Wednesday, October 31, 2007

A gripe (updated)



So we haven’t officially turned down the offer yet, but we did find out an interesting tidbit: that it is actually illegal for a condo to be sold for above asking price. So if you bid asking price, legally you’re supposed to get it, and someone technically can’t outbid you.

(While I don’t know if this is definitely true or not, we heard this from a broker who was not involved with us in this actual bid since they did not allow co-broking). I write this b/c we put in at listing price and were out-bid so I don’t know if what they did was technically illegal


But this is a game of charlatans and snake oil salesmen, so what can you do?

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Down and out??


I know we keep making veiled references to boxing, but honestly, it seems like that is the best way to sum up the experience of bidding and counter bidding and what not.

It’s like a round comes up and you think you got your shots on and have the upper hand, and then BOOM, next round the opponent comes in with a quick shot to the mid-section and you’re pissing blood. (Ok, not necessarily the case)

Unfortunately, it looks like we may have been outbid on this property. We love it…it has everything we want, but the bastards seem to have put a bid in that matches what our cap was. And while we could afford to go higher, I think any higher and we would be paying more than the apt was worth.

The interesting thing we are considering is that there is the EXACT same apt just one flight up. Of course, we wouldn’t offer nearly as much as we are for this one, but it’s something we are considering, although I don’t know if we want to deal with going up the extra flight of stairs. I know what you’re saying, ‘poor me, one extra flight of stairs,’ but hell, when you’re carrying lots of goods and even a kid or two, it adds up.

That and I don’t know if I want to look in the eyes of the F**ker who outbid me.

This is how I feel:



(PS: We had two pictures planned for if we got the apartment…the one above is our ‘losing pic’ the one below would have been our ‘winning.’)

Monday, October 29, 2007

Round 3: blood sport




It's round 3. By now, a couple of good hits have been landed, a few body shots to the budget, an illegal kick to the groin, but we're still up and ahead of the game. Still in our price range although higher than we had hoped.

Tonight we put in our counter offer. As of now, we know there is at least one other player in the game. We knew from the moment we heard their bid we could counter it, but we waited...like sugar ray Leonard or Muhammad Ali (they call me cassius...watch me drop this beat...for all your LL fans), for the moment to strike, not to act too eager or too willing.

We will wait and see what tmw brings...

(PS..i used this photo not b/c of the gratuitous shot of a young woman's behind (although nice), but more b/c it was the best image I could find that said round 3. Honest. )

Round 2


Wow, this is fast.

So apparently there was another bid out there, and for more than us. (No we're not cheap bastards!). The paranoid side of me thinks the broker is making it up, but who knows...anyhow, now we have to think and counter punch and decide what to do next...

btw...we discovered that with a condo come all kinds of crazy taxes...which makes it a bit more expensive than a co-op...part of the cost of having much more freedom...

It's on


Ok,

quick news.

It's on. The Bid is in. The mental warfare begins.

We’re totally freaking. But in a good way. Yes, I’m freaking, but I’m also kind of calm about it. Just can’t believe it’s real and we did it. A and I are officially adults. Well, planning on being adults!

We’ll keep you guys posted on the next steps!

We have a winner??! (or Holy crap!)

Ok...

What a long day....great but long!
We started the day early, leaving Manhattan at 1030 for an 11am appointment. As stated earlier, we had spoken with the listing agent and although the open house wasn’t till 230, we got to go early. A’s parents came for the visit with us again which was great, as they ask the tough questions and make sure no shenanigans go on.

We got to Brooklyn a few minutes early (Broker was running late) so we made a pit stop to the Cocoa Bar, an awesome local coffee shop. Besides all kinds of crazy coffee drinks (Banana Cocoa Latte anyone?) They also have tons of chocolates and desserts (Peanut Butter Explosion…I would’ve but it was 11am people!)










