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In Which Renting Becomes Necessary in Brownstone Brooklyn

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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.

Michael and Dara Cass knew that Park Slope was the promised land when they began to grow their family. Fleeing Union Square for Brownstone Brooklyn seemed like the right choice, and they bought a 1,500 square foot two bedroom at 35 Prospect Park West for $1.25M. However, with more and more economic uncertainty, the prospect of being homeowners loss its appeal. So, they decided this would be the perfect time to try actual brownstone living and rent a townhouse duplex or triplex. The process would be a lot more difficult than they predicted. But, in the end, they actually wound up getting a pretty good deal.

In the spring of 2007, they bought a two-bedroom for $1.25 million at 35 Prospect Park West, one of Park Slope’s few full-service doorman co-op buildings. But they quickly outgrew their 1,500 square feet. The dining room became a playroom, and they were planning to have a third child.

So, last summer, they determined to sell their co-op and hunt for a larger place to rent.
This time, expecting eventually to settle in a brownstone, they wanted to live in one, “to see if we hated it,” she said.

They sought a duplex or triplex rental with at least three bedrooms.

A stunning five-bedroom triplex on Carroll Street was filled with original details, including stained glass. By the time the Kasses saw it, the price was down to $8,900 a month (from $9,500). But it was simply too pricey and too big.

They needed two-thirds of the house at two-thirds of the price, Dr. Kass said. And that’s what they found on Clinton Street, not far away in Cobble Hill. A beautifully renovated triplex, with four bedrooms, was available for $6,500 a month. But someone else rented it before they could.

They realized that with rentals of the caliber they were seeking, rents were often not negotiable.

On Craigslist, up popped a listing for a duplex on Third Street, for $4,850 a month. It included a living area downstairs, three bedrooms upstairs, a bathroom on each floor and a deck off the master bedroom. The layout was perfect.

They had plenty of interest in their co-op, and sold it for $1.275 million using realdirect.com, which charges either a monthly fee of $395 or 1 percent of the sale price.
They signed a two-year lease on their new rental.


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