August 1, 2012 § Leave a comment
And in true how-I-blog fashion, I started a new blog called sowerebuyingahouse.wordpress.com for, you know, historical accuracy.
And because it had been a while since I started a new blog.
Now you can check out what’s driving me nuts about it this time around! Yay!
April 19, 2011 § 1 Comment
So since the deal fell through I may as well end my silly superstition that writing about it would jinx it somehow. Maybe not writing about it jinxed it. Maybe it was going to be jinxed either way.
In any case, my realtor and I met a few Saturdays ago to see a few houses. After a disappointing house with an uncooperative family member slash tenant that was a slight bit too far from a train and had a slight bit too much “potential” than I was willing to realize, my realtor asked me to look up an address.
That’s perfect! I said. It’s even closer to the train than I am now!
Then he told me the story. He knows the investor who bought it and the investor is on the verge of flipping it. He told the investor to wait wait wait, he knows someone who would be willing to buy it if it was renovated.
You want to go look at it? He asks.
He must have known I would say yes because he started driving before I gave a verbal affirmative.
We get to the house and the windows are boarded up and the door is locked by a chain and padlock. He warns me that the house is pretty much toe-up (though probably in a more eloquent way) and we can only really see the first two floors because the roof is caved in.
It’s perfect! I can imagine what it looks like when someone finally takes a sledgehammer to the walls and changes the layout in a way that is actually modern and sensible.
I want this house, I say when we lock it back it. I want it. Get it for me.
Okay, my realtor says. He chuckles a bit. Let me talk to the investor and find out what he wants to do with it.
I immediately call my boyfriend even though I know he is in the middle of a class. I leave a long message. Then I call my mom and have a very excited conversation about the true potential of this house.
Then a few days pass.
Then a few more days.
Then I get the final call – the investor is selling it for cash to a group of people who are going to turn it into a boarding house for people struggling to get on their feet.
Well gosh. Can I really be mad about that?
So I’m not. Tomorrow, I’m going to look at another set of houses. We will see if any of them warrant an excited phone call of sorts.
Wish me luck. Or something.
April 4, 2011 § Leave a comment
Right about the time I was on the fence about the first house that I almost bought, winding into the idea that I wasn’t going to buy it anymore, I started looking for other houses and this realtor just kept calling me constantly to see if I was interested in looking at houses.
Finally I just called him and told him the situation:
Look, I’m tied up in this other house right now and even though I’m definitely looking, if this house goes through, I’m taking it.
Okay, he says. I’ll just keep sending you houses and you just tell me if you want to see any.
A few emails later, one of the listings piques my interest and I schedule an appointment to see it with him. I didn’t really take to it or the other house he showed me but he seemed miles more professional than the last agents I was working with. He had one sheets of he houses we were going to look at and – get this – a folder for everything so it wouldn’t get wrinkled. Be still my heart.
I told him if he found me a better house, I would cancel the other contract immediately.
We shook hands and I felt hopeful. I spent the rest of the night looking up houses in the area that I might want to see and emailed him my list.
A few days later and I still didn’t hear from him.
So I followed up. Still nothing.
Two months later, well into my relationship with my other realtor, I get a phone call from him. Then another. I text him back and tell him I already found someone else.
He calls and leaves another voicemail. He tells me he knows I said I already found another realtor, but would it be all right with him if he still sent me listings.
That night, I have an email with listings in my inbox. (Can you say stalker?)
I am almost ready to respond childishly and say, well, if you’re okay with me passing on the listings I’m interested in to my current realtor and having him contact you, then yes, please keep sending me listing for Glendale, NY, or, you know, any other places I’ve never expressed interest in living.
Or maybe just – it’s too late, I’m working with someone who knows where the reply button is.
Or how about – what, did I make my way back around your to-call list again?
But I refrain. Bite my tongue and archive the message. If no response was appropriate for him, then no response is appropriate for me.
I tell my realtor the story of the other realtor when we meet up again to see a few houses. He just laughs.
So let that be a lesson to you, ladies, and gentlemen – the bad ones always come crawling back right when you got something good going.
Idea for my next (first) book – how trying buying a house is like trying to find a boyfriend. It’s going to sell like – in Zach Galafanakis’s words on SNL two weeks ago – whatever the opposite of hotcakes is.
March 31, 2011 § 3 Comments
So today is the three year anniversary at my job. I’ve never stayed at anything for that long. Year of milestones I guess.
I’ve spent the last month too busy looking at houses to write in this thing. Super quick updates since the last time (good thin I put every house in my gcal – neurosis wins again!):
March 1 – The beginning, again
Tuesday night I meet my boyfriend at the train stop and we walk down a row of lovely brick houses, hoping we stop in front of one of them. My realtor comes up to meet us as we arrive and one of the tenants comes out and asks who we are looking for. We tell them we are here to see he house and he shakes his head.
