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Showing posts from 2013

Right Building, Wrong Apartment

A few days ago, I met with my attorney and we had a discussion about the two bedroom property that I made an offer on in October.  While he agreed that the space was good and the price was not bad, he was concern that the coop was being mismanaged. I have had some of the same concerns as well. I had been doing some reach online and the feedback has not been positive. I observed documents on Trulia, Zillow and Streeteasy that shows that in 2008 and 2009, at the height of the economic downturn, the property values on the cooperative started to nose dive. Then banks started to refuse mortgage applications for the building. The coops has yet to recover and the prices have continued their downward slide. Another pressing concern was that the coop has not properly budgeted for needed repairs and expenses. In 2012, The building had a operating cost of $6.4 million dollars but had only budgeted for $6 million. That means that the cooperative is operating at a loss. My attorney said that for a…

Gentrified Brooklyn

I know I haven't posted in a while but really there just haven't been much progress to report. We still haven't signed the contract as yet. My attorney continues to be concerned about the cooperative. He's actually reviewing the minutes from the cooperative board meetings tomorrow ( we want to ensure that the cooperative has a plan to increase the money in their reserves). As I've stated sometime ago, I'm disheartened that we haven't closed on a property as yet. I feel that now would be a great time to buy a home in Brooklyn, but I feel that I'm being priced out of the market. Gentrification is a term that's floated around quiet a lot, and it is nice too see a new restaurant, wine bar, yoga studio or gourmet supermarket moving into a neighborhood. However, it's maddening when the original neighborhood occupants can't afford to continue to reside in the area.

Switching Mortgage Lenders

I think that in my last post, I prematurely wrote about taking a break from the property search. Yes, this has been a stressful time. While the feeling was genuine, it isn't a true reflection of where I am in the process.  I have been in this property search for sometime now and at this stage, I'm almost desperate to get to closing. I'm tired of attending open houses. I'm tired of  putting my search criteria in Streeteasy and Trulia and somehow hoping that the results will be different.  Though I was reluctant to search for yet another mortgage lender, I had to do just that.  It had all happened out of my curiosity and frustration that I walked into a  bank and asked to speak to a loan officer. It was free and didn't require a commitment. I told the loan officer about my concerns and the trials of the last several months. Then I asked about the cooperative that I made the offer on. And to my surprise he knew it well. He had just close on an apartment in that buildi…

Calling Timeout on The Property Search

Yesterday was Election Day here in New York, so I got the day off work. The day off give me the opportunity to reflect on the last several months and after serious consideration, I have come to the conclusion that perhaps I need to take a break from my property search.  I’m disappointed to have to end the search but I feel like I’m not able to find what I want, in the neighbor that I want, at a price I can afford. It is the first time in this long drawn out process that I have ever considered taking an “hiatus”.  Yesterday, I spoke to my loan officer, about the most recent property that I made on offer on. The bank continues to have concerns regarding the financials of this cooperative and is in doubt that the mortgage will get approved. Despite us requesting documents from the coop, we have yet to receive them. I plan to meet with my attorney today to discuss all of this.

House Search Status

I wanted to quickly update about the status of my housing search. If you’re a frequent reader to this blog, you shouldn’t be too surprise that there are still more obstacles to overcome.  Barriers are a constant presence in this home buying process.

My current mortgage company has concerns about the cooperative and may not approve the mortgage. Why me? I first thought. But after I spoke to my loan officer and received a copy of the building’s financials, I too became alarmed. My loan officer was concerned that the last two mortgage applications for the building were denied. The loan officer contacted the underwriter on both properties and found that there were concerns about how the cooperative was spending the monthly maintenance. Let’s just say 2011 was a dire year for this cooperative. 2012 was a lot better; however 2013 was not yet available for us to view. We all want to be reassured that this apartment purchase would be a wise investment. The loan officer has requested that the c…

Apartment Hunting 2

The last few days have been so busy that I'm not quite sure where to begin. Firstly, I have been apartment shopping again and this weekend, my friend Dominique and I went to three open houses. Dominique has a great eye and was able to catch problems and expenses that I didn't notice at first sight. The first place we saw was on a quiet block of homes and close to transportation. It appealed to me because of its location. It’s a quiet tree-line block, surrounded by residential homes and in a borough like booming gentrified Brooklyn, that’s a rarity. The apartment was a two bedroom that had a nice layout. The owner had a very interesting design style and a color palette. Crown molding in all the rooms.  The kitchen was a small galley with cherry wood cabinets, stainless steel appliances and dark Formica counter tops that mimicked the look of granite. There were some other updates as well, like the custom book shelves and custom wood cover for the radiator and AC units.  What can…

