Monday, March 31, 2008

Closing engagement

So we heard from our lawyer on Friday that we have our closing date, April 28th. (It’s a Monday…what a great way to start the week, right?)

This is good news. This means the end is nigh, well at least part 1. Who is to say when we enter phase 2, otherwise known as construction, how long that will actually take? Hopefully, June won’t run into July.

We’re going down on the 12th with our contractor to see the apartment one more time, and get a clearer idea of what we are actually going to do. From here, I think we’ll get an estimate of how much it might all cost, and then I’ll have to talk with the board to find out the process of getting approval from them to do the renovations. I’m sure that’s a headache in itself as well, but one thing at a time.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

in lieu of any news

we are waiting to find out our closing date and final mortgage rate but in the meantime...

here's one way to build the house of your dreams...

Monday, March 17, 2008


Short and sweet.

We're in.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Today's Meet and Greet

So after what felt like months of waiting, Amanda and I finally had our board meeting today. Like most experiences, it was kind of surreal, since 90% of your day to day is routine and doesn’t have as much impact as a meeting like this does.

We had to be in Brooklyn at 9:30 in the morning and wanted to be sure there were no hiccups, so we woke up pretty early. Like 6:45…on a Sunday. Luckily, we had taken it easy the night before, both falling asleep around 11pm. Ok, that’s not entirely true. We tried to go to sleep early but I could barely sleep.

I had spent a little bit of time talking with my broker about what and what not to say during the interview. We knew that we shouldn’t ask too much about things being fixed or our renovation ideas and just make sure we knew our financial information through and through. So we were feeling fairly confident going into the meeting, and I was very calm, up until about ten minutes before we go there, when I gave my broker a call. Just like before a big presentation, my head went blank, and I feared that most of my logical thought out responses were being sent to the back of my brain. That and I had just had a large cup of coffee.

The meeting was at our apartment building, which we hadn’t seen since we went with our contractor to check it out a few months ago. Luckily, not much had changed. We buzzed in and were greeted by the owners of the apartment 2, who were very nice and welcoming. They had bought into the building this past August and were relatively new; a young couple who appeared to be in their thirties. We also met the other neighbors: a couple (presumably in their 50’s) who lived on the top floor, and a woman who lived on the bottom floor. Everyone seemed affable and welcoming.

They had gotten coffee and bagels, but of course Amanda and I had already eaten so we got to talking. They first asked us how we ended up at the apartment. I said something that I don’t know if it made sense, but Amanda jumped in and told this beautiful story of looking around at different apartments, and searching until we finally settled on Brooklyn. When they asked how we knew we wanted to live in this building I told them the truth: It was kismet. From the moment we walked in to the apartment we could see ourselves living there. It was just a very powerful, visceral experience, and something that everyone else smiled and understood. We felt pretty good.

The meeting went really well. They asked us a few questions about being prepared “God forbid one of you gets hit by a bus” and if we are planning to get homeowners insurance. This was a fair question when you have a building with only 4 units. “Yes,” we answered, “we want to be prepared.”

We talked about our interests, our love of animals (I was this close to saying I hated cats, but caught myself thankfully), and our enthusiasm for moving to Brooklyn. They didn’t ask us about any plans for renovations, and were very forthcoming about the way the building operates. The interesting thing is that the building is very self-managed…they try to do things in-house as much as possible rather than have someone come in and fix things. This means they built their own deck on the roof, they sand doors and polish and stuff. They asked if we were handy (which we’re not), but we told them the truth, and that we were willing to learn. And willing to help. I feel that it could potentially be a good experience for the future when we buy our own house down the line.

We finished up the meeting after about 50 minutes, saying goodbye, and not having once to delve into our giant 15-pound bound notebook that contained all our financial files. Luckily, they had been very proactive in asking all the questions ahead of time so it really was a meet and greet.

Despite the informal nature of the interview, we realize it was in fact, still an interview, so despite everyone else wearing jeans and t-shirts, we’re glad we came dressed nicely.

This was a long entry, but hopefully tells the story well.

We should be hearing back very soon with the board’s decision.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Tips for your co-op interview

Thanks to Abbey, our guest poster for today!

List of things not to do during your interview:
1. Burp
2. Fart
3. Curse
4. Ask to keep their pen
5. smell your underarms
6. Take off your shoes
7. Put your feet up on the table
8. smoke
9. pick your nose
10. reach for something in your ear
11. bite your nails
12. punch each other
13. talk about how cool your surround sound stereo is
14. eat
15. search for belly button lint

Monday, March 10, 2008

Closing in.

Well what seemed like was never going to happen, is finally going to happen: Our broker e-mailed us yesterday and informed us that the board met on Saturday and is ready to meet us for our interview. Huzzah!

While there appear to be a few outstanding issues, overall the board was happy with our application and barring any unfortunate surprises, we should get our approval hopefully early next week. It would be shocking not to get approved at this point. That and the fact that we no longer have our own apartment could really gum things up…

Jesus…an interview? They (and I mean the proverbial ‘they,’ this is a list culled quickly by typing in co-op interview into google) say to treat the co-op interview like a job interview: be professional, dress appropriately, don’t be too informal, and don’t make jokes. They say to not elaborate on questions. Don't ask THEM questions. Don’t talk about any construction you are going to do. Keep it brief. Don’t ask if they are going to redo the lobby (because for all you know they just completed the lobby) and if you're a couple, know who is going to answer what.

