Sunday, August 24, 2008

The Million Dollar Hunt

This week's New York Times "Hunt" article by Joyce Cohen was an enlightening one for us... It details the real estate search of a nearly-40 year old couple, Nicolle and Jeff Pillartz, with a budget of $800,000 (although their final purchase at $1.07 million well exceeded that). Comfortable in their one-bedroom rental above Ray's Pizza on the Avenue of the Americas and 11th Street in Greenwich Village, they saved money with an end goal of becoming homeowners and, armed with knowledge, they set out to hunt in Brooklyn.

When we were entrenched in the hunt a year and a half ago (with a much more meager budget of $250,000 and below), I can't tell you how many times I uttered the words "I just wish we had more money to work with" after seeing some truly disappointing apartments (one seller didn't even bother to install a toilet seat for her open house... and her Inwood apartment was listed at $310,000).

So it was interesting to read about a couple whose constant goal throughout their hunt was to stay below $1 million to "avoid the 1 percent mansion tax." You'd think they'd be living large, looking at beautifully constructed brownstones or single-family houses, right? I guess sometimes my real estate mind is stuck in 1990, because their $1 million budget was only getting them in the door of 2-bedroom condos and co-ops near the waterfront in Brooklyn. Granted, it seems as if they weren't interested in hunting in off-the-beaten-path outer-borough neighborhoods in order to get more square footage.

Anyway, all's well that ends well. After looking at some older, smaller places, one of which was built by a developer who may have been involved in some shady code violation lawsuit, and another, which needed to be renovated, they fell in love with a 2-bedroom condo at One Brooklyn Bridge Park on the waterfront. After plunking down their $1.07 million, they are loving their new place, complete with washer/dryer and dishwasher. They are eagerly awaiting the completion of the 85-acre Brooklyn Bridge Park, which will literally fall directly in their backyard.

Apparently, no matter what your price point is when shopping around for real estate, the same frustrating struggles arise, and the same small joys bind us together. Mr. Pillartz states that he feels he's finally "made it" in New York because he now has a dishwasher. Amen to that Jeff! We renovated our kitchen and installed a dishwasher a year ago, and I still feel like a princess every time I load that sucker up!

Of course, since we are the BoogieDowner, we must compare what these hunters would have found around their price point had they looked in the Bronx:

A 5-bedroom co-op located at 5900 Arlington Avenue in Riverdale is listed at $999,000 and overlooks the Hudson River. This beauty has an actual bidet in one of its 3 bathrooms! Amenities include a healthclub, a pool, tennis courts, a dog park, a year round cafe, and, of course, a door man and concierge. View full listing here.

A fully renovated inside and out 5-bedroom house on City Island is listed at $929,000. This charming Colonial sprawls over two lots and features a backyard with a deck and a pool. View full listing here.

This luxury townhouse in Throgg's Neck listed for $789,000 comes in well under our $1 million parameters. This is a custom designed two family house with two 3-bedroom, 2-bathroom units with balconies. Only in the Bronx can you find beautiful new construction at this price point with the potential for rental income! View full listing here.


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