Apartment Hunting

I have been looking at coop apartments again but I find myself comparing them to the place with the balcony and skyline view of Manhattan. I just want this apartment search to be over already. When I wrote my apartment must have list, I wrote that I wanted a two bedroom cooperative or condominium with a updated kitchen, close to public transportation. That was it really, a small list. I never dream of a balcony, then. Now of course I'm looking for a balcony. Over the weekend I saw a two bedroom apartment in walking distance to the contracted apartment. It was ok, I guess. it had decent amount of space and natural light from every room. The kitchen cabinets were outdated and dark but they were wood and the appliances were white. The price was reasonable too. I should have been excited but I wasn't. It just didn't have that wow factor that the first place had. I couldn't picture myself living there.

Back To Searching

One thing about me, I’m an eternal optimist. I’m always looking for a positive resolution to any problem. Always looking for the bright side of things. So much so that even after a decidedly chaotic day at work, someone said “I don’t know how you’re holding up with all of this”. I didn’t scream. I didn’t yell. I just get on with things.And so this week after the coop board rejected my application, I didn’t grimace. I didn’t cry and I didn’t yell. Instead I did what I normally do, I carried on. I was disappointed to say the least, but there was also this overwhelmed since of relief. Almost as if the dark cloud that hung over this coop deal from day one had disappeared. We went into contact in June. And there were many delays to secure a mortgage commitment and I had to switch lenders. I thought the coop would finally be mine. I was certain of it. I had already begun to decorate in my mind. I had chosen paint colors and patterns and planned parties with my friends and family.After heari…

Coop Board Interview Completed

Yesterday I had my coop board interview. I arrived approximately 30 minutes before the appointment time and waited in the lobby where I met my potential neighbor Petra who was anxiously waiting with her real estate agent.  Like me, Petra is a first time home buyer. Petra stated that she was in contract on a two bedroom  similar to my apartment with the only exception being the bathroom, hers is pink, mine is blue. Like me Petra was denied a mortgage commitment from HSBC because of concerns that she "works off the books." Petra is paying for her home in cash. She stated that she is ferocious saver. She was so lovely that I was routing for her to get accepted. There was a third person waiting to be interviewed, but she did not engage us in conversation. In fact, she stood at the far end of the lobby with her headphones in her ear and her iphone in her hand.  Petra was interviewed first while I waited in the lobby, I logged her absence at 13 minutes. When she returned she was s…

What questions will I be asked at the coop board interview?

I have my coop board interview today and I would be less than honest if I said that I was not feeling some anxiety surrounding this. It's scheduled for 8 o clock tonight.  Still, what can they possible ask in this interview that I haven't already been asked on the lengthy application? The coop  packaged, submitted several  months ago, required that I write a lengthy essay, filed out a questionnaire, got two reference letters, two years tax returns and W2, bank statements and pay stubs. I was talking to my friend Dominique about this and when she was applying for her apartment, a rental, she too was subjected to an interview. Dominique was asked if she owned any pets and what she likes to do in her spare time? Odd as this questions were already asked on the application. Dominique felt that I should give conservative responses to any question asked. What do you like to do in your spare time? I like to read and travel sounds better than I like to listen to music or have a bunch o…

Coop Board Interview Scheduled

A few days ago I received a copy of the appraisal of the property. It was 24 pages long. It is a detailed report on the property and includes comparable information about similar properties in the area that have sold recently.  Two of the comparable were in the same building as my apartment, however they had smaller square footage and only one of them had a balcony.  Of the five comparables, my apartment had the largest square footage. I was surprised that the appraisal was so detailed. It even included the floor plan for the apartment. Though we have been referring to the coop as a two bedroom, according to the floor plan, it's actually a one bedroom apartment with a den/dining room. I always thought the layout was a bit odd, but once I read the report, it all made perfect sense.  The balcony is attached to the second bedroom/den and not accessible through the living room. The apartment was built in the 1950's and each room is a throwback to that era. The bathroom is a time c…

Defining My Style

Enjoying a nice cool Sunday here in Brooklyn, thinking that in a matter of weeks I will be in my first place. It’s nice to see a long held goal/dream come to fruition. I’m feeling grateful and, dear I say it, happy. While my mind is still in home buying mode, it's shifting a bit to home decorating and I’ve been trying to define my style. One thing I realized is that I’m not a "modern" style person. The modern style just seems so cold to me.
I like warmth. I like colors. I want to be comfortable. I’ve looking at Google images and what I found is that gray wall colors aren’t so bad. I thought at first that grays were dull but changed my mind once I saw these beautifully decorated spaces.  I love the pop of yellow throughout this home. And the gray sofa is beautiful.via

Appraisal Completed

My attorney emailed my former HSBC loan officer to notify her that I got a mortgage commitment. I think my attorney was trying to be teasing and show her in a “you did not approve us but someone else did” kind of way. When I read his email, I laughed and was filled with glee. I was surprise however when the HSBC loan officer responded congratulating me. But most surprising perhaps was the line in her email that read, “Please consider HSBC when you purchase your next home”. Yeah when pigs fly. Of course I did not respond.

