Hey, if anyone is in the market for a house in Dublin (You never know), my friend’s home is up for sale.
The house is right across the street from my mother in law in Foxrock, an area that my husband does not like to admit he’s from because it’s a bit suburban well heeled. The houses around there are a mostly samey-samey but I’ve always loved going over to 74 Clonkeen for tea so I can drool over their awesome mid-century interiors. And this is from a person who doesn’t get excited over mid-century design! The parents really had superb taste.
I’ll miss going over there. Unless you buy it and invite me over for tea. Just a thought.
posted @ 5:13 am Comments (0)
Just finished the house website! I actually bought the domain for Rockaway House but then it was just sooo much easier to create the site through Weebly, so I said WTH.
Here goes nuthin’. So, I guess this means the house is officially on the market, even though there’s still plenty of work left to do.
Showing this weekend. The fire under my butt has been lit.
posted @ 12:38 pm Comments (1)
Open living/dining/kitchen area.
One half of the two family Rockaway house will be liveable by June 1st! As in liveable for normal people, not someone like me who no longer notices lack of switchplates and doorknobs. The self imposed deadline was set for this weekend to take some pictures and start spreading the word. Although it’s ready for it’s close-up, it’s a few days from being ready to show. Show by next weekend? Yeah, probably!!
The entire house will be for sale or rent by the end of this month. I call it a two story bungalow. It’s a cozy (that means small in realtor speak) 2 BR over 1BR, just under 1000 square feet for the whole house. Gotta do some comps and math to come up with prices. The website will get started (but not finished) today.
I’m on a roll baby and it feels good!
Yeah, that toe kick needs to be painted and stove needs backsplash.
The old singer sewing machine base trick. A favorite of mine.
Long, narrow bedroom in the back of the house. I want to work a little magic on those plain, white doors if I get the time.
Kitchen area before.
Living room during demo.
posted @ 7:31 am Comments (5)
So, MOMA, I hear you want to expand. How nice for you. No, really. That’s actually good news for New York. We do love a good art museum. Love it more when it’s a suggested admission and not some crazy, rip off price that’s too steep for actual working artists to afford, but I digress.
It seems a bit … oh, I dunno, ironic, that in order for you to expand, you want to tear down a 12 year old architectural work of art by Tod Williams and Billie Tsien. Do you think that only canvases and sculptures should be considered art? Does it not matter to you that these architects CREATED this building?
Excuse me, but how is this any different than taking a torch to a Warhol? Could you imagine the outrage if someone went and bulldozed a pile of Pollocks? You even have an architecture and design department in the museum, for fuck’s sake!
Do I love the building in question? Not really. I don’t have much appreciation for anything new. I’m all about the antique and vintage. But that doesn’t mean I want to see someone’s work being torn down. It’s not a cheap-ass brick Fedder’s building. It’s someone’s imagination being brought to life.
And I think you, MOMA, of all institutions, should not try to tear down anyone’s imagination.
posted @ 9:05 am Comments (0)
Ah, The Big Chill. The house itself certainly wasn’t the subject of the film and yet it played an important role. A group of friends gather for their buddy’s funeral. They spend the weekend together in this amazing house that has enough bedrooms for each of them, a dining area large enough to seat all of them, a living room where they can all gather comfortably and plenty of land to engage in outdoor sex.
That special house located in Beaufort, South Carolina is up for sale now for a cool $4.5M. Would it make a lovely family residence for someone with deep pockets? Sure. Would it make an even awesomer investment? Hell yeah!
Picture a B&B that does weddings and events. Actually, it was a guest house from the 1930′s-1970′s. Shit, I’d stay there…if I ever found myself in South Carolina. It’s also a great film shoot location. Not only was it The Big Chill House but it was also featured in The Great Santini.
The home was built in 1853. It has seven bedrooms and over seven thousand square feet on 1.38 acres.