Did anyone tell you we were coming? Asks my realtor.
He points inside. Let me go get the other guy.
Other guy, presumably another tenant comes out. Both of them point to the stairs leading up to a dark apartment and tell us we have to talk to tony. Who is very obviously not home.
As we walk up the stairs we all know it’s futile but we do it anyway.
The tenant meets us on out way down and asks for my realtors card, promising to let the owner know. He says he’s only lived there for a few months and no one has told him anything.
We thank him and walk away, kind of hoping he was totally pulling one over on us and had really been living there for years and wanted to keep it that way.
March 5 and the house that almost was
All week I had been pestering my realtor to get me an appointment a this house on ditmars, about 30 feet away from where one of my best friends just moved.
A dozen dodgy phone calls later, we finally find ourselves in front of the house on a Saturday afternoon. We wait for the selling agent for about 10 minutes and finally shrug and knock on the door.
A very surprised tenant opens the door and we ask if we can see the house. Turns out no one told him what was going on.
A couple walks in behind us and asks if this is the open house. We exchange glances and stifle laughs as we say, Open house?
Tentatively making our way up the stairs, my heart sinks. We can’t get into any of the apartments and it’s clear that the tenants have been living there for ages and had no idea their homes were being potentially uprooted. One half of the couple points to a tiny dead mouse in the corner of the house as we leave.
My realtor has one more appointment scheduled on Vernon in about an hour so I tell him I’m going to wait my my boyfriends house close by.
What a blow. I made the mistake of building that one up in my head and now I feel like I lost something I never had. I whine that I don’t even want to see the other house.
Meander over to Vernon and my realtor comes out of the house very excited. It’s beautiful inside, he says.
I take a 15 minute tour and call my boyfriend. I really like it, I tell him.
Fully renovated, all new appliances, vaulted ceilings, three family, lots of light, huge backyard. All the rooms are at least as big as my room and no railroads going on.
We agree to meet tomorrow to take a look.
This time I have my boyfriend come as my critical eye. He walks in and says, wow, this is really nice. I haven’t heard him say that about any house right off the bat. So I’m not crazy.
This time we go down to the basement to find that the original arches of the house are still in tact. So beautiful.
I would love to have it finished down here, I say offhandedly.
We can do that, the sellers agent says.
How much would it cost?
He puts his hands up. Oh no, that’s all a part of the negotiations. Anything you want to add is negotiable.
Um, okay, cool.
We leave, shaking the seller’s agent’s hand excitedly. My roommates have to come see this.
My only reservation is this house is right next to the projects. Literally, my boyfriend says carefully.
Yeeeaaah, but how bad is that, really? Says naive Pam who wants what she wants.
Well, it’s never good.
Hmm, let’s keep thinking about it.
I email my mortgage guy immediately and ask if I can qualify for a loan for a three family house. This house costs 100k more than I’m currently approved for, yeesh.
Actually, with a three family, your income is secondary to the rental income. The whole calculation changes.
I get a loan approved with flying colors. So easy.
(so at this point you must realize that I didn’t buy this house. If not, hi, I didn’t buy this house. So easy = too easy it turns out.)
My cousin from canada is visiting this week, my cousin who I haven’t seen in five years. At the end of the week, I drag her, her friend, and my two roommates to see the house.
Everyone ooohs and ahhhhs accordingly. I’m already envisioning how I’m going to set up my room.
Before we leave, my realtor says, okay, we need to make an offer tomorrow. Write down all the changes you want to make to the house and think about what you want to offer.
Okay! I say, looking around at my four escorts excitedly.
We get take out and I’m beside myself. Another friend comes over and I tell her all about it.
And its all new and all the appliances are stainless steel and they’re going to do whatever I ask them to do to change it, like add a balcony on the second floor and finish the basement. Theonlyproblemisitsrightnexttotheprojects.
I tell her.
She then begins to retell every horror story I’ve ever heard her tell and how they all happened at the exact intersection where the house is.
Yeah, boy roommate chimes in. I got there a little early to check out the “food outlet” and the first thing someone says to me when I walk in is what are you doing here white boy.
Yeesh times two.
Okay, I can’t buy this house, can I?
My friend shakes her head as she bites into a piece of chicken. I wouldn’t rent a room at that intersection.
Awww, I’m sorry, she says. Think of this as like your rebound house. You just went through a bad house break up and something shiny came along to distract you.