The apartment is great. It’s a 1,019 square feet, 2 + bedroom. 2 bathroom (the + being an extra room that can be an office) on the second floor of a renovated brownstone. Every ting inside is new and beautiful…new bathrooms, new kitchen, re-stained floors.














I think this has everything we are looking for, from the location (6th ave b/w 5th and 6th street), to the school system (PS 39…yes we need to keep that in mind) to the fact that it is a condo. There’s only 4 units in the building, and the seller is on the first floor, which I hope means he put some care into making sure this place is in tip top shape as he will be leaving there as well!











We did of course visit 6 other proprieties, but at this point, none of them really held a candle to what we saw. Maybe they had no chance since from the first apartment of the day it was essentially over. We spent the rest of the day figuring out any other questions or concerns (believe it or not, having a storage place for a baby stroller was a big one).

After visiting more places in the slope we decided to entertain checking out Brooklyn Heights. In a nutshell, the heights are gorgeous but just way out of our price range. Plus, it lacks that Park Slope edge we really dig. It does have an amazing view as you can see her and it’s REALLY close to the city.

(THIS WAS A COOL APT BUILDING WE SAW, BUT NOT THE ONE WE LOVED...JUST THOUGHT IT WAS COOL HOW THEY SPELLED BROOKLYN IN GERMAN)


















We went home yesterday, really overwhelmed and in that “holy shit” mode. We’ve been talking about buying for a while, but now we’ve found a place we love and realize this could be it. So we decided to sleep on it and see how we feel, and then take it from there.

And today we decided we still love it, and are going to put a bid in.

Stay tuned for more…

Friday, October 26, 2007

Crooklyn Part 13.2 : The long ride home




Hey all,

So another weekend, another weekend of open houses (No, not a typo). This weekend we have 6 open houses to visit, with one potential closer. On paper seems great...condo, 1100 sq feet, second floor newly renovated brownstone. They are selling two identical properties, one on the 2nd floor, one on the third, for the same price...so of course we want the second floor if it is the place want. Mr. Mitt, using all his masculine wiles and charms, got us into a preview showing Sunday morning before the open house. Personally, i think the broker is just trying to undercut his own team-mate, but who knows.

We are also going to recheck out an old apt we saw last week that I wasn't crazy about b/c it was too close to the park, or for that matter, felt less like Brooklyn and more like Central Park West, but we will check.

I will be the first to admit that looking for apartments feels a lot like running a marathon. Or maybe a non-stop decathlon. There's all these events...doing the research, training and asking all the right questions, keeping track of things, getting the mortgage pre-approved, and then staying on top of things. This weekend A and I told ourselves that we were going to take it easy and not go down, but then an awesome place jumped out and we realized we can't stop b/c something great that we want could be taken out from under us, like the proverbial rug taken out below the feet of Aladdin as he flew thru the air to princess jasmine (don't ask...been a long week of nothingness and my brain somehow regressed to old Disney cartoons). But in all honesty, you just have to keep going, and then when you find it, and you have your home...well then you can rest. And truth be told, when you see a great apartment, and you think to yourself, 'wow, this might be my next home,' it's pretty exhilarating.

It's funny how A and I said after the wedding we were going to lay low and do a whole lot of nothing for a few months, but i realize it's just not in our nature.

An interesting question that has come up of late was how do condos get managed. With co-ops, there is a board and usually a management company, but for condos it can be different. I found this article on browns toner.

http://www.brownstoner.com/forum/archives/2007/10/who_manages_a_c.php

Stay tuned for our report on Sunday.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

FYE: The Money Pit Ice-Cube edition

Still nothing new to report...this weekend brings on more open houses and more adventures.

in the meantime, see a trailer for Hollywood's regurgitation of the money pit, now starring ice cube.



wasn't this the same guy who used to be gangster?



Maybe Brooklyn will turn me hard core.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

FYE: The Money Pit

nothing new to report....so in the meantime...enjoy! (and pray for the love of god this we don't end up like this!

)

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Pre-approved!


Good news!