If you buy it, I will come. Here’s the listing.
posted @ 7:46 am Comments (0)
It’s essential to have a home inspection after putting an offer on a house. The inspector will take two to four hours to go over every detail so you know what you’re getting yourself into.
Lots of folks back out of the deal after reading the inspector’s report. That’s fine, but there’s no need to waste the $500-$1000 fee if you know what to look for prior to making an offer.
The first time you look at the house, the only items on your mind are location, size and style, right? It’s either a fixer upper or “renovated”. Total fixer uppers are easy. You know it’s gonna be a money pit. But those “renovated” homes are a bit trickier.
On your second visit to the house, take your time to snoop around some more. Here’s what you’re looking for:
1. Floors. Are they bouncy or soggy? If there’s carpeting, what’s underneath? If it’s tongue and groove, check to make sure they have some sanding life left in them. You can tell by the thickness of the boards. It’s not a big deal to replace floors. It’s just an expense.
2. Basement. Do you see any water marks? Is there a dehumidifier down there? A sump pump? If so, ask why.
3. Basement II. Check out the boiler, water heater and electric panel. Let’s keep this fairly simple. How old or new do they look? Do they have maintenance stickers?
4. Basement III. Look up at the ceiling. The floor joists are those 2x6ish pieces of wood spanning every 12″-16″. The beams are chunkier. Maybe they are 4×4 or larger. Maybe they are steel. You want to make sure there are enough posts holding up those beams if it’s wood. The posts should be sitting on concrete, not dirt. If any of this stuff is rotted, they will need to be replaced or “sistered”. Rot could be a sign of larger issues such as water leakage from above or termite infestation.
5. Exterior. If it’s stone, does it have cracks? If brick, will it need pointing? If wood, do you see any peeling paint or wood rot? How are the gutters and flashing? Check the pitch of the landscape to see if water would puddle up and/or enter the house. Are there drains in the back yard?
6. Electric. Make sure there are enough outlets in each room. They should all be three prong. Bathrooms and kitchens should have GFI outlets near water sources. If none of the above, the electric will need an upgrade.
7. Plumbing. Look at the drains under sinks to make sure there there are no leaks. Also check for leaks around toilets and bathtubs. Oh, almost forgot! Go back down to the basement and make sure the copper pipes are not corroded.
8. Follow your nose. Do you smell gas? Mold?
9. Windows. How old do they look? If they are original, have they been maintained or are there storm windows? Do you feel drafts around the windows meaning it’s not insulated?
10. Work quality. This is my own theory. I don’t think an inspector will voice concern about a house if it has a bad caulking job, but hear me out. If the finished product looks sloppy, chances are a low end contractor was used to save costs and that means there may just be band-aids on some problem areas. Look for overuse of caulk, grout film on tile, bumpy sheetrock seams and messy paint jobs. I go a step further and even turn my nose up at material quality. Cheap Home Depot wainscoting is usually covering something nasty! I shouldn’t say that. You’re right. I’m a snob. But buyer beware!
Again, nobody is telling you to be the inspector but these are some things you should look for. Are they fixable? Absolutely! But it’s better to know what you’re getting into before you put in an offer. And that, my friends, is the reason I always buy total wrecks.
posted @ 8:08 am Comments (0)
Let’s say we survive this Mayan inspired apocalypse tomorrow. What do you think is in store for us come 2013?
Well, I’m a hit-or-miss psychic but here are my predictions (more like observations) on the near future in local areas.
First, a slight backtrack to 2012 and said apocalypse. I remember reading a Nostradamus predictions on the subject a few years ago. It’s in one of my books that are still packed in a tote box in the basement years after moving. Anyway, I was relieved to find that according to Nostradamus, the 2012 destruction of earth isn’t one single event that immediately ends it all but rather a series of cataclylsmic occurrences around the globe. If I remember correctly, many would be wiped out, but not all would perish.
So, ok. Nostradamus may have been on to something there.