I also had to contact the community organization that assisted me with a down payment for the coop. My assistance program is set to expire on 9/20/13.So we needed to act on this really fast. All of this could have been avoided had I not considered HSBC as my lender initially. My HSBC loan officer was incompetent and like I have stated before, she deliberately held up the loan process. But hindsight is 50/50.
Moving forward, today I was informed that the appraisal was c…

Commitment Letter and Appraisal

Today, I got news that I've been waiting for for several months.  I finally got a mortgage commitment letter!  When I got the congratulatory email today there was this sense of I don't know, joy and sadness at the same time. I wanted to scream from the rooftop and then I wanted to cry. I'm excited but past experience has made me extremely cautious. I have always said that I don't want to focus on the negative but there is this part of me that is feeling uncertain and doubtful. A lot has happened over the last several months and it would be heartbreaking to get this far and have to be disappointed. On the other hand, it appears that everything is coming together. Yeah, finally some good news.  We have a tentative closing date of October 1, 2013. But before we get to closing I will need to be interviewed by the coop board. Thankfully I had completed my coop application package in June and the only missing document was the commitment letter, which I immediately scanned an…

How will being a homeowner impact my friendships?

Yesterday I received my mortgage denial letter from HSBC, I wouldn't bore you with the details but basically it cited my student loans as a reason for the denial. Fair enough. I was not angry.  I wasn't disappointed. I guess I just became accustomed to bad news.   And though my loan application is pending with another lender, I've been reflecting on my experiences over the last few months. There have been a lot of lessons learned along this home buying journey. One of those being that buying a home can be extremely stressful.

I had a very modest upbringingand by no means did I grow up with a silver spoon in my mouth. I grew up seeing my parents and their families working.  When they had a goal they created steps to attend that goal. Similarly I have worked hard to achieve my goal of home ownership. Anyone who has really known me over the past five years knows the sacrifices I’ve made to achieve this long held goal of being a homeowner. And as I have been documenting over th…

Commitment At Last?

I’m feeling extremely anxious.I’m nervous waiting for a mortgage commitment letter from my new lender.I guess it’s a case of once bitten twice shy but I can’t shake this feeling. I’ve felt a lot of emotions since I started this home buying journey, but this feeling is very different to any I’ve had before. It’s a type of nervousness that comes with nausea and a slight headache. I’m physically ill thinking about whether or not I will be approved for a mortgage. And the humidity here in New York isn’t helping either.

Yesterday I paid $445 for the property to be appraised (though the appraisal has not yet been scheduled). I also paid $12 for a credit check. Today I fax signed disclosure documents to the lender and now all I have to do is wait.I’m exhausted. I don’t think I’ve had a full night’s rest since the first application was denied. My loan officer believes that we will hear something back as soon as this week. My loan offers knows of my history with HSBC and has been surprisingly …

HSBC Mortgage Services Sucks!

This wasn’t the type of post that I wanted to write today. I wanted to be very upbeat and happy and tell the world that after reviewing my mortgage application again, my mortgage loan was approved by the underwriter. But unfortunately that isn’t the case.

Today, I received an email from my attorney stating that the sellers want to cancel the contract because I haven’t secured a mortgage as yet. I’m disappointed, but I understand. The sellers are eager to have this property sold as much as I’m eager to have it be mine. Now, I’m fearful that I will lose the property that it took several long months to find. No, it’s not perfect. The kitchen and bathroom are outdated but the space, location and view of the Manhattan skyline is incalculable. I have already painted and decorated and planned parties in my mind but it looks as though it wasn’t meant to be. This doesn’t mean that I’m giving up. I’m still in this fight though I have to be rea…

