Tips on Buying a House in Brooklyn Part 1 by greg brophy

You lookin at ME?!

You lookin at ME?!

Or Don't Do What I Did.

Things have been quiet on the site and social media lately because for the past 8 months my wife and I have been looking to buy a house in Brooklyn and it's a full time job. Well as of the end of December, we got a place and it is great...sort of. I will give you a blow by blow of what happened and what to avoid.

Our goal was to get a place that had at least two bedrooms and a good size basement. We had lived in Inwood, a small community above Washington Heights at the end of Manhattan. I had lived in the same apartment since 2003 and the rent was low but it was a small one bedroom and we were quickly running out of space. We had been looking for years to buy in that area but most places are Co-ops and require at least 20% down which took a while to save. A couple years ago while trying to save, we started to notice men getting off the subway with funny looking mustaches and beards. We looked and thought maybe he missed the L train stop at 14th by about an hour and then we realized "Oh Shit! The neighborhood is about to really change." For a long time Inwood had been a hidden secret. A great little area with lots of wonderful parks. It did not have much in the way of restaurants, (unless you like Dominican food or fast food) but that quickly changed. With Dyckman st. becoming a hotspot with Jay Z and Beyonce at La Marina and people looking for affordable rents (think 1200 for a one bedroom) we were quickly priced out of our beloved Inwood. We watched one bedroom Co-ops go from 300,000 to 600,000 in a couple of years.

While looking for other places to possibly move to, my wife suggested we take a look at Bedstuy. I knew it was close to Bushwick and that area has just exploded, so I agreed. On a Sunday morning we made a 3 hour train ride to the area. We just decided to walk around for a while to get a feel for the area. We walked up Malcolm X Blvd and as we passed people, everyone was very friendly and made it a point to say hello. Sorry, I am a jaded New Yorker and when someone says hello, they usually want something or are in the process of lifting your wallet. This was not the case, and contrary to the stereotypes, people had manners in Brooklyn.

We were walking down the street and  most Real Estate offices were closed, but then we came upon a place that was called Reliable Real Estate. Again my jadedness struck and any place in NYC that has reliable in their name is usually not, but again Eni convinced to go in, she is not good at taking no for an answer. We talked to a young Hispanic guy at the desk and he directed us to one of the agents. I believe his name was Avi and asked us what we were looking for and how much could we afford. We told him $500,000 would be stretching it. He laughed at us and told us that this neighborhood was well beyond that price range. He asked how much we make and we told him. He then pulled out a chart and said well if you make this much you should be able to afford $800,000. We were shocked and I told him I don't have a rich uncle. He said with a FHA loan at 3.5% down you could afford a place like this. We had never heard of an FHA loan. Basically it is a federal loan for first time home owners that allow you to only put 3.5 - 5% down. Great where do I sign!!! Well of course their is a catch, it is NYC and their is always a catch. On top of your Mortgage you have to pay PMI which is Private Mortgage Insurance. For a $800,000 mortgage you will also have to pay about $1,500 a month for PMI. So a $4000 mortgage and $1,500 PMI and well its still a bit much. Then he told us that what most people do in these areas in buy a two family home and rent out the top floor for anywhere between $1500 and $2500. Ok that takes care of the PMI. The other thing he told us is that between 2-5 years most people refinance and get the PMI removed. You can do that when the estimate for the house goes up 20% or you have paid off 20% of the Mortgage. Plus he told us that you will get large tax returns at the end of the year that will help with the Mortgage. So basically we could have a house in Brooklyn and pay anywhere from $1500 to $2000 a month. Ok not bad and it definitely seems doable right? Right! Oh lord help us.

Next - Out of the Lions Den and into the Wolf Pack.

Daily Pics October 23th, 2014 by greg brophy

My wife sells candles on here site Ooh La La Petite Boutique, and for the last few weeks we have been going to Greenpoint a lot to buy supplies but also to sell to a few stores there. I saw this place one night and fell in love with the old signs. Their is something I love about taking photos of Laundromats.

Wash and Dry

Daily Pics October 5th, 2014 by greg brophy

The last in a series of Factory Doors from Greenpoint Brooklyn.

Daily Pics September 19th, 2014 by greg brophy

Olympic Diner closed down in June due to the hyper-gentrification going on throughout the city. I went there specifically because I read on Jeremiah's Vanishing New York and shot this on 8x10 color Polaroid film made by The Impossible Project. It was a test release that needs some more work. Hopefully they will be offering it again soon. The film is perfect for what I am trying to show.

Olympic Diner

Places That No Longer Exist by greg brophy

An image of Coney Island showing a building no longer there. It used to be a theater and from what I am told it was beautiful. You can see the wonder Wheel off in the background.

Daily Pics by greg brophy

I have been very busy lately and it is easy to get lost in a project. Most of my work lately is project based and it can take years to fully develop. I was reading some photo theory books and one photographer was talking about the importance of taking photos everyday. The need for practice of framing, composition and to maybe spark new ideas. So based on that idea I am going to post a photo a day. They are not so much project based but a way to keep my eye sharp. They will not really have a theme other than something that caught my eye.

The first photo I am posting is shows construction next to the Highline. I was testing a new 15mm Pana/Leica lens I bought recently. I hope you enjoy.

The Tower of Babel