan (unregistered) on March 23rd, 2007 @ 10:37 am


    You missed the back-up plan, “thats $800 a person as a group house,” which is my fall back plan. I don’t like living alone and would have a housemate even if I could afford a domicile on my own. I would keep it a group house until I found another, and then go back to dual income living.

    “Acceptable” housing is where I take exception as its relative. What might be acceptable to one isn’t to another & that’s the beauty of free markets – you are free to determine what is acceptable to you.

    So you *can* buy a house. You just may not be able to buy the house you find acceptable (“want”). And that’s my point.

  14. nate (unregistered) on March 23rd, 2007 @ 11:09 am

    Congratulations! You are my neighbor now. I live in the 4900 block of 4th st, which is right around the corner from you. You will find Petworth to be a lot safer than you think. I have lived here 5 years and never ever had a problem! Plus, the neighbors are so damn nosy you won’t have any problems.

  15. MBFan#2 (unregistered) on March 23rd, 2007 @ 11:27 am

    Now that you will be house-poor, does this mean your friends will have to buy you a beer at nearby Temperance Hall?

    And aren’t you a good son to look out for Mom? In the basement though?

  16. Don (unregistered) on March 23rd, 2007 @ 12:03 pm

    There’s more Petworth discussion at, apparently. A link I found while perusing this hand-wringing white-liberal-guilt question over at Ask Metafilter.

  17. Wayan (unregistered) on March 23rd, 2007 @ 12:45 pm

    While I find Petworth News way more interesting than, I’ll not shed a tear about “gentrification” when my home’s previous owner is walking away with half million dollars.

    She’s laughing all the way to swank retirement with bags o’ cash.

  18. Dan (unregistered) on March 23rd, 2007 @ 4:04 pm

    Prince of Petworth blog also has an interesting conversation going on.

  19. Wayan (unregistered) on March 23rd, 2007 @ 4:25 pm

    Prince of Petworh would be talking about this post where he discusses my housing post on Belly Button Window.

    My favorite comment:

    “Affordable housing doesn’t mean that you get to buy a 400K home. There are still condos in the 200K range. According to mortgage calculators even people earning 65K can afford that.”

  20. Don (unregistered) on March 24th, 2007 @ 7:06 pm

    Love it. “Even” 65k, those paupers!

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