With this post we welcome a new blogger to the MFA team. Christa is a first time renter, born and raised in New York, and she’ll be telling us what it’s like when you call your landlord Mom.
Renting an apartment is a process that has the potential of hitting many highs and lows with all kinds of people you have to deal with. And when it comes to renting a condo, it’s the same story, unless your future landlord and the condo’s owner is your mother.
It’s kind of funny in a “meant to be” way how this journey started. I had been searching for an apartment for a year and a half with no luck. I live in New York so it proved to be challenging for me to find an affordable apartment with everything I wanted without the help of a broker. I refused to give a fee of a month’s rent to someone for doing something that I thought I could do on my own. I finally popped the bubble I was in and realized that this was an uphill battle I wasn’t going to win. Meanwhile, my mom had wanted to turn my bedroom into an office ever since I left for college, so she asked me if I would be willing to rent from her if she bought a condo. I thought she was nuts but she said she’d wanted to buy a condo for a while for its tax benefits. How could I say no to that? It would be a more stable agreement than renting from a random landlord and I could stay as long as I wanted or needed to. That means getting a condo should be a breeze, right? No. Not at all.
My mother decided to include me in every part of the process, which was a great learning experience. We started by looking online for listings and went to look at places on our own and with a real estate agent. I can’t even begin to describe some of the dumps we saw. My mom was strict about her $200,000 budget and she wanted a 2 bedroom so pickings were really slim. I started to get a little deflated, but after about three months of searching the agent finally found something with potential. I thought it was another dump but my mom saw its potential. The apartment was in a 4-story building (mom doesn’t like highrises), in my neighborhood of choice, and under budget. When I compared it to the other places we saw, there was no comparison. It has 2 full bedrooms, plenty of closet space, a workable single wall kitchen and an actual living room! Like a room that can fit two couches comfortably. Unheard of in NY! We started negotiations immediately.
My mother was looking for a place she could renovate but this one was a big mess with broken cabinets, holes in closets, and a front door with no knob or lock. Yep, you read that right. So my mom negotiated $10,000 off the asking price and after the final inspection revealed more problems, she got the seller to shave off another $2,000!
Continued on page two…