Find my newest linocut print up at The Smudgery! At this point, it’s more of a reminder to myself of the long game. If you’ve been reading my posts recently, you know that I have been feeling overloaded and always in need of more time. But I don’t plan for this to be the norm. This is just a part of the journey and as Blue Scholars say, “that’s why we call it a struggle — you’re supposed to sweat.”
But back to the print. It took me two years and two apartments, from carving to printing to cleaning it up to re-printing. And then finally I had a day off when I could take product photos in the daylight. A crisis over my paycheck and tuition led me to list it in my shop in a fit of desperation. But despite the seemingly-fraught and rushed actions, it had been a slow-crafting process all along and I couldn’t be happier. Sometimes we just need that extra jump to finish the job.
Last Fall, in my first semester of graduate school, I wrote in a reflection assignment for class about how I planned to manage it all. “It all” meaning a full-time job, what feels like more-than-part-time school, and providing some semblance of an adequate life for myself (involving a number of s-words: sustenance, shelter, sleep, social life?). I said a few nice things about maintaining a regular schedule and blogging as a creative outlet. My professor commented, “What a great idea!”
I had a sudden panic attack after J and I made our first offer on an apartment. We had been looking for few weeks and saw an apartment that hit all of our main criteria — two bedrooms, spacious, decent kitchen, amenities (elevator building with laundry), manageable distance from public transportation, and it was in our price range. It even had a friendly doorman and a gym! We went back again during the next week’s open house to check it out and speak some more with the realtor, who was warm, helpful, and made us feel incredibly comfortable. J and I decided to go in without negotiating and offer the asking price. An hour later our offer was accepted and that’s when I panicked.
Sorry for the silence, folks, but I guess the only thing certain in life is that I will never maintain a regular posting schedule. I promise I have more in my series on buying a house, but I’ve flown through my queued posts and now I am writing them as we go and it has been a slow progress.
I haven’t even written about the last two months.
So, your team is assembled, you’ve been pre-approved by the bank, have a decent understanding of the current housing market, and have gone to a number of open houses. What happens when you stumble upon your dream apartment (or at least one that you would be pretty happy to live in for a long time)? You probably want to make an offer quickly, considering this is New York City, the rent is too damn high, and housing is always in demand.
But before you throw all of your money on the table and bare your soul to the sellers, you need to make sure you’ve hammered out the numbers.
One thing I learned during the home buying process was that every single step involves at least two other parties. Because of this, you need to assemble a team that you can trust and like to work with. Think of this part as your Ocean’s Eleven (but not eleven, more like three). You should probably have your team assembled before you go to open houses, but if you’re like J and I and have no idea what you’re doing, then you’re probably doing everything at once — researching, submitting items for pre-approval, going to open houses, asking realtors at open houses if they would recommend getting a realtor (their answers will probably leave you more unsure), and trying to figure out how the hell you’re supposed to find a real estate attorney. Regardless, here are the folks you need to look out for:
Figured I’d give you all a slight break in the posts about homebuying and write more about my home now that I’m actually a homeowner. Sorry, this is all that I talk about now. J and I have been hustling to get as much done on the home before I started grad school (at which point life is pretty much a series of wild cards) so we have quite literally been going hard in the paint (and spackle, and trips to home depot). We had about a month and a half between the time when we got the keys to the place and when I started classes (Thursday, September 3rd)… so every waking moment has pretty much been spent in the maelstrom that is this apartment.
There are a number of hoops that you must jump through before you can even begin looking seriously at a home. For J and I, the first obvious one was checking in with my parents and getting their thumbs up. The second and slightly less daunting one was to apply for mortgage pre-approval from a bank.
There are a lot of things J and I discussed before we launched into the house search, mostly the scary what-if scenarios as well as unpacking my fears of “settling down” and what kind of lifestyles we want. But beyond those items, we also had to dive into finances. Everything had to be on the table — IRAs, various stocks and investments, how much we’re holding in savings, checkings, what post-tax income looks like, and how much we were willing to part with. It’s a level of financial intimacy that we hadn’t fully broached before.
Additionally, we needed to be somewhat on the same page in terms of what we were looking for. How many bedrooms did we want? What’s the difference between a condo and coop?
Living in New York you get kind of used to having a revolving door of visitors. It’s one of my favorite things about living here. It takes very little convincing for your friends and family to come to you and see a snapshot of your life.