Friday, September 28, 2007

Maybe I shouldn't have slept in today

I am usually out of bed at 5:15am and on my way to the gym by 5:45, 4-5 days a week. But today, I decided my body needed some rest and stayed in bed until 6:45. Sheer bliss I tell you. After making my morning peppermint tea (herbal, natch) I curl up on the sofa and put on the Today Show. Ahh, those guilty pleasures of morning TV and sexy Matt Lauer. But to my horror, there were no stories of men rescuing babies from burning buildings, or women have sextuplets. It was about the real estate market!

The moment I turned on the TV, Lauer was talking to business know it all Jim Cramer about the outrage of his comment: "Don't you dare by real estate now!" WHA?!?! This was NOT what I needed to hear upon waking. Now, I am no real estate scholar. I practically know next to nothing, but am educating myself as we move through this process. No sooner than my head began to defuzz from my night's sleep, the next shot was, of course, another expert who disagrees with Mr. Cramer. Then the back and forth banter began, my eyes following the two like I was watching a tennis match. After a few minutes, I finally gave up and put on the DVR'd LA Ink. Nothing like reality TV to settle the nerves.

ANyway, the point is, everyone has an opinion. Experts, friends, family, the dog. We have friends telling us to keep our fabulous rental apartment. Our financial planner, when asked if this was a good time to buy, said "anytime is a good time to buy" because it's an investment, and real estate is the best investment you can make. I tend to think along the lines of our planner. Throwing $2600 each month in rent away doesn't feel so good. What we need to is see what's out there, see if anything clicks, and "calls" to us.

PS. On another note, the Post published their HOME real estate guide, which my coworker proudly presented to me this morning. Granted, much of it is advertisements, but it's great to look through. Some of these new buildings are off the hook!

PPS. I would also like to note that this is MRS. Southpaw writing an homage to Matt Lauer. Not the Mr. (Although, if this were Trainer Bob from biggest loser, it could be either of us)

Thursday, September 27, 2007

The Most Affordable Real Estate in New York...

(drums please...and not like in the beginning of that fresh prince song "summertime.")


Yup, i said it. Binghamton. At least it is according to a recent Business Week Article we ran across on the

In terms of cost:

Most Affordable: Binghamton
2007 Avg. Sales Price: $193,382

Most Expensive: Katonah
2007 Avg. Sales Price: $904,750

Variance: $711,368

Well the good news is that we will most definitely not be moving to Katonah. (No disrespect if you are from there and have dreams of one day putting your child on MTV's "My Sweet Sixteen."

To Condo or Coop- That is the Question

I seriously think I am crazy. All this going back and forth with what I think I want, and then changing my mind, and then changing it back again. Breathe, Mrs. Southpaw. No decisions have to be made yet (plus we found if we dont find an apt by end Feb, we can extend our lease by 3 months, but it's my busiest travelling month in May, so don't really want to do that).

Anyway, the latest question/debate on my mind is condo vs. coop. In Forest Hills, where we'll be on Sunday, they are basically ALL coops. We originally wanted a condo, but we're open. But then we learned that we'll probably have to put down a 30-40% down payment on a coop, and we just can't afford that. We have crunched our numbers and can afford a 20% deposit, leaving us enough money for renovations and a very important emergency fund. This extra 10-20% is something we're not prepared to do. I realize every coop is different, but that's just what I'm hearing, at least in Forest Hills.

So after learning about this (such a learning curve!) I ran home and neglected cooking dinner, and looked for condos. There are many in Brooklyn and LIC (newer construction). Of course, condos are more expensive, but we dont need to lay out the 30-40% down payment, plus there's no board to deal with, and a major plus is that we could rent out the apartment down the road and use that as a source of income for us. Agh, who knows what we'll do, but I'm still jazzed about all of this (my god, did I just say jazzed...I think the golden girls picture makes me think of jazzercising, the excercise nut I am).

SO, that's where we are now...I'd love to hear your thoughts or comments!

