Tips on Buying a House in Brooklyn Part 4 / by greg brophy

The Mortgage

When it was time to get a mortgage, our agent suggested the company we used for the mortgage. It was The Federal Savings Bank. The Broker was a little pushy, reminded me of Joe Pesci, and we went to his office to start the paper work. We had talked to him many times before that, but had never seen him in person. The office is so far out there in Queens, I thought I would be flying back home via JFK. It was a small dingy office from the 80’s, just like you would see in movies.

Eni was very nervous about signing with them; she had been reading a lot of books by Elizabeth Warren. I assured her that we are not getting the same type of loan that they are talking about (Variable Interest Rate loans are bad news). After almost two hours of signing papers we were done and out of there. Now it is just basically a waiting game as we wait for the mortgage to come through and the seller to finish what we asked him to finish.

Over the next month we check the progress on the house and I have a few concerns about whether they will finish everything on time. Our agent assures us that everything will be done on time, if not we can create an escrow (spoiler: don’t do that).  As we were leaving I saw that there was a pile of garbage in front of the door of the house. I asked why this was still here and what is under it. They basically had an old table covering a hole where the hatch to the basement used to be. I was pretty pissed. The whole house is completely unsecure and we are a week away from signing. The agent was embarrassed and told me that it would be fixed before we signed.

A month later and we get the final ok from the bank. We get ready to sign and plan a final walk through. A big mistake we made was doing too close to the end of the bank commitment and not spending enough time making sure that everything is fixed and working. We sent the inspector in there as well to make sure that the heating system was working. They had it turned off, you should have them turn it on at least a week before you sign and check to make sure it works, I will explain more about this later.

After the walkthrough, which took about 2 hours, we found many things wrong and wrote up a list for escrow. We showed up to the Banks attorney’s office on time. Just about everybody else was about an hour late, including our own lawyer. It took about an hour just to sign everything. So now we are down to the final details, things not yet done but that are in the contract. I would strongly advise when writing up the contract and the escrow to be as detailed as you possible can. Do not take anything for granted. When my lawyer asked the seller about creating an escrow in order to get these things fixed he said to our lawyer with a dead straight face “What’s the matter my word not good enough?” My lawyer laughed in his face and then said politely, no. This is a business transaction and that the seller as a businessman would never take someone’s word if he were purchasing property. How does that joke go again, “How do you say Fuck You in Brooklyn?” “Trust Me”. Our lawyer asks for an escrow of $2,500. The seller baulked and said $500. They went back and forth for a while and Eni interrupted saying that $1000 was sufficient and lets just leave it at that. The main problem with buying a house in a hot market as a first time homeowner without 20% down is that you are at everyone else’s mercy. You know you are going to get screwed but you have to deal with it anyway. If we did not need to buy a home, we would have walked away many times over. The seller agrees and we now own a house. We are officially Brooklynites.