Thursday, May 24, 2007

we have closing!...scheduled

After a couple of conference calls this morning, everyone finally got on the same page and we have a closing scheduled for Tuesday the 29th at 3:00! I was amused by the fact that both calls happened with everyone present...except the buyers. I think everyone in this process probably feels that if they never get another phone call from yours truely, it will be too soon. But it has finally paid off and we have a closing scheduled! Barring a cancellation of all flights from Puerto Rico or the discovery of buried treasure on the property, we should all be gathered on Tuesday to end this chapter of our adventure and get started on the next! And Dan and Cindy will only have to spend a couple nights on other people's couches. What a relief!

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

okay, enough already.

well, we still haven't closed. c and i lose our place to stay on the 28th of this month, so it's starting to come down to the wire for us. we'll have to look into subletting options if we can't get this closing wrapped up this week. it's getting to be a bit anxiety-producing.
kudos go to thabo, for 99% of the legwork these days. he's been making phone calls to attorneys, title company, realtors, mortgage guy, etc., trying to get things done. he gets the gold star for keeping these people on task, as much as possible. plus, he regularly updates the rest of us with what is going on.
i really want this part of the home-buying process to be over.

Monday, May 21, 2007

more thoughts on recreation

Regarding the climbing wall and attaching holds: I did some searching over the weekend and it looks like there are some pretty good products for bonding items to concrete. We're thinking we might we might want to go that route to avoid being sent a bill for reconstruction of the Prospect Expressway when they find we're drilling holes in the concrete retaining wall. The products all claim something like 3,500 psi tensile strength and even more compression and...what's the other one...I can't remember but I think it means twisting. I can't imagine any of us putting more than 3,500 psi of pressure on a hand hold, and as long as we have a rope...Still have to figure out how to anchor that rope.

inching towards the finish line

Still no closing. Last Friday there were still four things missing. About five thousand phone calls between us and the seller, real estate agent, our lawyer and the mortgage broker managed to get one document into the right hands and one requirement waived. An direct threat to repair the leaking boiler ourselves (accompanied by an actual visit to the house this weekend) prompted a call to the repair man, who should be taking care of that piece today. So now we're waiting for verification from the seller's bank that they paid off their mortgage years ago. And then we'll get a call to schedule the closing.....and my phone is ringing!!......that was George (owner) saying the repair was made. So we're officially down to one item remaining....feel the excitement!

Tuesday, May 15, 2007


okay, since the last post, not too much has happened. one thing that has happened is that the architect we have been meeting with decided he wasn't the right match for the job (not familiar with c of o stuff, permits, etc.) and referred us to another architect. we're working on setting that up.
also, the word in the air this week is that paperwork is getting signed, things are getting done, and we may be closing by the end of the week. needless to say, we'd all love it if that happened, but aren't banking on it.
thabo and i also discussed putting an outdoor bowling alley in the backyard, as a way of using up some of the vast amount of concrete that the current owners poured over the entire backyard. we got into the nitty gritty of it; some sort of chain mechanism attached to the pins, so that you could pull a lever to right them, building a trough behind the pins for ball return, etc. between that and the climbing wall idea, we're going to have a sports complex back there.
or just a garden.
probably just a garden.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Brooklyn DOB

since we can't actually move in or start work yet (still haven't closed, waiting on seller's attorneys), yesterday thabo and i went to the brooklyn dept. of buildings (DOB) to see what we're up against. this is the place we will have to go to get approval for work, permits, inspections, c of o, and basically permission to breath. definately seems like a confusing place, with harried staffers who don't take crap, people running around trying to get signatures, the smell of fear in the air... we did manage to make friends with the information desk lady, who piled us up with forms that we need for permits, etc. i wrote down her name so that on future visits, we can continue to build good relations. we saw her in action, turning away people that she didn't want to help. yikes!
in the hallway, a friendly architect/expediter approached us and gave us a crash course on expiditing. her advice was that we could do it ourselves, and that we should apply for expediter licenses ($50 fee), pull files on other building projects, and learn from them. she also told us that an earlier quote we had from an expiditer was way too high. we got her name and number too. thanks, evelyn, for at least being positive.
we've also been doing a lot of web searching, to see what other folk's experiences have been. this site has a lot of interesting stuff about reno work, homeownership, etc. in brooklyn. most people seem to suggest using an expediter and not messing with the DOB in person. but, most people might have more disposable income, too...
the interesting thing about this part of the process (permits and DOB), is that every person we talk to has different advice and different information. the only common thread is that apparently everyone agrees it's a giant headache to deal with the DOB.

we also met with the architect again this week, to talk about terms of work, fees, scope of the job, etc. that went pretty well.

since we haven't posted any pictures recently, and i don't have anymore of the house available, here's a picture i took of my brother when we were backpacking in glacier national park in summer 2006. that was a good trip.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

a bit of a rant

Blogging is a form of therapy, right? Reflecting on our experience so far with the phenomena known as a real estate closing in NYC, I would have to say that I'm pretty appalled. New York requires that both the seller and the buyer use an attorney, which seems like a good idea, given all the red tape and convoluted record-keeping that can confuse the matter, especially when you're dealing with a building that is over 100 years old. So in addition to having a willing seller and a willing and able buyer, we've had 4 real estate professionals (two lawyers a mortgage broker and a real estate agent), plus the title company, working on getting this deal closed. They've been working on it now for 11 weeks, and counting. Amazingly, everyone keeps talking about how smoothly this process is going, saying things like "you can't make a closing happen overnight," and "this is just how things go." Well, I've been through closings in other states. Once I even waited 4 months while we cleared up right-of-way issues before a closing could happen. But 3 months for a smooth closing? My feeling is that the lawyer's attitudes and assumptions about how long the closing will take create a self-fulfilling prophecy. For example, our lawyer didn't order the title search until a week before we were supposed to close--and then they found out there was no survey on the property. He didn't get around to ordering it sooner, because he figured there was no way we would close on April 30th (not that he told us that). So we didn't close on the 30th and the title work is still wrapping up. I guess the major lesson I've learned from this process is that you have to be your own expediter in situations like this. Leave the work to the professionals, but understand that they don't care about the timeline like you do. If you leave it all to them, you'll watch deadline after deadline pass you by.

Friday, May 4, 2007

extended pause

it's definately been a crazy week. we got news that the survey had been completed early in the week, which put us back on track for closing within a few days, and possibly moving this weekend. great!

then, evidently the seller's attorney went on vacation.

which means, we wait.