Saturday, November 19, 2011

The Apartment Hunt - Day Three Million Or So

You know, I'm not the best person to go apartment hunting in Manhattan in this day and age.

When I moved back here in 1972 (we lived here at the tail end of the know, the one back there in the 40's), I lived with my aunt in Brooklyn  Heights for a couple of months.  Then she had friends who were looking to sublease their West Village apartment on Jane and Hudson, which I promptly jumped on, followed by getting my own (non-sublet) apartment in the same building.  Not too long after that, one of the original subletters (my pal Charles) moved in on West 11th Street with his new lady Casey, and they discovered that I could get a better apartment in THEIR building, so I moved.  I lived there for years, and then we bought the Charles Street house after my father died and I had some money.

Now, the way I got my three apartments was that I signed my name to the lease and paid them one month's security and the first month's rent.  THAT WAS IT.  That was all I did.  And then we lived in the Charles Street house for 18 years.

I am here to tell you that things have gotten very strange out there in apartment land.  Their requirements are horrendous.  They want you to have 40 times the monthly rent sitting in your bank account.  They do not believe in trust funds...a landlord remarked to my realtor that "Oh, a trust fund.  Well, they come and go."  Um, no, they don't.  That's why they're called TRUST funds.  Mine, for instance, is backed by a very large bank.  It doesn't go much of anywhere.

And then comes the part that utterly fascinates me...the credit rating.  You have to understand that I tend to be a complette innocent about money, and have learned about it through extremely painful trial and error.  My father brought me up to never touch the stuff.  I never had an allowance; any time I wanted something I was told to simply sign Daddy's name.  Which I did.  It never occurred to me to ask how the bills got paid, because it certainly wasn't encouraged.  To this day, Bill the trustee keeps up the same nonsense...I have absolutely no idea how much is in my trust (in excess, at the moment, of $500,000, I know).  I have never been allowed (by Daddy's wishes) to see an accounting or get regular financial statements.

Of course, this ended me up in a hell of a mess when I got credit cards...somehow I missed the point about how you were supposed to PAY the bills.  Somehow in the back of my addled little head was the notion that you signed your name and the bills got paid...well, they always had, right? 

I finally got all the credit cards paid off and haven't had one in years.  These days, I work entirely in cash, and if I can't afford something, I either save up for it or talk myself out of getting it.

Which brings me to the credit rating problem.  It seems that in order to have good credit and be seen as a good risk, you have to be in debt to a credit card company.  I cannot be the only person on earth to whom this makes no sense whatsoever.  I pay my bills (electricity, cable, cell phone) on time, and I have no debt whatsoever.  Wouldn't you think this would qualify you as a prudent member of society?  Nope.  It seems to mark you as a deadbeat. 

So I've just been accepted by something called Insurent, whereby you have to pay them 102% of a month's rent so that they will insure that you pay the rent.  This, when we were perfectly willing to pay them six damn months of rent in advance! 

I am left deeply confused by all of this. 

The bright side is that there is something I've seen and things are moving, but I'm damned if I'm going to mention it until everything is in place.  Everybody cross your fingers at the top of your lungs!

And to all parents of children out there...TEACH YOUR CHILDREN ABOUT MONEY!  You may feel free to use me as a cautionary tale.

Love, Wendy

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I blame the absence of Lay-Away for the mentality of the GenXers, ergo the housing bubble, etc. They had the instant-gratification-demon to deal with. I feel your pain... being married and having house paid for... meant I never qualified for any assistance in putting my children thru college. Felt like... follow the rules, and you Will be penalized. Bah Humbug.
Happy house hunting... hope it's all sorted out before the non-stop cold begins.
My daughter is taking me to the Sundance Film Festival... can't wait.
Your #1 Fan,
Texas Beth