Moving forward, I think New York will survive and flourish as she always does. Armageddon or not, you just can’t hold New York down.
Don’t know if you realize this, but there are STILL people living without heat and electric. Many homes that were not torn down are not safe to live in, so I just want to take this opportunity to say that help is still very much needed for Sandy victims. Just because this blog and the media has moved on doesn’t mean they are not still struggling. If you were thinking that you missed out on volunteering or donating, think again.
Ok, the future!
Crazy real estate prices. That’s the present, I don’t have to be psychic to see that. Areas such as Bed Stuy, Crown Heights and Flatbush that were on the verge of affordable have hit the million mark. Rental prices have increased as well. I told you to buy a brownstone in Bed Stuy back when they were $650k. What were you waiting for??
I’m not going to put my money were my mouth is (because it’s tied up in Rockaway) but I’m thinking East Flatbush and Broadway Junction (pretty much East New York) will be the next affordable areas to take off. Don’t go out and buy because I said so. My track record is 50/50.
Right now, if you’re an out of work contractor, there’s something wrong with you. Think about this. How many homes in how many areas either need a total rebuild, renovation or just renovation of one floor? That’s not just houses. There are businesses and infrastructure that have been totaled as well. It’s going to be The Year of the Contractor. And they’ll let us down like they always do. F*ckin’ contractors.
Retail will see a spike as folks start getting money back from insurance, charity and FEMA and moving back into their homes. What was lost? EVERYTHING. Clothing, furniture, appliances, artwork, kitchenware, electronics. Think about every item you own times what it would take to replace it all times how many families have to do that. The shops in hard hit areas are struggling to survive right now, but if they can hang on, 2013 can be their busiest year yet. Even food vendors, what with all the workers coming into these neighborhoods.
Farming. I heard this on NPR, so I’m stealing this “prediction”. Because of climate change, we’re going to have a harder time growing food. Land will become more valuable as food production declines. Now is the time to buy those 50 acres upstate you’ve been dreaming about. So perhaps Gerald O’Hara was right when he said “Land is the only thing that lasts”.
Unless, of course, you’re near the water. Then fuhgettaboutit.
posted @ 7:13 am Comments (0)
I met Sal a few years ago as a fellow Brooklyn Flea vendor. We stayed in touch via the Interwebs and I kept meaning to visit his shop in Callicoon, NY. Sal is now in the process of moving Tin Can Trading Post to a multi-dealer store up the road. What finally got me up there to see the store was his massive moving sale.
Because I was focused on house materials, I only made out with three lights (four if you count the pair of sconces as two). But oh, how I wished I was there shopping for myself! Scary dolls and clown paintings, old wicker subway seats, a dessert cart from Grossingers. Grossingers!! It would make a fabulous kitchen island.
Sal closed up his shop for a bit to give us a tour of his home that’s on the market for $189k in nearby Cochecton. What a treat for an old home lover! The restoration reveals layers of history. Original wallpaper was cleaned with wonder bread. Did you know about that technique? I did not. The plaster in some areas was left unpainted. You know how much people pay to faux this look? Here, it’s the real deal.
Worth the trip up to Sullivan County. Check out the shop. Buy the house. Turn it into a B&B so I can stay there in the future.
posted @ 7:51 am Comments (1)
The Rockaway Peninsula consists of neighborhoods that range from skid row to exclusive. Since this is a post about “affordable housing” in the area, we’re not here to talk about Belle Harbor.
Rockaway Beach was once a summer destination for city dwellers. The bungalows that lined the shore were torn down to make way for public housing in the 50′s and 60′s. That’s about the time urban blight set in and it’s still very visible in areas of neighboring Arverne that have not yet been rebuilt.
But the fact is, Rockaway Beach has been rediscovered. And the new developments at Arverne by The Sea are a big F U to urban decay.
