In a town known for transient careers and high real-estate prices, why buy?
Neal: “A mortgage is always a better option [than rent]. I was renting and started looking at numbers, and it became really clear to me that it would be cheaper to have a mortgage instead of rent in the neighborhood that I wanted. My dad works in commercial real estate, so [he] helped me cost it out. We sat down and crunched the numbers, factoring in everything — homeowners' insurance, fees, everything. It became pretty obvious that I was paying more for a mediocre apartment in Columbia Heights than [I would pay] for my own place on U Street.
One of the really attractive things about [when] I bought and the neighborhood I chose was that I recouped my down payment and then some. When I eventually sell, I will make back more than I put into it. In the two years I’ve lived here, the units have gone up $200,000 in price.”
Dreyer: “It’s an amazing time to buy right now — especially in D.C., because we have one of the best break-even points in the country, [which means] it takes 3.5 years to break even on your investment from when you buy to when you sell your property. In a nutshell, [it means] you haven’t lost a penny.
There are also great tax benefits: D.C has a $5,000 credit for qualifying first-time homebuyers, and mortgage interest and property taxes are tax-deductible! Interest rates are at an all-time low — being able to walk into an appreciating asset at a 3.5% interest rate is a fantastic investment.”
Neal sitting pretty in her sunny, melon-hued bedroom.