I had already made my list of dream requests. I save it to my drafts for maybe another house and send my realtor a short email with one of the more horrifying stories my friend has told me and an emphatic pass on the house.
March 19 and the house tour of Bushwick
We meet at the first house and it’s another case of my-landlord-didn’t-tell-me-you-were-coming. We leave after tentatively walking through one unit.
The next house has taken some creative license and decided to paint some rooms a pepto bismol bubble gum pink and some rooms a baby blue only a baby should wear. Also, only two of the six bedrooms had windows.
The next house was huge and two of the three units were open. Awkward layout and railroad apartments turn off my boyfriend who comes to meet us to see this one house before rehearsal.
The next house is in an amazing location. Right off wyckoff in between the dekalb and Myrtle l, I’ve been salivating about seeing this house all week.
We get there and meet a tenant with two adorable dogs. He is brisk and says no one told him we were coming. We find out from the sellers agent who is 20 minutes late that the tenants have been living here for about 8-10 years each. Yeesh again.
We walk into the first unit and a very polite couple allow us into their home. I barely remember any features of the house because all I can picture is their wine collection in the corner, two giant, comfortably worn blue suede couches that take up the living room, a lovely bedroom slash office, and a very well-kept kitchen.
I’ll wait for you outside while you go and look at other houses, my roommate mumbles to me.
Oh I’m done. I whisper back. I look at my realtor and shake my head, no more, I’m good.
He says something diplomatic to the selling agent and we leave.
The next day he calls me and very politely tells me that I need to have a more open mind about going into houses with tenants.
You don’t know the tenant-landlord arrangement, he says. Some tenants are offered money to move out and most are given a lot of notice. Very few houses we see in your price range will be vacant. I know you feel bad for the tenants, but you also don’t know their situation.
My realtor has been a real estate agent in New York since 1987. I was 2 years old in 1987. I guess he has an idea of what he’s talking about.
At the end of the day, I still plan to trust my gut. If the situation seems shady, I don’t want to involve myself, no matter how perfect the house.
More house hunting this weekend. Spring is sprung and houses are supposed to pop up all over the place. Someday by prince – er, house – will come.
February 28, 2011 § 1 Comment
My down payment check came in the mail yesterday. Along with the bill for the attorney. Double burn – no house plus fat legal fee.
I think I’m moving on as best I can though. Getting the check back is starting to put me in a moving-on frame of mind. The house feels farther and farther away and less and less like it was mine in the first place. It was never really mine because it was never really theirs to sell.
I’m looking at two houses on tuesday, one of which is five doors down from a place one of my bff’s just moved into on a cute little block right near the train. For a full 100k less than the other house. I’m trying really hard not to take it as a sign.
Last weekend, on president’s day, I looked at a house one train stop away from the train stop I actually wanted to live off of. You could say I was getting a little desperate, on the rebound even.
The neighborhood became less charming and more, um, uncharming, as we walked to the other train stop. We wandered through the house and every floor had a different, but very distinct funk. Every single room was rented to a different person.
That sealed the deal – I only want to live off one of two stops. That’s it. No more compromising.
The realtor called me the next day and told me about a new financing program he offered that allowed me funds to fix up the house if I needed them.
You mean a 203k loan? I retorted back. I already looked into that. I can’t wait six months to have a house fixed up and try to pay a mortgage and rent.
No, no, you wouldn’t have to start paying the mortgage until all the construction was done.
Yeah, I don’t know what you’ve heard about it, but the payments would start on the loan until you could move in.
Oh. Wow. Cooool… I’m still not interested in that house.
Okay, tell me what you are looking for.
I want to live only 3-4 blocks – blocks not avenues – from either this train or this train.
Hold on, let me look at a map.
I want at least a two family, with a backyard, in my price range.
Pause. You’re asking for the impossible.
Pause. That’s what I want.
Okay. I’ll look through my listings and see what I can find.
I hope he couldn’t taste the skepticism in my voice. Every realtor I’ve ever had tell me they would get back to me – even to the point of saying “I will get back to you shortly” in an email – I have yet to hear from.
A few hours later, this guy sends me a listing. I look up the address and it’s not quite what I want, but I have to admit, I am a little impressed.
He looked at a map when I told him where I wanted to live. Believe it or not, not one realtor has ever done that.
I’ve been in contact with him for about a week now. He communicates through email, text, and phone. He checks in every day. I feel like he cant wait to find me a house.
Also very close to getting some sort of pre-approval for my mortgage. This basically means they put me through the financial ringer (i.e. Underwriting) and I have to do none or very little of it when I do finally find a house.
Writing that ridiculous check to the attorney was also stranglehold cleansing. I’m done with her. No more chasing after her in voicemails, emails, and her fortress of receptionists. No more having to strong arm any form of contact. So done.