Once upon a time, Rockaway Beach was known as The Irish Riviera. Now it’s the Hipster Hamptons. There are still plenty of working class Irish American families whom have been rooted in the area for generations. Now it’s a diverse mix of old timers and new.
During the summer months, this is fast becoming THE place to be. The concessions open up on the boardwalk, hipsters flock here to surf, swim and be all hip-n-shit. Rockaway Taco has 2 hour lines. For a friggin taco. Winter months are fairly quiet. The dedicated surfers are out there all year, but you’ll notice less of a scene and more of a community in the cold weather.
Surely, if you are a beach person or a boater (the bay is on the other side of the peninsula), you can’t do much better on a budget than Rockaway Beach. This stretch of the peninsula is walking distance from shore to shore, so you have the best of the beach and the bay. But let’s talk about off season. People haven’t been surviving out there for generations on nothing!
Are there restaurants? Yes. Thai Rock and Bungalow Bar next door are on bayside and have outdoor seating in the warmer weather. They have live performances as well as food and drinks. There are plenty of established restaurants near 116th Street (a main shopping district) or across the bridge in Broad Channel.
What about bagels? Yeah. They even deliver.
Hot yoga? Of course!
Dog park? Fantastic dog park! Tested on my own dogs. They loved it!
Supermarkets? The Stop and Shop on Beach 72nd Street in Arverne is worth the 20 block (or so) trip.
Those are all pros. So, what are the cons?
Well, it’s a schlep. The A runs about 10 trains during rush hour. Other hours, you have to switch for the shuttle at Broad Channel to get out to Rockaway.
Hit or miss areas. Like any neighborhood in transition, some blocks are nicer than others. You do see people fixing up their homes across the street from an abandoned burnt out shell.
Safety? Look at the statistics and judge for yourself. Personally, I can’t comment on how safe I feel there yet because I haven’t spent enough time there. I don’t think I’d want to walk around near the Hammel Houses at 2am with my ear buds, but then I wouldn’t do that in most neighborhoods. Just to be clear, there are plenty of great families living in housing projects, not just the “bad elements”. The elevated train line does give the feeling of being isolated from the more pleasant beach side of town.
Schools? Don’t have kids. Again, check it out. I will say that the high school I pass along Beach Channel Drive looks nice with their tennis courts and all.
All in all, I think it’s a pretty great investment and a wonderful place to live. You can still pick up a small fixer upper for less than $300k but act now. I swear there were more listings in the $200k’s when I started looking and was less than impressed. My how things have changed so quickly.
posted @ 7:40 am Comments (0)
Buying your first home can be a bit daunting. Heck, buying for the fifth time is still stressful! Here’s a list of steps to take to ensure that there are no freak out moments during your transaction.
1. Pre-qual and down payment. Before you even start your search, you should know your budget. How much cash do you have to put down? The full amount? Well, good for you! Can I borrow some? Talk to a bank or mortgage broker and find out how much they are willing to give you FIRST. Chances are, you will need to provide proof of funds with your offer.
2. Get a good buyer’s agent. Well, if you live in NYC, you know that ain’t gonna happen. You’re on your own. Good luck. Not saying there aren’t good agents out there, but not all brokers like to share their commission. Kapeesh? So, you may have the bestest, most hardest working agent in the world, but she can get cut out of the deal if you happen to find that for sale by owner who won’t work with brokers. Outside of the boroughs, get yourself a good agent and relax.
3. You found a house? Hoorah! Ok, here’s the deal. At the time of this writing, things are cray-cray in Brooklyn once again. Bubbles! Maybe they’ll burst or maybe they won’t, but open houses are getting about 100 people in attendance and there have been multiple offers over ask. So, if you’re interested in a super popular location, expect to fight for it. Present a decent enough offer. If they bite…
4. Get that inspection done ASAP. Doesn’t mean a thing if they’ve accepted your offer. They’re not on the hook until the contracts are signed. Oh, did I mention that you should have chosen your attorney by this time? Go back to somewhere between steps 2 and 3 and do that.
