I recall standing in a "totally renovated" condominium project across from Brandywine Crossing (at the time the standard for "high-end" living on the block). The building exterior was lovely, the paint was fresh, and the landscaping lush. It didn't look too shabby -- at first -- and the price was a steal. It wasn't until I went inside and noticed that the floors were so uneven I was able to roll a quarter from one end of the unit to the other! When I brought the floor issue to the attention of the sales agent he told me flat-out and with no shame that the developer had to, "Cut a few corners to keep things affordable." Needless to say I did not purchase there, but I am sure someone else did. Most likely an excited and eager first-time homebuyer, and I have a feeling those floors didn't just even themselves out.
Over the past 12 - 18 months tales of mold, shoddy construction, and questionable property management practices have started to emerge in the Ward 8 condominium market. Add to that the worst economic downturn in decades and you have a recipe for disaster. First-time homeowners who were once so excited and proud of their new digs are now overcome with dread, some seriously considering walking away from their homes altogether because they feel powerless to stop the tide of property neglect and financial ruin. I can think of at least four condominiums in Ward 8 that are facing serious financial and construction related issues. I have one friend who paid her mortgage and condo fees faithfully (and on time) who found herself without heat this winter because there was no money in the condominium association's coffers! Regardless of the reasons, there definitely seems to be a disturbing trend emerging. What do you do when your American Dream turns into a nightmare?
|Savoy Court Condominiums - NOT a nightmare|
It does make me wonder, "Where do questionable development and property management companies go when they want to do business in the District?"
Northwest or Southeast? The more "affluent" and connected neighborhoods of D.C. or those literally "over the river and through the woods?" Where do first-time homebuyers with limited resources go when they find themselves left holding the bag? Who hears them? Who stands up for them? Who makes sure the standard is being met and addresses it when it is not?
I don't want my neighbors to end up in the poor house — or the crazy house -- just because they dared to believe in the "American Dream. I don't want them to move just because the idea of staying is just too traumatic.
Real estate shouldn't make you cry.
P.S. If there are any reporters out there looking to do a story on this issue please contact me. I would be happy to put you in touch with some of my frustrated neighbors.