Guy Has Mortgage, Tells All
The following conversation took place on gchat, and has been edited by both parties for punctuation, capitalization, general readability, and intent. Some failed jokes have been taken out (some have been left in).
Logan Sachon: Adam Frucci. You are a 29-year-old person with a mortgage in Brooklyn. What’s that like?
Adam Frucci: It’s great, for the most part! I like being able to do whatever I want to my place. And feel like I’ve made a Grown-Up Investment. It’s only lousy when I need to fix something and pay for it myself, but that doesn’t happen super often.
Logan: What have you had to fix?
Adam: Well, we had some pretty bad leak damage from the hurricane, and some before that as well, but that was all covered by the builders warranty so it ended up being a lot like renting: I waited way too long for some lazy dudes to do a half-assed job fixing it, but I didn’t have to pay anything. But things like scuffed up/scratched flooring I know will be on me to fix down the line when it comes time to sell. And scratched doors and cabinets, that sort of thing. I haven’t really had to pay to fix much myself, but I am just more aware of the general wear and tear of the apartment.
Logan: You don’t make homeownership sound very sexy. “I’m more aware of scuffs.”
Adam: Haha sorry! It’s not that sexy, I don’t think? It’s about as sexy as preparing your taxes well and early.
Logan: Can we talk about how ownership came about for you? What made you think you could own a little piece of New York City?
Adam: Well, I was looking to rent and was looking at places in Prospect Heights, where I had been living and wanted to keep living. And there was a new building that I kept walking past, and I went to an open house kind of on a whim. It was the first time I really did the math and realized that the mortgage payment from buying would actually be a bit less than the places I was looking at, and the apartment would be nicer. This was also when the First-Time Homebuyer’s Tax Credit* was available, which made the whole thing seem more attractive. And as a huge fan/booster of Prospect Heights, I was (and am) a firm believer that it would be a smart place to buy as it was getting nicer by the week. And it has! So it all just kind of fell into place. I was lucky enough to have saved up some money from some overpaying pre-recession freelance blogging gigs and was able to pay the down payment and that was that.
* First-Time Homebuyer’s Tax Credit: This was that thing in 2008 that was passed by Congress to encourage people to borrow money and buy houses and stimulate the economy. Buyers could get up to $8,000 written off against their taxes or, if they didn’t owe, refunded to them, as cash.
Logan: Did you know you were saving for a down payment?
Adam: I mean, my parents were always drilling it into my head that I should save for a down payment at some point, but I assumed I was a few years off. But I do owe them — they basically harassed me until I set up an IRA, which let me put money in every year tax-free and then take it all out with no penalty to buy my first home. So yes, I was saving for a down payment, but I didn’t think it would happen until I was in my 30s.
Logan: So you were always going to be a homeowner. This was always going to happen for you.
Adam: Haha it was my DESTINY. I grew up moving every 5 years; my parents have some weird version of real estate wanderlust where they just love moving, so it’s kind of in my blood, maybe?
Logan: You said it seemed like a better deal to buy than to rent, which I feel is something that people say, but is it actually true?
Adam: I mean, my mortgage payment is less than I would pay in rent for this apartment, to be sure. And then there’s the whole investment thing, even though a good 75% of my mortgage payments go towards interest at this point. But I do know I’ll get a chunk of cash whenever I decide to sell, so in the end I think it’s a way better deal. Provided your home value doesn’t go down, of course, which is certainly not guaranteed. But I felt pretty safe about this neighborhood. NYC feels like a whole different world, real-estate wise, than like, suburban Tempe.
Logan: Oh I thought that was guaranteed in New York, basically?
Adam: Haha, that’s the idea!
Logan: What about maintenance and taxes and utilities and all that? Can we talk numbers here?
Adam: Sure! Since my building was new and has no doorman or anything, my condo fee is pretty low, around $285. And also because it’s new, it’s got a tax abatement so my property taxes are almost nothing. Utilities are about what I paid when I rented, since it’s the same electricity/gas/internet coming in. Older buildings and buildings with lots of amenities have way higher condo fees, which I imagine are tough to justify. I wouldn’t be able to swing a $1,200 maintenance fee on top of mortgage payments.
Logan: Do your friends own things, too?
Adam: I have a few friends that also own, yes. Almost all of them also own in ugly new construction buildings like mine, because those are the cheapest to buy while still being pretty nice. I assume we’d all rather own parlor floors of brownstones, though.
Logan: Do you think less of your friends that are renters?
Adam: No! Of course not! That is crazy.
Logan: Oh.Well you should! We’re lazy and don’t have our shit together! Unlike youuuuu.
Adam: I would go back to renting after I sold this place if it seemed like it made the most sense. I don’t know if I’m an owner for life. But it makes sense for me now, so.
Logan: Have you painted and done DIY stuff? Knocked down any walls?
Adam: All the walls are painted, but otherwise not really. I may put in a tile backsplash over the stove if I can get my dad to help me. Very exciting!
Logan: I could help you with that. I watch a lot of HGTV.
Adam: OK, you bring the sledgehammer, I’ll buy a six-pack.
Logan: Thanks for answering all of my boring questions, Adam Frucci.
Adam: Talking about mortgages like an old fuck.
Logan: Asking about mortgages like an old fuck.
Adam: I guess we’re both boring.
Adam Frucci is the proprietor of Splitsider.