5. More negotiations. There was probably some fierce negotiating back when you were arguing over the price. Well, now that you know the house needs $80k worth of work over what you thought it did, it’s time to demand more. If your agreed upon price was as-is, don’t get greedy. If there’s nothing really wrong with the house and you just feel like haggling some more, don’t.
6. The lawyer. Depending on whether or not you have an agent, the lawyer usually doesn’t come into the picture until you come to an agreement. The seller’s attorney writes up the contract and sends it to your attorney. They change some things around just to strut their stuff. You sign. The sellers sign. Congratulations! You’re in contract!
7. Now you wait. The bank will be asking you for stuff. You’ll be looking at designs and getting names of contractors. Blah, blah, blah. All the while, you can stress out about bank appraisal, underwriting, title search.
* Jeopardy theme *
8. Mortgage Commitment. Remember that pre-qual letter you got? Yeah, it didn’t really mean anything. The commitment letter from the bank is gold. This is the baby you’re waiting for.
9. Title search. You’re getting close! This is something your attorney orders when he/she knows everything is kosher. After these steps, you’re clear to close! Your attorney should be trying to save you a few bucks by seeing if there’s a recent existing survey instead of having to order another one.
10. Closing Date. You’ll wait for 2-3 months twiddling your thumbs and then you have a few days to scramble the last minute things together. Nope, you can’t get a head start and do them way in advance.
11. Congratulations! You bought a house! And now the stress really begins….
posted @ 7:18 am Comments (4)
Oooh, a single family house with a front porch, lawn, deck and pool on the Lower East Side for $299k! I’ll take it! I grabbed the Streeteasy screen shot yesterday because I thought the mistake would be corrected by the time I posted this. As of now, “Lower East Side” has been changed to “Manhattan”. The broker’s link correctly locates the house in Port Jefferson, LI.
posted @ 6:28 am Comments (0)
I didn’t want to jinx it by mentioning it, but now that my offer has been accepted, inspection is done and I’m about to go into contract, I think it’s safe to tell you about the new house!
After looking in The Rockaways in bad weather then deciding to search upstate for a few months, I got discouraged with “the country”. Yes, there were houses in my price range. Loads of them. And I looked at them all. Only, none of them made too much sense. After travel time and/or living away from home most of the week, high taxes and the amount of work these places needed, I decided to give it one last shot locally.
I caught this house on Craigs and the agent actually did her job (unheard of in NYC in my price range) by returning my call and showing me the house. Not only that, but she has followed through on everything with this deal.
Location is pretty darn good even if it’s not on the beach. It’s actually located on the bay side of the peninsula with a view of the water. The parks department bought the property across the street on the bay and it will be a park with an area to put in kayaks and such. At the rate they’re going, I’ll be finished before them. This is in the high Beach 80′s, close to Thai Rock and within walking distance to the hip beach area. Like 4 blocks walk to beach.
The house is not much to look at. New vinyl siding. Hate it! But since I gotta keep costs down and I don’t want to put all that vinyl in the dumpster, I’ll try to purdy it up best I can with some molding to take away from the fugliness.
The 1920′s house probably never had any detail to begin with and it surely doesn’t now. There is actually wood flooring under that carpet, but who knows what I’ll find behind that drop ceiling and wall paneling? I’m thinking of going with Hollywood Regency style to spice it up.
It’s a legal 2 family of about 1000 square feet and I’ll keep as two units. I figure that rental income is never a bad thing. When all is said and done, the house should be fairly affordable to moderate income buyers. Even if someone just purchases it as a second home or two parties want to split it, the two apartments, although small, make sense.
The kitchens will get face lifts as will the entire house. What is NOT getting ripped out? Hello….
