So, yeah. Big news last week--I bought an apartment in Manhattan. This is the culmination of an extremely arduous process (I've been in contract since the third week of January so it's been pretty much exactly six months) and I am VERY relieved it is finally over.
For awhile now (at least since 2009) I've been scrutinizing the subway dailies (AM New York and NY Metro) for those ads that appear, usually on Thursdays, advertising new buildings that are going up that have set-asides for people like me who don't make a ton of money. Most of these buildings are rentals and are usually called 80/20 (as in 80% of the apartments are market-rate, 20% are income-restricted). I *only* wanted 80/20 buildings--no Mitchell-Lama or any of that type of program. I think these programs work best when they mix income levels. When I see an ad whose requirements I satisfy, I send in a request for an application. The income restrictions may vary--some are as low as $23,000 per year (WHO the hell makes that in Manhattan? I honestly don't even get how they find anyone for those--people who make that little money would have a VERY difficult time living in the city) or maybe $33,000. Anyway so I've had my application picked a couple of times before this. This is when the fun begins, because they call you into an interview and you have to produce REAMS of paperwork to prove you are in fact actually qualified. I mean, everything--bank statements, paystubs, utility bills, etc. The first time my application was picked ofr a building, the ad was badly written and I actually did not qualify which was...well, very upsetting. Then a little over a year later I was contacted by another building. I actually made it all the way through and qualified but they ran out of apartments, so I was put on the waiting list. I knew THAT would never happen--the building is the Mima on 42nd St., a luxury building--NO ONE who was lucky enough to get into that one was going to be going anywhere for a while. So back to the drawing board.
Last summer I sent in an application for a new building going up in SpaHa (Spanish Harlem). But this was not a rental--it was for homeowners. I wasn't crazy about the location but I thought--a whole building full of homeowners? That seems pretty good, they will have a stabilizing influence on the block. So I sent it in and got back a letter saying where I was on the list. I'd found an online forum where posters were going through the same process so I monitored that. Finally in January they called me in for an interview. Representatives of the seller (the developers) looked through my initial papers and thought that I qualified and they showed me the apartment the same day. It's a studio on the 3rd floor--and I fell in love with it immediately.
Here is the website for the building: La Celia
I'll post pics later but among other amenities my kitchen has a BREAKFAST BAR. Which means I can entertain! All new appliances of course, and the refrigerator is HUGE. It's split-side, plus it has an ice/water dispenser in the door. Also the kitchen is wired out the wazoo--SIX OUTLETS in the kitchen alone. Oh--and a DISHWASHER. Yay, no more scrubbing pots!!!
The one window is very large--4 panels across. also, two closets PLUS a linen closet which makes this Southerner very happy. Very nice treated hardwood floors. One unit for both heat and A/C which means no more Air Conditioner of Damocles dangling out of the window and blocking the sunlight. The bathroom has a pretty little shower stall with a glass wall and glass door. As for the rest of the building, there is a gym, a party/community room, a laundry room and a terrace out back. Basically it's gorgeous and I love it.
So I signed the purchase contract and then started the loan process. MORE paperwork--I was sitting with the loan officer for something like 2 hours as I handed over statements, etc. He asked if he could pull my credit, I said of course. Then his eyes widened when he saw my credit score--OVER 800. Oh my Lord. I really didn't know it was that high--yay! So I qualified for a shit-ton of extra goodies like a SONYMA loan at 3% plus an HPD grant to cover my closing costs (NOICE because closing costs can really rack up--anywhere from $8K-20K). The best part is that my monthly nut (mortgage plus maintenance fees) won't be that much more than I'm paying now for rent.