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Wednesday, October 30, 2013

The Timeless Appeal of the Black and White Bathroom

There is something classic, classy and timelessly appealing about a black and white bathroom. 

I have a few decisions to make. Help me, if you will, by sharing your opinion in comments.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Linden Court Fixer Upper

I received a Zillow alert this week on a 2-BR fixer upper in Jackson Heights for an unbelievable $219k.

 3759 84th St APT 32, Jackson Heights NY 11372
Photo: Zillow
Unbelievable, because when I track the address in Streeteasy, it turns out this apartment is located in the lovely Linden Court. Linden Court is one of my favorite prewar co-ops in all of Jackson Heights for it's gorgeous oversize windows. It's credited with being the first co-op built in the neighborhood in 1921, when both light and air flow were considered essential to good health and architects paid attention to such things.

Photo: Zillow

The unit does need a substantial amount of work, judging by the photos (the tile laid over the hard wood floors is in my opinion, criminal). But at $219 per sq ft and with that amazing wall of windows in the livingroom, this apartment has big Renov8or appeal.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

1940s Bathroom: In Praise of Subway Tile

We are closing in on our purchase of our new home in Jackson Heights! On Friday I received the mortgage commitment, so the next step will be our interview with the co-op board.

Today I am sitting at the computer assembling all the financial information that the co-op board has requested. Well, that's what I'm supposed to be doing. What I am really doing is flipping through bathroom photos on Pinterest and Houzz.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

What Can Go Wrong at a Real Estate Closing on a Co-op

We're closed!

But we almost weren't. New York real estate closings are highly charged events. Just getting all the lawyers in one room is a challenge. You've got the lawyer for the seller (me) and the lawyer for the buyer and the lawyer for the buyer's lender and a closer for the seller's lender as well as the co-op board's managing agent.

Each person sitting at the table has a checklist. So, there's always a chance that something will turn up missing from someone's checklist. Guess what was missing from mine?

Last Friday I had to race out of work at 4:00pm and rush from Manhattan to Brooklyn to pick up the stock certificate for my apartment.  Over the weekend I had to make the rounds and collect the signatures of two of my co-op board members - the board president and the board secretary.  Luckily I have served on my board and I am friendly with these two people, so I was able to catch them over the weekend and complete my mission.

Is this the job of the seller? No.

Is this the responsibility of the seller? No.

But is there anyone who cares more than the seller that the closing happen forthwith? No.

So I stepped up. Sometimes you just have to break through to get things moving.

At today's closing, the stock certificate was all in order. However, the show stopper became the Aztec Agreement, also referred to as the Recognition Agreement. It is the document that the bank draws up to give its lien the first priority over the co-op's lien in case the shareholder defaults and it must be signed by the buyer, the buyer's lender, and members of the co-op board. It's a document that the mortgage bank sends to the buyer very early in the process, and it is subsequently one that often gets lost.

Note to self: Hang on to the recognition agreements for your purchase. When you have to turn them over to the board, know who has them, and track them.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Mad for Midcentury

Our new home was built in the 1940s, so I am getting inspired by this midcentury decor. I want the walls to be a warm oaky yellow. With red and coral accents. 

I fall asleep at night not reading books for my book club but searching Pinterest for mid-century inspiration.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Yes, You Can Sell Your Own Home FSBO!

I am closing on my sale in a week!

We've met all the major milestones for me to be able to say with confidence that my FSBO has been a complete success. Here is what I did to get the best price for my home. You can do it too.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Real Estate Closings Are Taking Longer Than Ever!

It's been a while since my last post. For once I had a summer without projects. That's right, we spent the summer biking, BBQing, and beach sitting. And it was lovely!

Truth be told, our little cottage could use a new roof, and come next spring it will get one. But what's really keeping me in thrall these days are my Carroll Gardens sale and my Jackson Heights purchase.

The sale is in the home stretch. (Ba-dump-bump.)