While we have yet to find the home of our dreams, we have been approved for future home of our dreams, if and when we find it in the next 90 days.

For those of you who don't know what that means, pre-approval states that a mortgage company promises to give you a loan of a certain amount at a certain rate if you find a home to buy within a 90 day time period. this makes you attractive to prospective sellers who know that if you put a bid in for their property that you can not only afford the down payment, but that you are guaranteed to get a mortage .

When we started this whole process, we started looking at places and had seen a few places we liked, and then we realized…’well what if we loved this place?’ it turns out that if someone else was pre-approved and we weren’t and we put in similar bids, we could lose the apartment.

So anyway, this is good, and our future home (if we find in 90 days as stated earlier) will be backed.

(PS-I'm fully aware that the man in the picture giving the thumbs up is missing his two front teeth. This was how i felt on Sunday when i found out the apt we loved didn't allow pets).

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Visitaton Rights: Brooklyn (The Second Coming) or "Arf Arf"










As promised, this week would be a quick write up and posting of our second visit to Brooklyn in two weeks. Last week, after venturing through Ft. Greene, Clinton or Cobble Hill, or COCO or something, we came up on Park Slope and fell in love. So it was with that that we decided to focus this week's attention solely on the area b/w President and 12th street, and 5-7 avenue. 8 open houses, 1 heart-breaker, and a few close calls. The hunt is still on.

A and I started our venture early. For her bridal shower she had received a gift certificate at an Israeli brunch place called Miriam's so off we went leaving Manhattan at 10am trying to beat the morning rush to eat. We walked up to 59th street, hopped on the 5 down. (We actually had to stop and switch to the 4 but my geriatric mind can't recall what stop we had). Either way, we made it in time. Amanda enjoyed two poached eggs in tomato and pepper sauce and I enjoyed two eggs with borek, tahini and yogurt. (Sorry, no photos...when we get hungry that overtakes everything else).














The night before we had planned our day out meticulously, plotting a course that would take us around the various open houses in the allotted time frame. Our first stop was Union Street and we got there a few minutes early. What's a guy to do with time to kill? Get dragged to a store to go shopping. But luckily, it was Brooklyn Industries, which is kind of like Urban Outfitters only with less crap and only 2/3 of the price tags depending on the t-shirt.










Amanda found a blazer an sweatshirt, but since it was getting warm and we didn't want to drag around (Read:I didn't want to drag around), we left it with store and went off to visit the apartment.

The first few apartments weren't really worth writing about. Well that's not entirely true. Part of what this process is us learning more what we DON'T want as what we DO want. The first apartment was a 1,200 sq foot, 3 bedroom apt on the 3rd floor of a brownstone. The apartment was huge, but unfortunately, very very dark. We could afford it, but we'd have spent all our savings just to buy the place, which would leave us with not much money to fix it up, which clearly this place would need. We thanked the broker and went on our way.

Our second stop was at a quaint little place on 5th avenue, a couple selling a 2 bedroom apt on their own. Once again, this apartment was nice, but on 5th which to us Westchester folk felt a little like central avenue, plus for my tastes it was a little dark. I would put up pictures, but the people didn't let us take photographs. (I didn't ask to, but figure they would've said no).

When you live in Manhattan and have a rental, you don't really think about things like Feng Shui or flow. You don't think about the set-up or how the rooms look. When you're buying and you start to visualize how you might actually live, it changes things up. Specially when you think how you might feel in 5 years when you actually grow up (My god, I'll be 35). And it is with that that we begin to tell the story of the heartbreak apartment, the one that got away.

First, a quick side note. Last weekend, A's parents came with us to Brooklyn. It was great because they asked tons of questions, things we didn't even think of, like whether the super was on site, who cleaned the common areas, outside storage space. One apartment we saw last weekend was beautiful, but in essence the tenants acted as supers, and everyone was expected to empty the garbage for everyone else once a week. It was a little odd. One question it is important to ask is whether a building is pet friendly. This is important if you are an animal lover or hater. Hate pets? Go to a place that hates them too. Love them? Make sure the place likes having them around, specially before you go looking around.

