Husband and I are taking the leap into adulthood and buying a home. I pictured the process akin to renting: We would follow a broker around NYC and looks at apartments until we found one we liked. Then we would tell them we wanted it, have our excellent credit confirmed and viola! Apartment would be ours. It turns out that is not even close to true.
Let’s start with the fact that we are picky. I refuse to live anywhere but the Upper West Side of NYC and, although that includes the up and coming Morningside Heights neighborhood, I will not move above 106th Street and, if above 97th Street, I refuse to be east of Amsterdam Avenue. Oh, I also will not live below Columbus Circle and if south of 65th Street, I won’t live west of Broadway. So pretty much I am restricted to one of the priciest sections of Manhattan. Plus, now that Sister is on the West side, I am not moving far from her.
So, we search high and low (well as high as 106th Street and as low as 66th Street) and see one place that could work, but will not allow dogs (Tiki is a non-negotiable part of the package) and then we find it. An adorable apartment in a well maintained building on 106th and Broadway. Near the subway, restaurants, bagels and Riverside Park. Two blocks from a dog run. Bright, quiet and full of pre-war details like a 66 foot hallway with exposed brick. The only thing it was missing was outdoor space but we already had conceded that we would not afford an apartment with a private garden again and really, who needs outdoor space when three different parks are within 100 yards of the front door?
And so much space! I can envision making this place home.
Now, for the financials and the part where I get confused and lost. The apartment badly need renovations. It needs a new kitchen and bathroom and the maid’s room is really just wasted space. I would knock down the walls from the bathroom to the kitchen, enlarge the bathroom and build in a laundry cabinet for a washer/dryer and turn the kitchen into a real chef’s kitchen with an island to make it eat it. And the paint needs to be stripped and the floors polished and sanded. So we are talking serious money.
So, Husband comes up with a brilliant plan. We put 10% down (we have been saving diligently for years for this moment!), withdraw a bit from our 401(k) and take out a mortgage to cover the rest of the cost of the apartment as well as the cost of any renovations. We figure we would offer about $100K under ask since real estate prices are falling.
Well, it turns out that prices are falling everywhere but NYC, where they have been steadily rising. And, except for new developments (which are priced so high as to be offensive), you are pretty much stuck with coops and all the crap that entails. Like an obligation to put down 20-25%. Who has that kind of cash lying around???? And, you can’t take out a home equity loan because in a coop, you don’t really own your apartment, you own stock in the corporation that is your building and your share entitles you to live there…or something. So we can’t finance the renovations through the mortgage and we need more money than we can dream of for a down payment. Oh, and the last apartment sold in the building went for above asking price!
I spoke to the mortgage broker and ended up listening to her talk about options for 20 minutes, none of which made any sense to me. All I could see was my little dream apartment slipping away. I finally told her I did not understand what she was talking about and (politely) said that I could not summon the energy to deal with it anymore. Head safely back in the sand, I went home and cracked open a couple bottles of wine in which to drown my sorrows and forget that I did not know the answers to questions like “How much does Husband make per year?” and “Do you own any stocks?”
Grrr. Forays into adulthood suck.