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First-Timer's Guide: How To Buy Your Own Place In D.C.

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    UPDATE: It's time to start working on your New Year's resolution, so why not look into your very own abode? This story was originally published on November 28.

    It’s no secret that D.C. is sorely lacking when it comes to reasonable housing options — this is a town where a Craigslist post for a tiny studio for under $1,600/month generates lines around the block, and where desperate renters are more than happy to turn a roomy (albeit windowless) closet into a second bedroom. Because really, what choice do we have?

    Turns out, you've got more options than you might think. Meet Kira Neal, a Smithsonian employee and longtime D.C. renter who bought her first place after getting sick of U-Hauling her stuff around the city. Weighing the pros and cons and doing the math made the commitment easy, even for a transplant with dreams of returning to California. Neal not only owns one of the coolest downtown digs we've ever seen, but she's also a pro at explaining how to invest the thousands you're paying in rent into a place of your own (and how to recoup that moolah when it’s time to move on).

    We took a tour of her inspiring, artsy pad, then sat down with her and local realtor Lindsay Dreyer (who owns CityChic Real Estate, where 80% of her clients are first-timers), and asked all our pressing questions. The result? A crash course on what it really takes to buy a place, and how to know if you’re ready — financially, emotionally, and otherwise. Call it the CliffsNotes on first-time home ownership. Click through to read, but beware: It'll make it that much harder to write that December rent check.

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