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

I get high with a little help from my friends...

Thanks, everyone, for your comments. Your support means so much!
Next request: If anyone knows good brokers, buildings, or places to check out in general in the areas where we are looking, please let me know. Any help would be much appreciated!

Golden Girls: Forest Hills

Amanda here. Although Matt is the writer, I think it's time I give this blog a go and put in my two cents. I mean, come on, as the wife, isn't my say the most important (look away, matt!)

So, Matt and I are pretty clueless on how to start our search. As we mentioned, we have 3 short months to make a definite, huge decision on where to live for the next 5-7 years. And because it is my nature, finding an apartment is not only my mission, it is my life.

I have scoured the internet on,, and local real estate companies in order to learn everything I can. Right now, I'm focusing on Forest Hills, where we're going on Sunday. It's very affordable for us, and we like that, but one thing scares me. Based on the interiors of the apartments i've seen online, I'm convinced that everyone in Forest Hills is a grandma.

Why do I think this? Because every apartment is furnished in the most god awful, tired way. And Im not talking about Golden Girls grandma...they at least had some Florida style, while not my style, it worked for them. Plus, I love the Golden Girls (my friends said I was most like Dorothy) But what Im talking about here is just sad. Furniture from the 50s (and not that cool midcentury stuff, either). Heavy curtains. Books crammed on old, antique book shelves. Dark paneling. Im allergic jsut thinking of the dust bunnies hopping around. What's the deal, people? Granted, I come from a design world and am very sensitive to this, but EVERY apartment looks like the smell of mothballs and chicken soup. We can only wait and see.

If Matt and I end up in Forest Hills, you can bet the first thing I'm going to do is paint, paint, paint. And get rid of the doilies.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Fort Greene

Fort Greene. Well, we actually went to Fort Greene to visit a friend who just had their baby, and little did we know we were actually interviewing this cool neighborhood south of Manhattan. I have to admit going in Amanda thought we were anti, and that our heart was set on Queens, but after seeing all there was to offer, we definitely are re-thinking how we feel. We don't have pictures for this venture, but we do have our list of pros and cons from our visit this past Sunday.
1. Great neighborhood..perfect for a kid and a dog. (Did we just say that out loud? Also, which comes first, the kid or the dog? Maybe we should have the dog and make sure we don't kill it before having a kid)
2. Good value on real estate that we've seen...can get a great apt that feels like a home.
3. Up and coming area (While many parts of Brooklyn are already what we'd call developed and past up and coming, the whole area is slowly coming to life).
4. Great park (fort greene park
5. Good restaurants, organic food (very green, if you're into that type of thing).
6. Young area
7. MANY subways go there and back.
8. Quick subway ride to downtown Manhattan
9. Get to feel like you're out of the city without getting too far away.
10. Crunch gym. (While some people feel this is a bad thing for Brooklyn, any semblance of a chain, we welcome it as we love Crunch. So there).

1. Borders on a shady area
2. Some parts (too) under-developed
3. Are we not hip enough for Brooklyn? (Refuse to get tattoos or multiple piercings)
4. Longer commute to NYC (35-45 minutes)
5. Longer commute to Westchester
6. Enough stimulation around the area for us?

Monday, September 24, 2007

First Entry

This is the first entry of apartment buying venture. The blog will seek to serve a few purposes.

First and foremost, it is our way of keeping track of the neighborhoods we visit, the ones we love, what we love about them and why. The pluses and minuses, the pros and cons. With all the disorganization running around (at least in the writers mind) this will keep a dialogue and record of where and when and what we felt at that time. (Plus some pics to match). We'll also keep a record of our experiences with brokers.

Secondly, this blog is going to help us laugh when we think about how ridiculous the process may be of looking for an apartment.

Here's the deal: Our lease ends Feb 28th. Today is September 24th. That leaves us 3 months to search, scour, and scorn the bureaus of Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens to find a place for us to move into on March 1st!

May god be with us.