I’m ready to put more time into this whole house hunting thing. At the same time that I want it now (and I always have i-want-it-now syndrome), I also feel even more strongly that something even better and more perfect and more in my price range will magically find it’s way into my life.
And I really believe that.
February 17, 2011 § Leave a comment
Yesterday, an assistant at my attorney’s office called to tell me that they faxed over a copy of the cancellation letter and sent an original via certified mail.
So that’s it. No more house for Pam. Okay, that’s a little melodramatic. No more house for Pam for now.
I’m pretty sure I don’t know how to feel about it. On the one hand, I am genuinely relieved. A huge chunk of (my mom’s) money was tied up in the contract and in a few days I will have it back. The interest rates have gone up to the point where I don’t *quite* qualify for the loan. I’m definitely pushing it in any case. After all this, I have yet to do an inspection, which could have also proven to be a contract death knell.
And boy do I ever feel like I got dicked around. It might have just been time to wash my hands of that whole thing once and for all.
On the other hand, I (still) feel genuinely torn. I really liked this house. I imagined myself in it many times over. How the backyard would look. How many hammocks would go on the deck. How the living room would be painted. How the basement would be finished. What kind if washer dryer combo to get.
Okay, now it’s all out of my system. Time to really move on.
I wonder if now is the time to really spend time looking for a good realtor instead of a good house. Or get a bunch of realtors working for me until one of them found me the right house. I’m not exactly sure what the next steps are from here. I was so set and then suddenly, I wasn’t.
At the very least, I know what I want. And I can always keep telling myself that there’s a reason this didn’t work out and everything happens for a reason blah blah blah. Yeah, that.
February 10, 2011 § 3 Comments
On Tuesday, I decided I was going to cancel the contract.
I looked at another house in the neighborhood, and while it wasn’t right, it was also not awful. It was renovated, but they exposed the brick in a really cool way. One of the rooms was t-I-n-y (the size of a twin bed tiny) so I could never have anyone actually live in it, but the other two rooms were a great size.
Also, remember the house with the kittens in the summer? The same guy who renovated that house also renovated this one. And this house was much more well done. Still lacking most of the personality that I’m looking for, but better. Better is the theme here, I’d say.
I’m supposed to go see a gut renovation on Saturday – 3 family thats two avenues from the JMZ at Myrtle/Broadway. Again, probably not counting on it being a winner, but I’m looking. And getting closer and closer to finding something else.
This was Tuesday.
On Wednesday, I called my attorney and told her I wanted to cancel the contract. I rambled on a bit about how I would give them until Friday but that I highly doubted they would have it by Friday and she agreed. She said she was going to call the estate attorney right away to tell them I’m ready to rescind. It will be two months on Monday since that last court date.
This was Wednesday.
On Thursday, I’m in a meeting when my attorney calls. She leaves a message that says she spoke to the estate attorney, who says he just reviewed the file with the court yesterday and “all they need” is the death dates of some of the relatives. He’s already reached out to his client for it and is waiting to hear back. He says the court will sign the letters immediately as soon as they get that information.
I called my attorney back as soon as I got the message and told her to call me back.
I’m giving them until Monday. And that’s it.
February 6, 2011 § Leave a comment
I got a call from my attorney on Friday.
She said she got a call from the seller’s attorney.
The seller’s attorney said that the court clerk called and wanted to review the file with him on Monday.
Neither attorney has any idea what the court wants to ask or review.
I know it’s no ones fault at this point (besides the incredibly inefficient and bureaucratic NY court system), but now I just feel like this has got to be some sort of something. A sign? I don’t know if I want to read that much into it. But should I?
I guess I’ll just have to wait until Monday to see what kind of delay this delay is.
Still looking for another house and keeping my eyes open.
February 1, 2011 § Leave a comment
In the midst of all the probate-court-ruiner-of-my-sanity-ness, I’ve been trying to work out the actual procuring of a mortgage. You see, I am on the cusp of actually qualifying for a loan in the first place. Or maybe I should say was on the cusp?
Waaaaay back in september, back before person-height snow banks and sleeping bag coats, I applied for a mortgage. My credit was as shiny as the undriven snow, if you will. (Okay, so there’s snow everywhere and there’s going to be more snow, all I got are snow metaphors). Anyway, so credit’s really shiny and interest rates are at the lowest point in HISTORY (and I’m typing this on an iPhone so I mean business when I say HISTORY) and I squeeeak by and qualify for a mortgage. Maybe two squeaks.
Fast forward to snow. I mean now. Where there is snow. History is history. I call my mortgage broker because I have a sinking inkling that rates have gone up. They have.
