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Ditching Bayside for Jersey City

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If 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.

Kathi Hommenick decided that the suburban vibe of Bayside, Queens wasn't for her anymore after her kids had all grown up and moved out. She loved Greenwich Village, but cost concerns led her to Jersey City. After a string of disappointing homes, she found one she liked and got the downtown city atmosphere she so sorely wanted.

-She was eager to leave her two-story detached wood frame house on a lovely, leafy street in Bayside, Queens. With the kids gone, there was no reason to stay in a neighborhood that seemed way too suburban.

-If I had all the money in the world, I would live in the middle of Greenwich Village.”
But she didn’t, so she decided that the next best place might well be downtown Jersey City.

-She wanted a brownstone or a brick row house with its own entrance and a yard for her terrier, Maggie. “Not having to walk her on winter mornings is a big plus,“ she said.

-Her price range was in the high $600,000s. People advised her to wait out the soft real estate market and sell her Queens house for a higher price before buying in Jersey City, but that seemed pointless. Prices rose in lockstep, so if she made $50,000 more on the Bayside sale, she said, she would end up spending $50,000 more on a Jersey City purchase.

-She saw a house she liked a lot on a pretty block of Coles Street. She appreciated its brick walls, tin ceilings and “weird add-ons,” including a deck reachable through only one room. It was listed at $619,000, with taxes of nearly $7,500 a year. But she was too late; the house quickly sold for $610,000.

-A house on Bright Street was listed at a low $560,000, with taxes of $7,000. But the layout was impractical.

-Fifth Street, however, overflowed with charm. A brick row house there had been carefully restored. The landscaped back garden, complete with koi pond, “looked like it belonged in Architectural Digest,” Ms. Homenick said. But she didn’t think the house was worth its asking price of $749,500, with taxes of $6,300. The sellers did not care to negotiate, she said. It’s still on the market.

-On the same Fifth Street block, she briefly considered a three-story condominium in a converted synagogue. The unit, once the rabbi’s dwelling, had its own entrance and seemed sufficiently private. But, because of Maggie, she was uneasy about sharing the yard. And she wasn’t keen on the small galley kitchen. The apartment later sold for its asking price, $569,000, with a monthly common charge of $375 and taxes of nearly $6,000 a year.

-Yet another house for sale on the block, a three-story brick row house, circa 1870, with a pretty bay window, was close to what Ms. Homenick wanted. It was listed for $695,000, with taxes of $4,800.

-In midsummer, Ms. Homenick bought the house for $650,000. Her Bayside property had sold for $655,000 to a newlywed couple, so it was an even swap, she said.

· This Time Around, Something Citified [NYT]