Amanda and I showed up at a GORGEOUS 1,000 sq. ft apartment on 8th street b/w 6 and 7th. A gorgeous 3rd floor brownstone on the block we dreamed. A darling woman and her father-in-law greeted us at the door with fresh baked chocolate chip cookies (I had two, Amanda none). The apartment was fabulous. A perfect, open kitchen with lots of room and beautiful floors. A huge living room with space for a table and bookshelves and storage. Two big rooms, 1.5 bathrooms, lots of light, washer and dryer. Even better? In our price range. SOOOOOO In our price range.

So...not a condo. That's OK. Pet friendly? Yes. If you're pet is a cat. Or a bird. Or a hamster. We didn't ask about ferrets, but no, they don't like dogs.

What? Yup. The board is older and we are younger and they've yet to catch up with the times. So the rationalization began....'we don't really want a dog, right?' We could be happy without a dog for the next....7-10 years. We could get one at our next place. And with the notion that it wasn't going to happen...we had to say goodbye. (Tear).

We saw a few more places...one on prospect park west that was beautiful. The problem is and was that despite also being in our price range and also having the right price tag...despite being right next to the park (and i mean LITERALLY right next to the park) was that it lacked the Brooklyn feel. it lacked that special quality that makes Brooklyn Brooklyn. It kind of felt like being on Central Park West. Now while in about twenty years the future Mittfarbs might find that appealing...right now we want the authentic Brooklyn feel. And we're not ready to settle. We want our Brownstone, damnit! (And our little dog too!)

The most important thing is we left Park Slope feeling more sure than ever that this is the place we want to end up. And b/c we can extend our lease as needed, we don't have to settle for anything less than exactly what we want. Huzzah!

After a long day, we went home and drowned our sorrows in a healthy turkey meat loaf (Of course A made her own dinner of pumpkin soup, quinoa, millet, and tofu). If you're asking yourself why it looks like a giant overcooked brownie with tomato sauce and cheese on top, well that's b/c I've never cooked it before. But it was good.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Slackers

Ok, rather than assault you with a litany of our excuses (Amanda traveling, Matt starting new job) of why we failed to give detailed explanation of our visitation to Brooklyn last week, we will say that we fell in love with Brooklyn.


So much that at this moment, we are dropping Queens from our list (although not entirely, just for the moment), and focusing on Brooklyn, or more for that matter, Park slope.

I think we both fell in love with the neighborhood, the non-city feel. We dug the vibe, the crowds and even yes, the baby strollers. (No, A’s not pregnant, and neither am I for that matter). We really enjoyed the side streets, the ‘affordable’ brown stones and everything.

The only thing we aren’t completely sure of at this moment is the commute, as we came down via car, so this weekend we are going to about 800 open houses and we’ll take the subway.

(Editors note: A has informed me that we are going to 8 open houses, not the 800 aforementioned number above).

So we promise to return on Sunday with a full recap, pics, and hopefully some video.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Rant: Co-Broke this!

Matt here.
Today we went to Brooklyn and will have full details soon. In the meantime, here is a rant that has been sticking in my head all night:


Look, I'm all for abbreviations. I love Soho (South of Houston), love the term SoHA even more (South of Harlem). and I Get the fun of using shorter scripts for texting and online, it saves space, and gets your point across faster (despite the fact that when someone writes LOL or LMAO every time i make an online joke, even when it's not THAT funny, makes me think people are getting lazy instead of letting me know I've actually made a funny. What's worse is that it ruins my standards so I think I'm being funny even when I am not). But i have to draw the line tonight when I met a girl who works in real estate and used the term "Co-Broke." Now perhaps this is actually a true real-estate term and I'll feel silly later for even going this route, but it seemed completely lazy and kind of valleyish to use the term Co-broke. You've already gone so far as to enunuciate broke....what's so hard in just saying broker. Anyone who is over 30 will appreciate hearing that you are intelligent and didn't go to school at Hudson Valley Community College (No disrespect if you went there, i'm sure it's a great place). It's like I get annoyed when people say 'for reals' or 'delish.' it's one thing to say it in jest, and know you are kind of making a mockery and being playful and self-aware, and another when it's how you actually speak.