It’s pretty wild, awe-inspiring, and I guess a little scary. But I think we will be fine.
Before we even get there, I have to craft a letter addressing a few questions they had, and then we’ll have a chat with our broker prior to our meeting to get our story straight and find out the best way to handle it.

A little while back we found out the co-op had asked us if had life insurance or were planning on getting it. Realizing it would be a smart move; Amanda and I have begun the process of getting insured. It’s a bit weird to think about dying, but it also is comforting to know you will leave behind something for your loved one. The oddest part is it all begins with a telephone interview, where they ask you a million questions ranging from your family health history, to how many drinks you have a week (say none, say none!) to whether you’ve ever smoked a cigarette or marijuana (never of course!) to even how often you go to the gym. Then comes the medical interview, where they test your blood and all that good stuff. That comes soon.

The other thing on our agenda is to go down with our contractor to the apartment and figuring out a plan of attack for when we move in. Knowing we are going to redo the bathroom and maybe move the laundry machines will most likely require permits, and that being the case we want to get them prior to starting work. We’d hate to get delayed b/c we didn’t think things through. But I guess if there’s one thing this anal couple does, is think things through.

Thankfully, for the male counterpart of this couple, this part of the journey is almost at a close. Soon we will get approval, leaving me just with procuring home owners insurance, finalizing life insurance, and getting our mortgage over with, and then it’s Amanda’s turn. Not that I’m opposed to decorating and design…it’s just better for…well the world if I don’t.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Not to be confused with...

So while we still wait to hear about our co-op interview date we found out from our mortgage broker that the federal government is going to be changing the conforming limits of mortgage loans.

Your probably asking yourself what a conforming loan is and why this is important to know.

I’ll try and prevent this one from making your head explode.

Basically, there are two types of home loans: Conforming, and Jumbo. They are defined by the amount for which your loan is for. A loan is ‘conforming’ when it conforms to national standards and guidelines. They are secured by government sponsored entities such as Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. (I don’t know if Fannie is related to Sallie Mae, who gave me my student loans).

Conforming loans are much simpler, and typically come with a lower interest rate. As of 2006, the limit within the continental United States for a conforming loan was $417,000.

Of course anyone living in New York knows that if you want an apartment bigger than a closet, then you’ll probably be paying more than $417,000. Which means you’d probably have a jumbo mortgage.

A jumbo mortgage is a mortgage with a loan above the national standard and are not funded by government sponsored entities. Because of this, they carry more risk, and usually incur a higher interest rate and additional underwriting requirements.

For most New Yorkers, (and in the current situation, us) this is just one of those things you’ll have to eat, unless you have extra money to put down a larger down payment to lower the overall amount of your mortgage. That or you’re willing to move to an area with lower property values.

But now that might change. . In February, Bush signed an economic stimulus package that temporarily increases the conforming limit to $729,750 until at least December 31 of this year. Next week congress will meet to make this an official law. This is huge and great news for us as (while I’m not telling you our loan amount), we should now most certainly fall under the new limits and have ourselves a beautiful conforming loan. This could mean a savings of hundreds of dollars each month.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Floor Plan

While there's nothing new to report just yet...check out the CAD drawing of our floor plan. It's not labeled, but te top part is the living room facing out to the street.

Monday, March 3, 2008

The real victims

(not my bedspread or actual box)

Amanda went away skiing this weekend, leaving me alone with her mom. Now while that might be cause for therapy in and of itself, that experience was not that bad. I am proud to say that I have a great relationship with both of my in-laws, and I quickly learned the rule of the jungle which is that ‘so long as you do all the little things that keep your in-laws happy,” existence isn’t that bad.

That being said, I can safely say that I am definitely doing the little things: keeping the toilet seat down, putting dishes into the dishwasher, keeping everything off the floor in my room.

But now let’s talk about the real victim in this move: my play station 3.

I know what you’re saying, poor Matt, he can’t hook up his playstation 3. But here’s the thing, it’s very lonely and feeling neglected. When we were getting ready to move, I sold all my playstation 2 video game accessories to game stop, and got a nice credit of about $300. I thought I would get cash, but they sucker you in and give you only store credit their so I HAD to buy something…and I ended up with a PS3. I told myself that not only was I getting a new video game system that I don’t need, but I’m getting a blu-ray DVD player that I don’t need too! Well I got to play and have fun and enjoy it in my last apartment.

But thus far, it has not been so. While Amanda was away, I can say that I have dedicated roughly 3-4 hours to trying to find a way to set this puppy up on her dad’s HDTV. Normally it wouldn’t be a problem…I’d plug it in with what we call an HDMI cord. The only problem is that he already uses it in a DVD player, and to get it into mine, I’d have to unplug it and place it precariously on a drawer, which means this $400 piece of equipment would be hanging at an odd angle, ready to plummet to its death at any moment. The horror. That and I don’t think her father would appreciate coming home to see my frankensteining of his beloved TV system.

So I tried everything: tried to get it to work through the cable system, the vcr, the sound system, nothing worked. I even moved the TV back and tried to plug in through the old tried and true audio/visual cables. Nothing.

You are probably wondering why I was so intent on getting this to work. Well first off, I am a big dork. Secondly, I had bought the Lost video game (you read that correctly) and was excited that I would have lots of time to play since I would be on own. (Let’s be honest, when you’re married you don’t have the free time like you used to). So it was a bit disappointing not to be able to play.

Oh well, boo hoo!

But fret not, I did find a solution, a way to get two HDMI inputs so I can have my ps3 set up. I think. Time will tell when the aforementioned solution arrives in the mail. And all I can hope for is that my solution doesn’t upset the general order of the things in the household.