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In Which The Future Awaits in Greenpoint

01/21/2012, By Bilal Khan


In Which The Future Awaits in Greenpoint

thehuntschulson.jpgIf reading The Hunt stokes your deepest hopes that someday everything in life could work out, then you, too, are obsessed with the New York Times Sunday Real Estate section. Join us as we venture into the depths of this weekend's installment.

Beth and Ben Schulson were in a somewhat precarious situation, looking to buy an apartment for themselves but also keeping an eye out for when their family grows. At the time he was living in a basement apartment with garden in Greenpoint, paying just $800 per month in exchange for doing duty as a super for the building. When the time to buy came, they initially looked for a two bedroom for around $400K. As is typically the case in this kind of thing, that budget rose. Even with the higher budget, they got outbid on more than one occasion. They then decided that since they're going to need more space anyway, they might as well just it over with now. So, they bought two units in a building on Guernsey Street in Greenpoint, one for $419,000 and the other for $379,000. They plan on creating a duplex, but for now they're renting the second unit for $2,700/month.

They formulated a plan, aiming to buy a two-bedroom in the low $400,000s and stay there for around five years. That way, if they had a child, there would be room.

His requirement was outdoor space. Hers was a bathtub. “Every Friday night we would have a planning meeting for the weekend, and we would map out the open houses,” Mrs. Schulson said. There was so much new construction in the area, especially in adjacent Williamsburg, that there was lots to see.

For months, they spent every weekend on the hunt.

They contacted David Kazemi, a vice president of Bond New York, who was advertising a duplex with outdoor space. The place was too big and too expensive, so Mr. Kazemi showed them a ground-floor two-bedroom with about 600 square feet in a six-unit condominium building on Guernsey Street in Greenpoint. It had a bathtub. The backyard was gigantic. The price was $419,000.

They were interested. But an all-cash buyer got there first.

Other places lacked sufficient outdoor space. The price range inched up.The Factory Lofts in Williamsburg, a converted warehouse building, had two-bedrooms in the $600,000s, beyond their price range.

Nevertheless, “we made the mistake of going into the three-bedroom duplex,” listed at $875,000. It had a terrace and was beautifully staged. “That made me want a place we could live in long term,” Mrs. Schulson said. (The place later sold for $850,000.)

On North Seventh Street, a duplex with two bedrooms, convertible to three, with both a yard and a balcony, was listed at $639,000. The Schulsons went there intending to negotiate down.

It was beautiful, with plenty of closet space, and situated in prime Williamsburg. Others loved it, too. The Schulsons offered $671,000, the third-highest bid. “I was thankful that at least we placed,” Mrs. Schulson said. (The apartment sold for $710,000.)

Meanwhile, back at Guernsey Street, the cash offer had fallen through. Now, his thinking governed by the 30-year plan, Mr. Schulson suggested they make an offer not only on the ground-floor two-bedroom they had liked so much, but also on the similar one above it. His idea was to rent out the upstairs apartment and combine the places at some future date.

So the Schulsons bought the apartments for $419,000 and $379,000.

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