The buyer has been approved by the board. The bank has all they need. The subletters are moving out when their lease ends at the end of the month. I wish I could tell you that we have a closing date locked in, but we do not.

The buyer has been trying his best to wrangle all the lawyers since his board approval August 28th. Yes - almost a full month of lawyers comparing calendars and shrugging.

What gives?

And my purchase is going even slower. It took two months from my offer date to get all the due diligence documents in. I still don't know what the hold up was. Was it possible it was all due to August vacations?

Then I went into my lawyers office to sign the contract, check in hand, only to find that the seller's lawyer had never sent it!

So I'm heading back tomorrow a second time on my lunch hour -- hoping this is it.

At this rate I am estimating we won't be in the new place until December -- make that January if we run into holidays.

Bah humbug!

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Another Steal in Jackson Heights - 2BR+2BA Asks $259k!

If I hadn't just found our new home, I'd have to go have a look at this one that just listed a 10% reduction off what was already an astonishingly low price for an 1100 sq ft corner apartment with three exposures!

If you can look past the terrible listing photos (seller, clean up that clutter; agent, get a decent camera!), this apartment has great potential.

This price-reduced apartment certainly needs some work. Rip up those carpets to expose hardwood floors. Paint and plaster. Update the kitchen (not pictured, so it must need work).

But with a list price of $259k now, you've earned your renovation budget.

The only negatives: Some might balk at the first floor or at the rather high maintenance at $1100.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Moving From "Hip" Carroll Gardens to Jackson Heights


Yes, friends, we have found "the one". We made an offer on an apartment today and it was accepted!

It is a 2 BR in Jackson Heights, where I think Ross and I will be very happy. For half the price, no, one-third the price of a Carroll Gardens 2 BR we are getting 1100 square feet in a full-service building, with a super and porters, with a door man and garage - yes parking in the building!

It is a bit of a fixer upper. That photo above is actually the same apartment two floors down, already renovated. It gives you an idea of how lovely ours will be when I get through with it. The one we are buying looks like this right now:

Friday, June 14, 2013

My Carroll Gardens FSBO Gets Multiple Bids!

Credit: David Castillo/Blue Barn Picture

I'm selling my home! As you know, I moved in with Ross two years ago and sublet my Brooklyn co-op apartment.

So, how has that been going, being a landlord and all?

My experience has been mostly positive. My tenants paid the rent on time and in exchange, when something was wrong I jumped to fix it. That's the contract, right? If everyone just follows this, isn't life sweet? I did have to keep their deposit, however. Unfortunately, their dog left puddles on the hardwood floors that I guess no one cleaned up. The wood was blackened in several prominent spots. You might think I could just have the floors sanded and refinished. But that wouldn't have fixed them. (Read: Repairing Pet Damage to Hardwood Floors.)

Anyway, if you recall I put my place on the market in May. Well, not even a week later I found my listing written up on Curbed: Charming Carroll Gardens 1BR Seeks $550K in FSBO Attempt. With commenters conjecturing on the market value of the place as well as my capability to sell it myself.

The comments ranged from extremely complimentary about the place to, well... kinda hater, like most comments sections.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Paint Tip: Freeze Brushes Between Coats

I painted quite a bit when I was a kid. My dad always had a home renovation project going on, and we kids were his assistants. One of the jobs I really disliked was cleaning paint brushes. No matter how much water I ran through the brushes, there was always paint coming through and it seemed like hours before the water ran clear. And don't even get me started on the oil-based paints! (Turpentine, yuk!)

I used to say that when I became a grownup I would throw away my used brushes and start with a fresh one when I resumed painting. For years as a young adult, I actually did do that. And I'm not talking cheapo paint brushes. These were Purdy's at $10 a pop. That's how much I dislike cleaning brushes.

Now that I'm a homeowner - and a better money manager - I can't bring myself to spend hundreds of dollars on brushes every time I get the urge to change a room's color (which is often). So here's what I do.