All I'm saying boys and girls is, take the time to say broker. Co-broker sounds more professional and that you know what you are doing. Jesus, maybe I'm getting older or growing up, but when it comes to real estate, I want to know that my broker knows what he's talking about. I am okay if he's a little goofy looking, nerdy with glasses and a little padding. My marketing guy should look slick, but that's another story.

OK, rant over. Good night, and good riddance.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

For Your Entertainment

Not much news to report other than we are venturing down to Park Slope this weekend. Should be interesting as Amanda and I are taking Amanda's parents with us to check out the area and meet with a real estate agent. Curious to see if they will act differently with them around then us neophytes out on our own.

Speaking of real estate agents...For your enjoyment, here's a preview of a movie all about real estate. It looks like its done by the people who did reno 911 or at least the actors...Enjoy!

video

Monday, October 8, 2007

There's always Detroit

http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20071007/us_nm/detroit_housing_dc

BKLYN

I've decided to post something since it's been awhile since our last recap. We are currently working with a Brooklyn broker and a Queens broker, and this Saturday is dedicated to Brooklyn. As posted earlier, I had a sobering conversation with the Brooklyn agent about what we can and cannot afford, and we'll have the opportunity to see some things on Saturday. I'm really looking forward to it, since I think Matt and I might enjoy brooklyn more than queens. But you never know!
We also have to think about getting prequalified for a mortgage, which seems like a headache, and which my mom says is like "a full time job," but luckily we have a family friend in the business who will help us.
So, we're still sticking to a moving date of March, but we realize that we wont settle on anything less than fabulous, and if we have to extend the lease, that's what will happen. We have an amazing rental now, in the perfect location, and to stay there a little longer isn't the bad. We will definitely wait to find the perfect home!

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

No hope for Park Slope?

I just had a pretty depressing talk with our Elliman agent. It was the first time we've really spoken, and he's really great, straightforward and honest. I had written him an email last week about what we are looking for, our budget, where we'd like to live. At the beginning of our discussion, he basically told me that we couldn't afford what we were looking for in Brooklyn. I had mentioned Park Slope and Fort Greene as 2 areas we loved, and he said that there is not much in our price range.
He told me to be wary, that when listings say Park Slope, most of them are on the fringes of the area, a good distance from the center of the neighborhood and not close to many subways. He thought that Clinton Hill would be a good bet for us, but of course he is going to look everywhere.
Well, that was a pretty sobering conversation. But I am still optimistic that we will find the right match for us. There is still Queens to take a stab at as well. If we lived in Binghamton, we could have a triplex!!!!!!!!

Monday, October 1, 2007

Astoria: No. Ohm: Yes


As you read below, the Mr and I had a great time in Forest Hills. Since catching the apartment bug, we wanted to see everything and anything. We read about an open house in Astoria at the Windsor, and were psyched to go. We don't know that much about Astoria, but it's a quick jaunt on the N or W train near our offices and thought we'd take a look on a nice Monday eve.


However, I just checked out curbed.com about the property, and there was NOTHING good about the building. Reviewers who went to the property said it was shotty construction, in a crappy, "nasty," location, and a "fugly" building taboot (love the word fugly)


So, Matt and I have decided to NOT go to Astoria tonight to view this property, trading it for a lovely evening of Bikram yoga together. The couple that apartment hunts, and sweats together, stays together!
PS. If anyone knows where to look in Astoria, please let us know! It's so convenient to my midtown Manhattan life!

