Thursday, April 29, 2010

Things you learn along the way

At some point I will get my head together and start properly describing the real-estate adventure. Basically there's two things I learned along the way:

1) buying real estate is insanely complicated and involves an epic ton of paperwork and logistics; and

2) like having a kid, this is a really complicated and responsibility-fraught thing that anyone who wants to can manage, no matter how ill-prepared they are for the task. David and I knew nothing going in, right down to the basics of "ok, we want to make an offer ... um, how do we actually do that? E-mail the seller's broker and say 'hey, we'd like Apartment X, how do you feel about [insert made-up number here]?' Fax? Call? Send carrier pigeon?"

And yet, roughly 90 days after deciding we wanted to buy an apartment, we got to move into our newly owned condo.

Saturday is May 1, when we'd typically write our rent check. But one of the Things Everyone Apparently Knows But I Didn't is that when you take on a mortgage, you don't make a payment the first month. Because unlike rent, which you pay in advance at the beginning of the month, mortgage is collected in arrears, after it's owed. So because we closed in April (and at closing prepaid the interest the loan would accumulate in April), our first payment is due in June, to pay off the debt we incurred in May.

Practical upshot: A month in which we owe no mortgage or rent payment. Hooray!

Reality check: Like any new homeowner, we had a ton of stuff we had to buy to make the place functional. Including a couch, 7 chairs, a deck table, a bench, lamps, a bedside table, and roughly a dozen boxes of cleaning supplies. Our Amex bill for the month was about what the mortgage would run. So much for spare cash.

But hey, we did what the government hoped we'd do with the first-time homebuyer credit -- economically stimulated every retailer within a half-mile blast radius.