About 1/2 a point, from 4.25% to 4.75% means my payments have increased to the point where the system is no longer letting me sneak by.
Here’s what we will do, my favorite person who I’ve worked with throughout this whole process says. The system isnt clearin you right now. If you don’t mind doing some work up front – I will do all the work – Then we can start gathering documents and get a pre-approval going. Someone will take a look at everything you have and decide whether or not to approve the loan. Then, once the property clears, we can just move forward since we’ve already done the underwriting (oh yeah, this whole process is called underwriting).
Over the next few weeks, I gather documents, sign a bunch of redundant paperwork, and, actually, contact another loan officer. Because here is the reality. Even if I am pre-approved, the hike in mortgage payments is going to put me out in a way I am not sure I am prepared to be put out. I wouldn’t be breaking even anymore.
So even though I love love love working with this guy (Mario Trotta at wells fargo if you ever need a mortgage or loan, what a superstar!), I decide to go down the sonyma route again.
(Recap – sonyma is the new York state mortgage agency that has stricter guidelines but incredible interest rates)
So I went back to the sonyma site and made a few phone calls, doing my best to avoid the Chase’s and Citibank’s. I called someone at Ridgewood Bank and Trust and spoke to a very sweet mortgage broker slash aspiring yoga instructor (really! You can’t make this stuff up!) who said that I might stand a chance after I told her my situation and my financials.
But of course I can’t start on that loan process unless I really commit. Like money commit. So that’s on hold.
Today, I got a call from an underwriter.
I have a few questions for you.
**whirlwind of questions ensues, voice is slightly raised as I defend a few things, am confused by a few things, feel uncomfortable about a few things. It’s like my financials got patted down at the airport by someone of the opposite sex.**
And that’s what it’s like right now. This whole buying a house thing – worth it right?
January 31, 2011 § Leave a comment
So it’s been a while since anyone’s heard from me about this whole house thing. Mostly because I don’t freaking have it yet.
Interest rates have gone up, my loan is up in the air, my credit is less awesome than when I started and the whole thing is backed up because of clerical, bureaucratic bullshit. All we need is a judge to sign some stupid letters that he ruled a month and a half ago that he was going to sign and… Nothing. The courts are backed up is all my lawyer and the mostly MIA agents will tell me.
Pretty sure I only heard a peep from the realtor because she’s changing her email address. Maybe I’m getting cynical. I’m sure she really wanted to check in. That’s why she sent that completely insensitive email last month about how it’s taking longer for loans to close and that rate locks are expiring with no explanation as to why she sent it and I, of course being the insane, overly sensitive, and angry person I am, wrote back and told her she knew I wasn’t near closing a loan yet and how could I even be thinking about this now, and did she have any status updates about the house.
She wrote back one line – I was just informing my clients of what’s going on, not to tell anyone to lock any rates. Smiley emoticon.
Literally everything I am riding on is in the hands of a judge who can’t sign papers fast enough. Hello signature stamp? Maybe learn to sign with both hands. Being ambidextrous can literally double productivity here. Worth it. I will take a signature that looks like your five year old wrote it. Hell, get your five year old in there. There’s gotta be a take your kid to work day something.
I am taking action into my own hands a bit. Still fruitless, but at least I feel like I’m doing something. I confirmed with my attorney that I can get out of the contract at any time because they were supposed to have the letters to me by February 5th.
BUT, why get out of the contract now when I don’t have another house lined up yet? It’s like putting out your resume while you’re still working at your other job and can’t get your f-ing boss to sign your checks!
Okay, possibly not that dire, but still.
I called back an agent who had been hounding be since before Christmas. Honestly, I admired his follow up. So I called him, told him I wanted to see a house he had on the market and the other day, he showed me that house and another house.
When I met him, he shook my hand, led me into the house to sign some papers disclosing that he was the seller’s agent for the house and his obligations were to the seller (how professional), and handed me his business card, the business card of a mortgage broker they worked with, and the business card of an attorney they worked with.
Then he gave me a copy of the disclosures I just signed, along with the one sheets for the houses we were about to see, in, get this, a manila folder! So I could keep everything in order and it wouldn’t get ruined!
Both of the houses we saw turned out to be renovation jobs and one was too far off the J train for me to seriously consider it, but I did walk away feeling like he had a real idea of what I was looking for.
So the next day, because, as we all know, I am insane (only sometimes angry), I spent my lunch hour scouring the internet for houses and sending him links to all of them. A few days later, I followed up with him on the links I sent.
And now it’s a few days later and still nothing.
I guess I really have to do everything myself. Whomp whomp.