Forest Hills: Visitation Rights









So after all the hub-bub, and the planning for our first real venture into apartment hunting, we set our sights on Forest Hills, or “Fohi” as the kids are calling it these days.

A little background to the story: Saturday night we went to a friend’s 30th birthday party where I (Matt) ‘enjoyed’ the salmon with lobster mashed potatoes. Actually, only eating a few bites because it tasted funny, (after the wait staff mysteriously forgot to give me meal under the confusion that since I went to the bathroom, they thought I left the restaurant, instead of the fact that if a chair is empty it means a person will eventually return), I found myself up at 2 am, sick to my stomach and violating our bathroom.

So it was with exhaustion (and possible dehydration) that we hopped on the F train (since the E wasn’t running that weekend, not a huge deal, since it is only an extra 10 blocks from our apartment, but still something to take note of). Twenty minutes later we found ourselves in Forest Hills.

What was our first impression?

video

At first glance, there was something wonderful about Forest Hills. We loved the trees, and were happy to see that just like Manhattan, they were not immune to the street fairs.










The place was nice, but in full disclosure, we did not feel "drawn" to it, as some other people did. Still, we agreed to check everything out and give it a shot.

I'm a huge of entourage and the career of Vinny Chase, (the Mrs. has yet to see it, but we won't hold that against her) the first thing I wanted to do was check out Queens BLVD. Interestingly enough the major artery of Forest hills is remarkably similar looking to Central Avenue in Westchester.










The fascinating thing we found about Forest Hills is how quickly the look and feel of it can change. We walked down past the train station and found ourselves in Forest Hills Gardens, which was by far our favorite part. We loved the trees, the cobblestone streets, even the interestingly named corners and avenues. (See below). We viewed an apartment in a beautiful building but were disappointed to find the master bathroom to be the size of the men's room at the port authority. That being said, if an apartment came along in the right price (it's hard to find a 2 bedroom in our range and they don't stay on the market long), we could be interested.











There is definitely more to tell, including our visit to what can without a doubt be named the most disgusting apartment in the history of New York City. We will leave it alone other than offering that Amanda broke out in a violent allergy attack and we had to call an emotional counselor to cope with the smell, decor and wood paneling.

Now the pros and cons:

PROS
1. easy commute
2. Trees and nature!
3. Beautiful gardens area, can picture raising a family there
4. Affordable 2 BDRMs for us
5. Mixture of ethnic backgrounds
6. Slower pace
7. Apartments are large and spacious
8. Big kitchens, some with terraces
9. Great "cottage living" in the gardens
10. Rumor mill has Trader Joes moving to the area.
CONS
1. Older prewar apartments have "interesting" configurations
2. Many need renovations (in our budget?)
3. FoHi Gardens out of our budget, and not many 2bdrm apts
4. Not many condos, and many co-ops require 25-35% down, and maintenance of well over $1000 a month (up to $1800 we saw)
5. NO PETS in most buildings...this is MAJOR for us
6. "hip" factor not as present as we thought
7. Concern of feeling isolated from friends and family.

Overall feeling: While we really enjoyed fohi, we weren't magnetically drawn to it. We walked Everywhere, and visited a number of apartments and areas. We loved the gardens, and would move to a fabulous apartment there in no time, but they don't come up that often. We loved the easy commute and Austin Street, and got a real sense of community. That said, we didn't leave saying "We have to live here now!" The no pets issue is a big problem, as we have family dogs now and we will be getting a pet in the near future. There *were* lots of grannies around, too, but also definitely young families, which was a plus (we liked the mix of people). Interestingly enough, our favorite apartment was our friend's duplex rental on the corner of Austin & Yellowstone. it was just what we would be looking for!

SO, all in all, we had a great day, and will be back looking at more in the area. We're not done with you, Forest Hills. We'll also be looking in Astoria and LIC. This weekend we will be away, but next weekend we'll go to Park Slope with the family and look at some apartments then!