The Hunt: Priced Out of Park Slope

The Hunt: Priced Out of Park Slope

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Then one day last fall, Ms. Harari and Dr. Buchnea, a physician, arrived home to find a for-sale sign on their building. The couple, who are in their mid-30s and met as teenagers when they were lifeguards at a neighborhood pool in Toronto, were almost relieved to have an excuse to leave.

Ms. Harari and Dr. Buchnea’s kitchen.

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Andrea Mohin/The New York Times

They decided that it made sense to buy a home, given how high rents were, so Ms. Harari contacted Sam Gogolak, a licensed salesman at the Corcoran Group, whom she knew through the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research, where they both volunteer.

With a budget of around $850,000, she and Dr. Buchnea hoped to find a two-bedroom, two-bathroom condominium with outdoor space. Ms. Harari planned to use the second bedroom as an office for her silk-bandanna company, Squar’d Away. (She donates a portion of the proceeds to the Fox Foundation.)

Dr. Buchnea wanted to remain within easy bicycling distance of Kings County Hospital, where he specializes in pulmonary and critical care.

CLINTON HILL A two-bedroom was big and homey, but over budget.

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Andrea Mohin/The New York Times

After touring a few places, the couple were encouraged. “We weren’t overly optimistic when we started,” Dr. Buchnea said. “But we realized there was nice stuff that we could see ourselves getting.”

Still, Park Slope and the surrounding neighborhoods yielded few options in their price range, which by now had grown to around $1 million. “There is an insane level of demand in Park Slope, which pushes the prices up in neighboring areas,” Mr. Gogolak said.

He steered them toward Clinton Hill. “Two-bedrooms in Clinton Hill straddle the line of the million mark,” he said, making it “a desirable neighborhood for first-time home buyers.”

CLINTON HILL Two terraces plus a private roof deck were a rarity, and the price was bid up.

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Andrea Mohin/The New York Times

Last fall, the couple saw a two-bedroom condo in a small building on Greene Avenue that opened in 2014. They liked the fenced-in backyard and the two sinks in the master bathroom, but the asking price was $1.095 million, with monthly charges of almost $900.

“It felt big and homey at the same time, but it would have really stretched our budget,” Dr. Buchnea said. They submitted a “nothing-to-lose offer” of $1.05 million, which was declined. The unit was later taken off the market.

They soon found another two-bedroom they liked in another small building, on nearby Clifton Place, which opened in 2010. This apartment had two terraces as well as a private roof deck, and was listed at $1.025 million, with monthly charges of around $500.

CLINTON HILL A sight-unseen apartment seemed bigger and better in real life.

Credit
Andrea Mohin/The New York Times

The couple accompanied their offer of $1.04 million with a letter about their love for the apartment. The owners replied that they were sorry to decline, but they had an offer they couldn’t refuse.

“I couldn’t even be mad, because I would have done the same thing,” Ms. Harari said. That apartment sold for $1.095 million.

In the meantime, the couple had been scoping out a small new complex where a few units were already in contract. The model apartment had ample closet space, which was proving hard to find.

A few more units were released in the winter, while they were traveling abroad. Mr. Gogolak made a video of one and sent it to them.

“We had gotten pretty good at that point at being able to read off a floor plan,” Dr. Buchnea said. “We were pretty sure we would like it.”

So they bid, sight unseen, $20,000 over the asking price of $1.05 million (monthly charges were around $600). And this time, the apartment was theirs.

When they finally saw it, they were thrilled. The two-bedroom, two-bathroom unit was bigger than they expected. “We never really had counter space before,” Ms. Harari said.

The apartment required minor tweaks after they arrived in late spring, including work on the fuse box after a light bulb repeatedly blew. And a valve still has to be installed in the kitchen ductwork, to block cooking odors from neighbors.

The roof deck was designed with two private spaces for two apartments, but the couple and their neighbors use it as one big space. They revel in the quiet, and in their newfound friends.

“It’s kind of becoming summer camp, because everyone in the building is a first-time homeowner,” Dr. Buchnea said. “We get together and share stuff.”

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