I’m excited for this book, especially since it seems like this one might give me some guidance on homeownership:
I bought a three-story, wood-frame, two-family dwelling in the Bedford-Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn, and am preparing it for tenants. Bedford-Stuyvesant, until recently, was, in the words of one of my neighbors, “the ghetto of America” (slogan “Bed-Stuy, do or die”), but is now branded as Clinton Hill, which is branded as Fort Greene, which is branded as “Brownstone Brooklyn.” On two-block Claver Place the smell of ganja wafts most evenings. To the frustration of recent gentrifiers a Guyanese reggae club (Slogan: “Jah is living”) had been operating illegally, packing eight hundred people at twenty dollars a head into a backyard, with a cut, according to another neighbor, going to blind-eye-turning cops. It was here that I found my house and its large detached garage, on a 25-foot-by-127.5-foot lot. As the owner of a pickup truck and a small motorcycle I’ve always lusted after a garage in New York.
I bought the parcel for $710,000 with the help of a 2.25 percent line of credit with Wells Fargo, and began renovations with the intention of cash-out refinancing in six months, after upgrading the interiors and facade. The mortgage and rental numbers suggested I could have my garage for free. I would need to do some serious upgrading to make this happen. The initial appraiser’s report described a bathroom vanity “at the end of its economic life” and was kind in calling the kitchens’ appointments “economy grade.” I visited an appliance store a friend described as having “great prices” but left feeling lied to and gouged. Still, I needed to do something. I wanted the post-renovation apartments to be low maintenance, high quality, and beautiful, because, Jah knows, when things are beautiful they are loved and taken care of. But the more I shopped for the beautiful the more outraged I became.