February 20, 2008
Funny how fast things happen. A week ago I never dreamed I would be in urgent negotiations for a condo.
It started innocently enough. I invited friends for brunch Sunday -- a Hoboken first for me -- and we decided to walk around town seeing the neighborhoods and maybe take in an Open House or two. They live in the Ironbound of Newark, and are apartment junkies like me; the weather was reasonable, so this seemed like a nice entertainment for a Sunday afternoon.
We stopped in the first place and looked it over, were shown a different unit on a higher floor, and discussed the pro's and con's like reasonable people. We saw at least two other places, keeping our cool and taking the literature, promising to think it over. We had no intention of doing any more than discussing the prospects among ourselves and filing them in our memory banks to refer to at such time that anyone (me, really) was considering a move.
I have a lease that comes up in November and a house on the market in Alabama which obviously is not going to sell soon. The plan is that if the house were to sell this summer I might start househunting in earnest in Hoboken and buy the absolutely perfect place after a few months careful and exhaustive shopping.
But I did want my friends to see the condo conversion I had passed many times, a school building from the 1890's, and I wanted to look at an apartment. I had once been in the sales office, but there were no condos available to show at that time. This time it was different. There was one last one bedroom unit and an unusual two bedroom one decorated as a model they were showing in an Open House.
My heart, as Wordsworth said, lept up when I beheld the one-bedroom. Not exactly a rainbow in the sky, it was unique and charming. Only 640 square feet, it looked bigger because the ceilings are 14 1/2 feet high. All the apartments in this building are done up in state-of-the-art materials like marble (Carrera, no less. I've been to Carrera. This is obviously a sign.), the inevitable stainless steel appliances and granite countertops in the kitchen. Poking about in that little kitchen, I had a vision of myself cooking.
The building, pictured above, has a castle-like look, complete with turrets. The center section, with the turrets, is where the one-bedroom apartments are located, each with a turret at either end. The turrets amount to little more than elaborate bay windows, but they are an extraordinary feature of the small apartments, adding a certain je ne sais quoi in the charm department.
There is an elevator in the building, of course. There is a fitness center. There is a center courtyard with tables that looks like a wonderful party space. It is located just a few blocks from the A&P and half a block from the best place in Hoboken to buy homemade mozzarella.
I have notified my Alabama realtor that I want to re-list the Fairhope house. I decided to slash the price once more, still allowing me enough money to buy the Hoboken condo. Never mind that I won't break even on the amount I've invested in the old place over the years. It's an old house and that's the way things go. I just don't seem to be one of those people who make money on real estate. I can live with that.
Whether the Hoboken place is a great investment or not I cannot know. Somebody who lives here might be able to tell me. I'm probably too infatuated at the moment to know if I'm doing the right thing or not.