The Bedroom De-cluttered

I have made much progress on my de-cluttering plan from last week. Of course there were some minor setbacks when I got some bad news from the mortgage lender and I wasn’t able to concentrate on clearing the space. There were lesson learned during this process too. One of those being that my bedroom is a lived in space. It’s not perfect. I need to keep it to a level that I will be able to maintain it. I realized that I need to make a concentrated effort every day to minimize clutter. It's ongoing. If I move something I need to put it back in its original place.
I wanted to share my progress so far.
desk before desk after I was able to organize my desk but most of my desk clutter just needed to be rearranged. Nothing major here, though it looked atrocious in the original photos. I think it looks better in the after photos. (And there are no clothing on the floor.) I had already spoken about how emotional it was to get rid of old pieces of paper because some of them had sentimental val…

Mortgage Loan Follow Up

Today, I was still pretty distressed about the mortgage loan denial. But I’ve been trying to put a positive spin on things, maybe it wasn’t meant to be. As I mention yesterday, my attorney had given me the contact information for a new lender who is now reviewing my documents (2 years tax returns, pay stubs, bank statements and student loan repayment schedule and the cooperative financials). At this point, I was looking forward to my HSBC denial letter as is required. After writing that long blog post yesterday, I had mentally prepared myself for yet more bad news from HSBC. But then I was stunningly surprised by the email I receive this Evening.The email was forwarded to the loan officer from the underwriter and copied to myself and my attorney. The email states as follows, “the borrower provided a document indicating that her student loans are currently in deferment until 2015. A deferment on a student loan for more than one year indicates that the borrower is still in school. Unles…

Mortgage Loan Denied

Forgive me, as I write this post through a cake fueled haze. I’m an emotional eater. And today, well it has been an emotional rollercoaster. Where to begin? Today I was informed via email that my HSBC mortgage loan application was being denied. According to my loan officer, she was appealing that decision. Several minutes later I received a convoluted email about an unreimbursed employment expense on my 2012 tax return which would significantly decrease my income for 2012. What? I called the loan officer for an explanation.

In 2010, I attended graduate school, trying to advance my career in my field. I worked fulltime and was on a three year part-time graduate school track.I paid for the first year of school mostly out of my own savings and bi-weekly paychecks. It was a struggle. In the second year of grad school, I applied for and received a federal student loan. However the loan did not completely cover the full cost of my tuition and last year I spent $16,000 of my own hard earned …

“all good things comes to those who wait”

Is it odd that though I haven’t got a closing date, I have already chosen paint colors for my new home? Forget closing, I haven’t even gotten a mortgage commitment as yet.Like I have mentioned before, I have chosen to focus on the more positive aspects of homeownership than on the things that are out of my control, such as the underwriting process. As frustrating as the mortgage process has been, there is no doubt in my mind that I will not receive the approval. This waiting is just part of the journey.Most things now appear to be so instantaneous (we get emails and text messages on our cell phones. We can track the arrival of the buses and trains on an app) that we have become accustomed to having everything right away. But there seems to be something for that old adage, “all good things comes to those who wait” or “patience is a virtue”.I’m trying to put it all into perspective.
This morning at about 9:20 am, I received a forwarded email from my attorney regarding the lack of loan c…

De-cluttering my bedroom

Design Style, do I have one? Not unless you count clutter as a design style and judging by the state of my bedroom, yeah I have one. I’m not a minimalist. I have a lot of stuff. My bedroom, for examples, serves as both as a place to sleep and an office. It’s littered with grad school text books, stacks of paper and a desk that is so overrun with office supplies and paraphernalia that there is no space for my computer. (The computer has a permanent spot on my bed.) Naturally, I am embarrassed about this. I would rather have a more sophisticated look for the bedroom. But I’m feeling overwhelmed to begin the sorting, shredding process. 

I never expected to still be in this space. This was going to be my temporary home. The plan was to buy and move into my first home before August, but as I have been blogging over the last few weeks, I have not yet received mortgage commitment from HSBC. Frustrating yes, but made worst by the space being so cluttered. I don’t feel like my home, in the word…

The Mortgage Commitment Waiting Game

Yesterday, I received a telephone call from my attorney, who informed me that the sellers are requesting information regarding the mortgage commitment. Apparently he's getting a lot of push back from the sellers attorney. I explained that I haven't heard  from HSBC in the past week. In fact, my five telephone calls to the loan officer went unanswered. My attorney suggested that I send an email to the loan officer letting her know the urgency. I called the loan officer and to my surprise she actually answered the phone. I relied the information regarding the urgency of the matter and she agreed that my frustrations were warranted, However she says, my file was no longer with HSBC but with the underwriter. She suggested that I write an email detailing the urgency, which she would then forward to the underwriter. I wrote the email and sent it to the loan officer, copying it to my attorney. At about 8:49 pm, I received a letter from the loan officer stating that the information wa…

