Property Grunt

Monday, April 20, 2009

Parents and Patience

As I have gotten older, I have become more fonder and more grateful of my parents. It is not just the news reports of people facing hard times but from my own personal experience of seeing others that I know who are in dire straits.

Which brings me to Joyce Cohen's lateset edition of the Hunt.

I knew I was going to like this Hunt when I read the following

LIVING at home with Mom and Dad at age 34? Oh, the indignity.

All he could think, Quamin Ellis said, was, “I can’t do this — I’m an adult.”

But it was even more unacceptable to pay rent. So Mr. Ellis opted for delayed gratification. If he had to return to the parental nest, he would, holding out until he could again buy an apartment.

After graduating from the State University at Albany,
Mr. Ellis returned to his childhood home — a brownstone in Prospect-Lefferts Gardens, Brooklyn, where his parents had reared four children — and landed a job in the field of legal publishing.

Quamnin graduated from a SUNY. That is awesome. The SUNY schools are best deals in town. It is added value galore since they are such great schools and their costs are so low. Even the application kicks ass.

I would like to present the following points of interest.

Two years later, in 1998, his father, a geriatrician, suggested he buy a place. So he did, with his father’s help — a 750-square-foot two-bedroom condominium for $87,000 in Prospect Heights.

He lived there for five years, first with a boyfriend and then alone. When he lost his job, he rented out the condo and moved back home. “Mom and Dad are my base,” he said. “When things go wrong, I can pop back over there.”

He then lived in Chelsea with a boyfriend, decided to indulge his interest in style and attended beauty school at the Aveda Institute. He is now a hairdresser for Bumble and bumble.

When his relationship ended, Mr. Ellis again returned to the parental nest, lacking the time and resources to find another place to live.

“I always intended to go back to my apartment in Prospect Heights,” he said. “I made a home of it and was superattached to it, but I couldn’t afford to keep it.”

For more than a year, he inhabited his childhood bedroom. His sister returned, too, along with her baby boy.

“I wasn’t used to being there with another adult sibling,” he said. “You think it’s bad as kids!” His nephew, adorable though he was, awakened every morning “screaming like a banshee.”

Mr. Ellis’s plan was to sell the condo and buy a smaller place for himself in the city. Last spring, he listed the unit with a friend, Jeff Gardner, an agent at the Corcoran Group, and requested that Mr. Gardner find him a new home.

The condo sold in the fall for $455,000. “It was totally sick and insane,” Mr. Ellis said, referring to his profit. He credited his father for suggesting that he buy a decade before, and himself for having no reason to disagree.

Quamnin was smart by not only listening to his father and buying an apartment he also showed he could put aside his pride by renting out his condo and moving back home. not once, not twice but three times. In the end it all paid off for him.

That one already had an accepted offer of $399,000. “The quality of everything was a notch below what you would expect, but it was a part of the education process,” Mr. Gardner said. “Quamin hadn’t really come to terms with what he could afford and had this idea he would be living downtown, but I said, ‘You have to be realistic — here is what $399,000 buys, and you don’t have $399,000.’ ”

Midtown it would be. “In the end, financials win out over location, as they often do,” said Mr. Gardner, whom Mr. Ellis termed “the voice of reason.”

Mr. Ellis bought his apartment — the Addison Hall studio that he liked — for the asking price, $299,000. (It was originally listed last spring for $359,000.) Monthly maintenance is $642. The board interview was informal, with one person meeting him at the Holiday Inn across the street.

With the market softening, “sellers couldn’t ask for the moon,” Mr. Ellis said. “That really worked in my favor. We had genius, genius, genius timing.”

Mr. Ellis moved in February, along with his affectionate cat, Misstress. He wouldn’t mind new kitchen cabinets and a redone bathroom, but is content for now. To his surprise, he loves his new Midtown West neighborhood. “The irony is, this was not even on my radar,” he said. “I had no idea.”

His parents are glad, in large part, that he is out on his own, he said. “I definitely miss them,” he said. “I’ve been trying to get home for Sunday dinner every week.”

Quamnin was willing set aside his emotions and focus on the numbers that he wanted. In time the market did correlate to his requirements. It took a while but he was able to pull it off. Yes, he lives in midtown and the location does not have the sexy factor of the West Village but Quamnin got that apartment for a steal. In the long term, he will make a profit when the housing kicks back up. Which won't be for awhile, however he is in a very good position since he bought at such a low price. The worst case scenario is that he has to move in with his parents again.

What Quamnin has done all his life is called living below your means. In the world of business that is called keeping your operating costs as low as possible.

It wasn't just luck that Quamnin was able to reap the benefits of this series events. By listening to his parents and exhibiting a huge amount of patience