The Hunt: From a Condo in East Harlem to a House in the Suburbs

The Hunt: From a Condo in East Harlem to a House in the Suburbs

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Still, they liked the available penthouse for $649,000. Monthly charges were $900. The open house was packed. The couple made a full-price offer, but multiple offers came in. It later sold for $708,000.

Few suitable two-bedrooms were available. Most listings were in buildings that Ms. Charles had already turned down in her prior hunt, which she had conducted while living in her childhood home in New Rochelle. Her requirements, both times, were the same: a dog-friendly, doorman building with easy access to public transportation, plus a parking garage. Ms. Charles drives to work in the East Bronx, where she manages a physical therapy and rehabilitation facility. She and Mr. Rowe also wanted a building with few rental restrictions.

Many buildings had strict limits on rentals. Or layouts were impractical. “One had a spiral staircase, and that is not really a good idea if you’re carrying a baby,” Ms. Charles said.

The couple viewed a two-bedroom, two-bathroom apartment in their building, listed at $749,000, far over budget. Monthly charges were around $1,100. It later sold for $800,000.

A two-bedroom was available in the building where the couple lived, but the price was over their budget.

Credit
David Dee Delgado for The New York Times

Unlike his wife, Mr. Rowe had no interest in apartment-hunting. “A roof over my head, and I am fine,” he said. He works in Midtown as a property accountant.

By spring, a baby was on the way. They could not wait much longer. Ms. Charles thought, “Maybe we should look for a house.”

Concerned about baby expenses, they dropped the budget to $500,000, and told Mr. Molina to reorient the hunt to New Rochelle and surrounding towns.

Her mother still lives in the house where Ms. Charles grew up. “That’s where we do all our holidays, so I have a lot of fond memories of the area,” she said.

Mr. Molina found a lovely brick house in Mount Vernon. They drove up to see it.

“I never dealt with houses before,” Mr. Molina said. When they entered, they were surprised to find another house-hunting couple upstairs. “The other people were there for a long time,” he said. “They were there before us and left after us, and then another couple pulled up.”

A house in Mount Vernon had an attached garage and a backyard.

Credit
graphs by David Dee Delgado for The New York Times

The house included an attached garage, “which is not as easy to find as you think,” Ms. Charles said. She would be glad to avoid dealing with a snow-covered car in winter.

“It looks like a miniature version of the house I grew up in,” she said.

The yard appealed to Mr. Rowe. He imagined teaching their son to play football and ride a bicycle.

They bought the four-bedroom house for $445,000, arrived in late summer, and rented out the East Harlem one-bedroom. Baby Myles is now nearly two months old.

Ms. Charles likes having few neighbors in immediate proximity. As a member of her condo board, she heard plenty of gossip and complaints. “I work in health care — I listen to people complain all day long,” she said. “I would come home and somebody is complaining somebody left their stroller outside or there was a dog barking till 4 a.m.”

They are learning to decipher the trash rules, which require sorting and scheduling.

With so much space, as well as a grill, the two find themselves entertaining more. Some of their city friends don’t drive, so they pick them up at the Mount Vernon East train station, just over a mile away.

For his work commute, when his wife does not drive him, Mr. Rowe walks to and from the train station. In the city, he was used to a flat walk to the subway. “There’s a lot of hills in Mount Vernon,” he said.

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