The Hunt: Searching for a Fixer-Upper

The Hunt: Searching for a Fixer-Upper

- in Real Estate

Later, farther south in Park Slope, she visited a duplex studio loft of around 700 square feet in a small condo building. It included a small balcony. The listing price was $625,000, with monthly charges in the mid $200s. She loved the open space and the balcony. But “the finishes were fairly new,” she said. “They were not my taste at all.”

The interior could easily be renovated. She was more concerned with the location of the sleeping area, just beneath the roof. “During the summer it would be incredibly hot and I would have to install a secondary air-handling system,” she said. The apartment later sold for $605,000.

“That place wasn’t for her,” said the listing agent, Susan Little, a saleswoman at the Corcoran Group. “It didn’t need a thing.” Ms. Asprea decided to continue the hunt with Ms. Little’s help.

“You can make no assumptions and no judgments until you are physically standing inside a space,” Ms. Asprea said. Pictures were deceptive, she said. “Everything is taken with a wide-angle lens.”

PARK SLOPE Indoors and out, the space was great, but the ventilation situation was a problem.

Danny Ghitis for The New York Times

Nor did pictures show anything but the inside of a unit, and maybe a building’s exterior. “You aren’t seeing the dingy basement or the broken windows or the common spaces,” she said. “Once you get there and all senses are engaged, that can make or break a place, too.”

Ms. Asprea instructed Ms. Little: “Show me the scary apartment nobody else is going to buy because they are afraid of a gut renovation.”

Last spring, a one-bedroom with a backyard became available in a small prewar condo building in South Park Slope.

“It was a whisper listing, which means it wasn’t a full-blown marketing launch,” Ms. Little said. The listing agent was showing it for an hour. “It was an apartment in estate-sale condition that needed everything,” Ms. Little said. “It was old, old, old.”

The price was $579,000, with monthly charges of just under $500. “I saw the potential,” Ms. Asprea said. She immediately offered the asking price, which was accepted.

SOUTH PARK SLOPE An interior that was “old, old, old” was begging for a designer’s touch.

Danny Ghitis for The New York Times

A month later, in San Juan, P.R., for a friend’s bachelorette party, she met Ronald Masso Ferret, 33, at a bar. He was an interior designer, too, as well as a contractor. They hit it off and planned for him — and his dog, Dara — to join her in New York.

Her apartment had been intended as a one-bedroom for one person. “What kind of cosmic joke is this?” she said. “It’s like somebody put a tornado in my life.” He helped design the interior. Ms. Asprea apologized profusely to the neighbors for the disruption and had the work done as quickly as possible. The couple arrived in the fall.

Ms. Asprea learned a few design lessons along the way. In the bathroom, she used a fixed piece of glass in front of part of the shower, instead of a shower door.

But the stall is so narrow that water splashes out of the opening to get in and out. She plans to add a door.

She also planned a shower head “at a normal human height, but I had to move it up eight inches to accommodate Ronald.”

The stacked washer and dryer are behind a pocket door in the hall. “I am in laundry heaven,” Ms. Asprea said. “I tell my friends who don’t have washer-dryers, ‘Do your laundry here.’ I can offer that now.”

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