Furniture Shopping

One of the things I love about New York is it’s accessibility to shops.  I love window shopping, especially for furniture. Yesterday my friend Dominique and I went shopping.  We looked around Pier 1 Imports but there were nothing really that stood out or grabbed our attention. Disappointed, we wondered around the mass of people on the overcrowded street until we stumbled upon a store called Restoration Hardware.  Neither of us had been there before, so we decided to have a look. First impression, this was definitely an upscale furniture store and nothing like down-market Pier 1 Imports.  The furniture hankers back to that old Hollywood style that appealed to me. Dominique on the other hand hated it. She felt it was too over the top.  We both agreed though that the look was definitely not for apartment dwellers. The furniture was large and over-sized.   Personally I liked the upholstered headboards, the dining chairs, But it just didn't seem to fit the style of my dream first home. Als…

Another Open House

I came across these pictures today while I was deleting some files from my computer. They were taken a while ago at a open house here in Brooklyn and I thought I would share. 

If memory serves me correctly, this was a one bedroom unit in a condo complex on a quiet block. Everything was shiny and new.  
 OK sized living room.

small bedroom

The problem was that it wasn't in the best neighborhood and I felt it was overpriced.

Hoping For A Commitment Soon

On Saturday July 20,  I received a letter from my HSBC loan officer stating that I needed to provide more documents in order for them to process my loan application.  The letter stated that all these items needed to be addressed or else they couldn't move forward on my loan. The document had outline a 22 item request list, some of which I had already submitted weeks earlier.  Another of which, I hadn't received the relevant document from the loan officer to complete. One question asked me to verify that 15% of my current home was not being used as a home business.  I was confused. Why is my loan officer requesting information that she already received or not provided to me? Furthermore why is she asking me questions regarding a home business that doesn’t exist? I thought at first that she may have gotten my file confused with someone else’s. I quickly wrote her an email asking for her to explain. Of course, I got no response. To her credit, it was Saturday. On Monday morning, …

Choosing Paint Colors and Patterns

I’m always impressed by the way that furniture stores layout furniture. The photo above was taken at a Macy’s furniture store a few years ago.  The brass bed frame, dark wood armoire and end tables are all part of the Martha Stewart Turkey Hill collection. At the time this photo was taken, this was the look that I wanted for my dream bedroom.  My tastes have changed ( for the better I hope), but I still like the gray blue color on the wall. Over the last few days, I have been thinking a lot about paint colors. I thought, I had finally decided on a light blue paint color for the living room. But then I changed my mind. I have narrowed it down to the following:

This is the sky light view paint from Valspar. It was my first choose but then I thought maybe I should try something darker.

This is the twin cities paint. Then I wanted something blue and found this Silver Dusk color I like patterns and I have been thinking about doing a stenciled accent wall in the living room. I like the Damask s…

Home Sweet Home. Not So Fast.

One of the reasons that I haven’t posted in a while is because I didn't want to have to write the words, I’m still waiting for mortgage commitment from HSBC. Seeing those words written, as you can probably imaging, is disheartening. I am so emotionally attached to the property and exhausted that we've been in contract for two months and yet haven’t been able to secure a mortgage. I have decorated in my mind, chosen colors for the living room and entry hallway.

Perhaps it’s a tiny bit crazy, but I strongly believed that this would have been a shorter process.I am a first time home buyer so I didn't know what I didn't know. I didn't think that I had unrealistic expectations either. I had already compromise on the ideal neighborhood. I compromise on the cost. I compromise on having a kitchen full of updated cabinets and stainless steel appliances. I compromise on having an updated bathroom. I have watched hours of televisions shows were two weeks after making an offer …

Positive Thinking and Home Decor Budget

Today I got an email from my attorney enquiring if I had secured a mortgage commitment as yet. Sadly, I had to respond, no.

It is a reasonably question to ask when you consider that I made an offer on the home on May 3rd 2013 and we went into contract at the end of May.Everything else from here on in should have gone smoothly. I thought wrong. Having never purchased a home before I didn't understand the process. I assumed that because I had a 10% down payment and good credit that would be enough. I even completed a first time home buyers class, at HSBC’s request, at a community organization and received a certificate of completion. This class cost me a nonrefundable fee of $75. The community organization wasn't all bad and I don’t want to give the impression that they did not assist. They helped me to apply for a down payment assistant grant. I am truly grateful for that. Still, here I am six weeks later without a mortgage commitment from HSBC and waiting anxiously to move forw…