Wednesday, December 26, 2007
Tuesday, December 25, 2007
Wednesday, December 19, 2007
- Forcing lenders to make sure that subprime borrowers set aside money to pay for taxes and insurance.
- Restricting lenders from penalizing certain subprime borrowers — those with tarnished credit or low incomes — who pay off their loans early. The restriction would apply to loans that meet certain conditions, including that the penalty expire at least 60 days before any possible payment increase.
- Barring lenders from making loans when they don’t have proof of a borrower’s income.
- Prohibiting lenders from engaging in a pattern or practice of lending without considering a borrower’s ability to repay a home loan from sources other than the home’s value.
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
Saturday, December 15, 2007
A couple pictures of the Garden level condo at 83 Halsey Street.
Two bedrooms and two small bathrooms, plus access to half of the backyard. Each apartment has its own water heater and boiler. Do you think this is worth $625K?
Friday, December 14, 2007
The bathroom on the garden floor was terrible. The previous owners put together the bathroom hastiliy--the shower blocked off the sink, the toilet was squished into a corner, the tiles were terrible, and in general, it was very cramped. The job was also half-done; apparently the owners were considering a renovation, but gave up or decided it wasn't worth it.
We called in our mason, Mr. R, immediately. He suggested that we move the wall out so that the bathroom would seem bigger. Mrs. Reno thought that was a good idea, but I didn't want to take space away from the kitchen. In the end, we extended the wall near the toilet.
Our plumber, Mr. H, moved the shower plumbing into the wall near the door of the bathroom so we could knock down the wall that blocked the view of the sink. We also decided to take the sheetrock down from the wall above the tub to expose the brick. Exposed brick is an easy way to introduce color to a bathroom without painting it. We've done this before and tenants have loved it.
Anyway, the bathroom came with one serious perk: a working jacuzzi tub. We thought it was broken and couldn't be saved, but Mr. H came to the rescue. Not only did he fix the tub, he showed us how to work its settings. Once cleaned, it sparkled like new.
Our electrician, B., came through several weeks later to complete the wiring for the track lighting in the bathroom. It probably took Mr. R. about a month to finish the bathroom, but as you can see, it was worth the wait.
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
Mrs. Reno and I are all about buying fixer-uppers for a couple reasons: they're still somewhat affordable by NYC standards, and there are some real gems out there. Before the subprime mess, the easiest part of buying a fixer-upper was getting the financing and closing.
But fixer-uppers are a challenge. After you close, the house is in your hands with all its defects--known and unknown. Most people imagine that they're going to hit the ground running and begin renovating ASAP. But, typically, it's not so easy. Usually you'll find that there are plumbing, heating, and roofing issues that your engineer and inspector conveniently missed. You'll also find that the seller didn't leave enough money in escrow to cover the problems you've discovered.
Resolving these problems will eat up your time and a whole lot of your money. If you're trying to renovate quickly for rental income, prepare yourself to pay your mortgage for a couple months before you can take a break. For example, when Mrs. Reno and I brought our brownstone we discovered that the roof, which the seller agreed to fix, was leaking because they used large nails to fasten the asphalt roof. Never assume that what you agree to at closing will actually be done as you asked. Our assumption about our roof cost us about $1500.
When unexpected issues pop up, don't panic. Take your time to resolve them even with the threat of months of mortgage looming over your head. In the long run, it'll pay off.
Monday, December 10, 2007
Over the past few weeks we've noticed two browstone/townhouses turning condo on Halsey Street, between Bedford and Marcy Avenues. Over the weekend, we saw 83 Halsey Street, and today we noticed an ad for 145 Halsey Street. Both these buildings were featured and discussed on the Bed-Stuy Blog.
We went to an open house at 83 Halsey Street on Saturday. This four story brownstone has been divided into four condo apartments listed at market prices: $499,000, $445,000, $655,00 and $625,00. Prices aside, each apartment featured some pretty nice perks: gas burning fireplaces, stainless steel appliances, decks for the higher floors and private backyard entrances for the lower floors. The investors also went to a lot of trouble to preserve the wood detailing, such as the original sliding doors and stained glass windows. However, there was a downside: the bathrooms were really small, and the garden apartment features a standing shower. The tiling and fixtures in the bathrooms were no show stoppers either. According to Property Shark, 83 Halsey Street LLC, brought the building for $630,000 on February 23, 2006. The apartment on the top floor, a two bedroom, two bath, is already under contract at $499,000.
Wednesday, December 5, 2007
Monday, December 3, 2007
The Fall Colors in Prospect Park
A few weeks ago I took a walk through Prospect Park. The fall colors were so beautiful, I had to take pictures to share with you.
Click here to view the Prospect Park slideshow.