So, here’s where this blog will take another turn. Look for info on The Rocks (Yeah, gross term, I know. I said it to make you puke in your mouth alittle.) in the upcoming months. I’ll be posting design tips and DIY videos once the renovation starts.
If you follow me on Pinterest and you’ve noticed me creating boards like “Siding options”, “Tiny Back Yards” and “Hollywood Regency” now you know why. Let the fun begin! (In about a month when I close.)
posted @ 6:34 am Comments (6)
The first time I went to check out The Rockaways and look at houses was during the winter. It was a gray, rainy weekday. Miserable. I was totally uninspired and that’s when I started looking upstate.
Well, over the weekend I saw a Rockaway listing that could work for what I want to do and I visited again. This time it was a sunny weekend and people were out. With dogs! And bikes! And frisbees! I walked along the beach and thought….yeah, I could deal with this.
It would mean I can commute from home while I’m working on the house. If I do upstate, I’m up there on my own for the better part of the week.
It would mean I’m not strictly in a second home area (Yeah, I know, people live upstate full time). Buyers who move there can take the A train to work. Granted, it would take them just as long as driving from upstate, but it’s a $2.50 subway ride.
It would mean less taxes.
It would mean I’m not paying thousands for gas to drive up and back while working on the house.
Drawbacks? Well, The Rockaways are still very rundown. The part I can afford, anyway. FYI, I’ll tell you that this is between Beach 86 and 100 Street. It’s totally risky.
Do I like taking risks? Yeah. Kind of.
If you know of any reason I shouldn’t do this, speak up now!!
posted @ 8:46 am Comments (4)
163A Halsey is up for auction again. It sold for $400k last year with a starting bid of $325k. Obviously, there were multiple bidders. Wonder what happened?
posted @ 7:05 am Comments (0)
Not being too familiar with Sullivan County, I contacted buyer’s agent Joe Addeo at The Rural Connection to show me around yesterday. What a luxury not having to set up appointments, navigate and drive from house to house!
We saw a bunch of homes that were in pretty decent shape. None of them would have worked for my flip purposes, but it’s definitely a buyer’s market over there. That part of Sullivan County near the Delaware River is beautiful but quiet. Don’t go expecting a scene, man.
Anyway, on to the houses! Find info on all of them here.
The farmhouse pictured above is a steal at $175k. Great piece of property on 5 acres with a pond near Jeffersonville. The house doesn’t need much work at all, which is why it didn’t suit my own purposes. One can just move in and enjoy. I saw some unfinished molding. That was about the extent of the work IMHO.
This lovely cape was in decent shape also. It’s very close to Jeffersonville and the Villa Roma Resort, which is like an Italian version of a Borscht Belt resort. A sausage belt resort, if you will. The house could use some updating or you can overlook the drop ceilings and dated kitchen and just enjoy your summer. Not bad for $139k.
This Cochecton house was pretty sweet for $89k and would have worked for me had the neighboring house not been so close (close by country standards). On the plus side, the neighbors have horses. Unfortunately, that’s a negative when you have dogs. Anyhoo, great bones, good location. Price is unbeatable!
Oh, this was a good one too! Another not-much-to-do house. The exterior looks worse than the interior. I remember that this one had a great kitchen with aluminum cabinets and an old drainboard/sink and the floors were in perfect shape. $139k in Cochecton.
The city girl in me appreciated this one simply because it was within walking distance to civilization. The village of Kauneonga Lake isn’t very big but has 4-5 good restaurants that overlook the lake. This is the perfect retreat for lake lovers, even though the public access is some ways from the house. There’s a hot tub in the back. Who doesn’t like a weekend place with a hot tub? $109,900.
Finally, this lovely Cochecton farm house belongs to my buddy Sal, an antiques dealer in Callicoon. The house is about to hit the market at under $200k. When it does, I’ll let you know all about it…as well as the cool vintage trailers he’s selling. But for now, consider this your head’s up.
posted @ 7:29 am Comments (1)