"Quanta...like spit in the dust of a baseball field" - Cody

September 05, 2003

So you want to buy a home? In San Francisco???

My friend lent me a book all about home-buying. Since Jay is in the middle of the largest transaction of his life, I thought that I should learn a bit more about the whole process. This book, called The Everything Homebuying Book, is full of interesting tidbits of information. What I like most are the cute examples of home prices. "Let's say you estimate the price of the home at $110,000 to $125,000." Isn't that cute? Don't you want to just hug the author for being such a cute puppy?

Since Jay started the house search, I have taken to referring to huge sums of money with a single digit. When we looked at a two unit building on Alamo Square, I looked at the informational flyer and I was shocked. "This building is only seven?" I exclaimed, meaning that it would only cost $700,000 to buy.

We went to open houses in the city almost every Sunday. "There's a loft for four we should look at...The unit that smells like urine is only two...The one on Fell Street is only three, but it looks like it already fell over."

Now that he has finally settled on the place he wants, the intricacies of finance are making themselves known. Thanks to a handy spreadsheet he has developed over the years, Jay can calculate the exact monthly payment required for any mortgage, based on the current interest rates offered, and a range of house prices.

I began to be envious in a most childish and inappropriate way. I wanted an income that I could divvy up toward various expenses. When would I have to come up with a budget, and plug away at my numbers, knowing that careful management would make them grow and grow? I started to realize that money is a grown-up's toy, which makes it much more desirable than if it were just a universal language that we use to assign value to the world around us.

The homebuying process has driven home to me the fact that I am not rich. Sometimes when I wear nice clothes and walk around the city, I know that I am mistaken for a rich person. This used to happen when I had a lucrative job at an accounting firm, and I used to want to shout to the less well-dressed, that no, I don't have money, I'm just faking, I'm one of you. Now when I walk around in nice clothes, I savor the fact that I am mistaken for quality, because I know how far that is from the truth.

The fact is: Jay is not rich either. He is talented, hard-working, and prudent; he is solidly middle-class. The truly rich, whose money is not new and runs into figures that my mind cannot grasp, would never enter into the homeowning situation that Jay is attempting. For he is buying into a tenancy-in-common (TIC). This is a form of ownership where all the parties involved own the entire property together. The ownership is divided into shares commensurate with their investment, and they all pay off a single mortgage together. Without getting into the tedious details, TICs are more affordable and more risky than your standard single-owner mortgage, affordable because you share costs with other owners, and risky because if one person defaults, the rest have to come up with the mortgage payment.

Such a situation entails many complications in the buying process. For example, last Monday, Jay and I met with our three future neighbors/co-owners. We sat in the living room of our future house and discussed finances, the history of the building, current renovations underway, and future improvements. It was bizarre to sit with three strangers and the real estate brokers and talk candidly about personal information that I wouldn't feel comfortable revealing if all my sh** was hanging out, so to speak.

Here are some pictures of the future home of Cody and Jay, Inc. (just kidding, I'm not a party to the transaction, fyi).

The dining nook, looking toward the sun room.

The 50's vintage stove, focal point of the living room/kitchen/sun room complex.

From the kitchen, looking into the living room.

Living room shot.

Another living room shot.

Looking down the hall toward the front door.


More bathroom.


The view from the front door.


Posted by cbsisco at September 5, 2003 05:03 PM

wow....that is a really nice house. the equity will be a very good investment for the future, but yeah, basically between mortgage payments, real estate taxes, HOA fees (do they have mello roos taxes up in SF?), etc. money-watching will be the theme du jour. isn't insane how much paperwork you have to sign too?

Posted by: jade at August 26, 2003 08:53 AM

Place looks sweet. Where is it?

Posted by: sean at August 26, 2003 09:37 AM

oh wow, Cody! That house looks groovy. Good luck with this endeavor.

Posted by: kati at August 26, 2003 12:46 PM

I don't care what you say - anyone who buys a house with a sunroom is RICH!

Posted by: robyn at August 26, 2003 05:10 PM

Jade: the paperwork is insane. the escrow checklist has about 50 items on it. luckily, the property isn't in any special assessment districts, so the only taxes will be a hefty property tax payment, payable monthly.

Sean: it's between Noe and Castro, on 14th Street, about a block away from Ward St. 2.0.

Kati and Robyn: i can't wait to see you guys, i swear it will be soon. And about the rich thing, it's true you've got to have serious $$$ to buy a sun-porched house, but when say i rich, i mean filthy rich, like you inherit five houses and a million dollars rich, which won't happen to anyone i know ever. and they say that the classes mingle...

Posted by: cody at August 26, 2003 10:36 PM

nice location! and it looks gorgeous. i hope everything goes super smooth!

Posted by: michele at August 26, 2003 10:48 PM

this is beautiful. i am so excited to be your neighbor. mainly bc even though i've lived in the castro for a year i am still fascinated by a couple that can share shoes.

Posted by: didofoot at August 27, 2003 09:58 AM

sorry to disappoint didofoot, but we can only share shirts. my feet are too big and his waist is too small.

Posted by: cody at August 27, 2003 02:33 PM

The place is super cute and I am so excited for you guys... well, mostly Jay, because he will be the flat-owener, but also you because you get to live in such an awesome place in such a great location. If you need any help picking out housewares or furniture, or need help organizing/arranging, I'm your girl! ;)

Posted by: Kristina at August 28, 2003 11:50 AM

godDAMN. y'all are grown-ups now. congratulations.

Posted by: kt at August 29, 2003 05:20 PM

Hey Cody and Jay. Your new place is just awesome. So will you be having xmas dinner there? The next time we come to visit can the Mero's stay at your place? Grandma says that she will be selling her house and moving into your sunroom. Tom and Sue will have a place to stay on the weekends when its too hot to stay in Martinez. Love Deb, Grandma and Tom

Posted by: Debbie Mero at September 12, 2003 12:39 PM

Can't wait to throw a real bender at your new place. I'll bring the tequila and the beer bong. You bring the cranky neighbors.

Posted by: blah at September 24, 2003 10:05 AM

When do you move in?

Posted by: sean at September 24, 2003 10:53 AM

Thanks Debbie. You're welcome to come visit any time!

Sean, that depends on how long the bank takes to process all the paperwork, and based on Jay's conversations with a slow-minded bank representative, it could be a while. My bet: Nov. 1

Posted by: cody at September 24, 2003 05:15 PM

We have a closing date. A tentative one. One that could be derailed at any moment by forces larger than we can fathom. The date is Halloween.

So look out neighbors! We're not there yet, we're kind of normal, but we're on the move to whacky SF!

Posted by: cody at October 11, 2003 03:28 PM