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Hitting all the Bullet Points in Harlem

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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.

Maryann Riordan was working as a dentist in Harlem and had been renting for a couple years, getting her financials in order before she decided to look for a place to buy. Once she had the money to make a purchase, she wanted to find a place within walking distance from her office. The hunt wasn't particularly lengthy or gruesome and she found a one-bedroom at the Savoy West on Lenox Avenue. Her offer for $425,000 was accepted but there were some financing issues when the apartment was appraised for only $390,000. This bump in the road paid off though, she negotiated the price down to $399,000.

Dr. Riordan’s priority for a new home was that it be within walking distance of her practice (which would also put her close to her parking place in the Riverton’s lot). She required a washer-dryer in the unit and some kind of outdoor space. Her budget was $400,000 to $450,000. Some of the one-bedrooms at Beacon Towers on 138th Street were duplexes with outdoor terraces. But the building was a co-op, and she didn’t want to be subjected to board restrictions.

Ellington on the Park, on Bradhurst Avenue and West 148th Street, was a condop, or a co-op operating under condominium rules. It was quite suitable, but just far enough from work to give Dr. Riordan pause.

Late last summer, she came across an ad for the Savoy West on Lenox Avenue at 138th Street, a five-story prewar building that had been renovated as a condominium four years ago. Unlike the area’s new high-rises, it blended in with the streetscape.

A one-bedroom was already in contract; another, larger, was too pricey. A third one-bedroom was rented to a tenant, but she was able to return a week later to see that one, a duplex of more than 1,000 square feet, with a spiral staircase and a large patio.

At $450,000, the place was at the top of her price range. Common charge and taxes were around $1,000 a month. She negotiated the price to $425,000 and signed the contract on a Friday afternoon.

But the apartment was appraised for only $390,000. “My lawyer said, ‘We will walk away,’ and I was, like, ‘I don’t want to walk away. I love the place!’ ” she said. She was able to renegotiate the price down to $390,000.

And then her financing fell through.

And then, within days, her financing was approved after all.

Dr. Riordan closed this spring, six months after she had originally planned.


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