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7.15.2014

The Frontiers of Adulthood: Home Ownership


Oh, hey there. Sorry I've been completely MIA, but you'll learn why in a second…

Welcome to my first installment of "The Frontiers of Adulthood" where I, a supposed adult, will discuss things that are going on in my life that are things adults are supposed to do…even though I really don't feel like one.

This series will be especially relevant for all of us living in high-priced cities where, if you're not a millionaire, things are difficult and you often question your quality of life because you know if you lived somewhere else, you'd probably have several acres of land, a huge house, and a life outside of your occupation instead of the studio apartment you've been in for 10 years (which you're still renting) and the job that haunts you on weekends and weeknights in the form of a plague of emails. You often scoff at Sex in the City because you know there's just no way Carrie could've afforded living in that apartment in the first place. (However, you still watch re-runs because of your expert ability to suspend disbelief…also, you will always love that show.)

Today's subject is about home ownership. If you've been following along on the blog, you might have noticed me mention here and there that we've been on the market for a home.

Well, ladies and gents, I'm proud to say that we just moved into condo a few weeks ago, which would explain why I basically fell off the Earth and was orbiting Pluto (which technically isn't a "planet" in our solar system anymore, but has enough gravitational force to keep me away from you for a month.)

Now, back to the subject…

I've gotta say that home ownership has really shed some light on parts of myself I never knew existed. Here's a list of things I've discovered about myself:

  • As much as I love a new pair of shoes, I'm apparently equally ecstatic about purchasing a new kitchen garbage can. I've graduated from reusing my Trader Joe's paper bags as trash bags to an actual kitchen garbage can complete with a soft-closing lid and solid construction. I went so far as to even register it online so I get the full lifetime guarantee. Is that sad? (No! It's responsible!...right?)
  • I have the ability to tailspin out of control when it comes to light switch plates and socket plates…and, also, good luck ever finding all the switch and socket plates you need at one Home Depot. I had to make 4 trips after a last minute decision to go with different finishes before getting them to my painter to replace the ones he took off the walls.
  • I apparently enjoy spending ridiculous amounts of time turning various door knobs at Home Depot to see which ones I like the feel of and get really neurotic about making sure the finish on the knobs will work with the wall colors…did I mention that the walls are all white? (BUT THERE ARE SO MANY DIFFERENT SHADES OF WHITE!!! Insert another tailspin.)
  • My feelings of victory are so strong when I find a dimmer knob in a dark, oil-rubbed, bronze finish, that I put my arms up and make whooping noises…and then immediately ichat Charles to let him know the "exciting news." (Meanwhile, he's busy scoring a film…)
  • I now check the "Home" section of Gilt 20 times a day.
  • I'm totally fine with using up all the gift certificates I received for my birthday on things for our new place. (See: New garbage can and a new set of pots & pans.) I knew I held on to them for a reason…which was initially to find yet another pair of shoes, but morphed into something way more useful.
  • When things don't go as I've planned, I become a pile of sadness and rage. (In this case, weeks of planning with one painter and having those plans fall through last minute…big thanks to Charles for keeping me in a tight bear hug and playing with my hair while I rode my sadness-rage wave out. Had it not been for him, I probably would've bought a box of brownie mix, made it all and ate it while binge watching the real housewives and pretending the new condo didn't exist anymore.)

So, these are just a few of the golden nuggets I've discovered after looking deep within myself.

Now, in more important news, here's a list of things I learned about closing on a home that you might want to consider if you ever plan on actually buying any sort of real estate:

1. Good credit. Period. 
If you don't have it, you better start working on it asap. May I suggest signing up for an Amex Green Card. I've read that it's one of the best cards to improve your credit. You need to pay that thing off every month, so sign up with caution.

2. Online banking will be your best friend.
For those of us who have always felt a little uneasy about the quick access you get to all your bank information via the Internet…you'll be singing its praises after you save your last 100 bank statements and credit card statements to PDF and magically email them to all the financial companies you'll be dealing with.

3. Befriend the finance person at work.
If you're not fastidious about keeping your paystubs and 401k documents in order, you better hope you've already cultivated a strong, enduring relationship with the finance person at your place of work because there's a good chance you'll be asking them to help you dig up a lot of stuff.

Luckily, I didn't have to bother my finance department, but I would like to say that I love them both. Three cheers for Alana and Patti! The two most wonderful finance people I've ever met!

...and if you're a freelancer or an entrepreneur, I really hope you've got a great accountant or a solid filing system.

4. Get yourself a scanning app or a scanner.
You will be asked to constantly fill out paperwork, so be sure to have either a scanning app (like Turboscan) or a scanner at home so you're not having to take shady photos on your phone of a piece of paper on your desk...or make a thousand trips to Kinko's.

5. Exercise your handwriting.
There is going to be a lot of filling out of paperwork and sometimes (often times) it's not something you can digitally fill out. So, save everyone the agony of trying to understand the Sanskrit that is your handwriting and practice it so it's remotely legible.

Keep practicing because the day of your closing or right before it, you'll have to sit and sign a stack of papers about 3 inches thick...and make sure to sign and date every single place because if you don't, they won't be able to file the paperwork and will end up pestering you that day with emails about "you forgot to date this." (Please refer to point 4 and append "and a printer" to it.)

6. Don't hate the player. Hate the game.
If you've purchased a home on your own, that's awesome. If, like me, you've decided to dive into 30 years of debt with another person, know that the weeks leading up to closing will likely be a living hell where all you do is be impatient with each other about documents and "where's this" and "can you get me that" and "when are you gonna sign this" and "I can't believe you forgot that part."

I'd like to report, however, Charles and I had little to none of this, but I could totally see it happening to any couple under the usual stresses of life that are compounded by the stresses of having to dig up the last several years of your financial history at the drop of a hat. I was lucky enough to have Charles take care of most of the organization while I sent him paystubs and documents stored away in my complicated filing system (a box), which I've organized like the neurotic little hamster that I am.

Just know that your significant other has become a horrible monster because the exercise of closing on a home allows them to peer into the deepest, darkest corners of there souls where the fear and anxiety of potential financial ruin lurk. It's not you. It's not them. It's the game.

7. Save your money.
This is a no brainer. You are closing on a place that will be yours. Gone are the days of having the landlord take care of the plumbing issue. Say goodbye to having the building handyman come by to help you hang up shelving and artwork. Having the building manager let you into your apartment at odd hours of the night because you locked yourself out? A distant memory.

You're gonna need to get back to saving now that your bank account is looking as desolate as a store shelf after Black Friday since the downpayment on your mortgage happened.

And that's all I got for now. The things I've learned about home ownership thus far.

By the way, despite all of this insanity, I'm super excited to settle down in this new place. Some call it "nesting." I call it "Martha Stewarting"...

Stay tuned for my next installment of "The Frontiers of Adulthood" where I'll discuss indoor plants, proper lighting, and how to make your apartment not look like it's 85% Ikea...even it if might be.

Also, hoping to get back to regular blogging. Sorry I was gone for so long! xo!

2 comments:

  1. LOL Hilarious....gosh adulthood is just soo eh sometimes you know?

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    1. Seriously, Amy. You couldn't have put it better.
      "Eh" sums up my feelings about the process.

      At least the complicated paperwork part is over...now my OCD is kicking into high-gear for all the interior decorating. Oy.

      xo!
      N.

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