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Seeking Extra Room While Avoiding the Chatty Doorman

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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.

Ana Del Castillo and Marc Amiel rented in Spuyten Duyvil in the Bronx for six years until the lack of space drove them to search for a place to buy. They initially wanted to buy a row house in the Mott Haven East Historic District on East 139th Street, but that just didn't work out for them when a deal fell through. After looking around the Bronx, they seemed a bit disenchanted with their options. That is, until a place in Riverdale opened up. They scooped it up, and Ana couldn't be happier, saying "I don’t ever have to talk to a doorman again."

Nearly two years ago, the couple negotiated a price of $325,000 for a two-story brick row house with a yard on East 139th Street. The place needed a gut renovation.

The deal fell through, possibly because the owner received a higher offer, the couple said. The house later sold for $350,000.

They had friends living at 1100 Grand Concourse, a prewar co-op building. Three-bedrooms and two-bedrooms were in the high and low $200,000s, respectively.

Over time, however, they watched prices in Riverdale fall, and decided again to see what they could afford there. Last summer they found a two-bedroom two-bath co-op at the Edmond Lee on Johnson Avenue. They visited during a heat wave; the pool appealed. On impulse, they agreed to a price of $359,000.

When there’s no furniture it always looks smaller,” Ms. Del Castillo said, “but we realized at the price we were buying, with the amount of work we had to do, it was the worst decision.” The appraisal was for $350,000, and the seller agreed to that lower price. But their lender refused financing because of unfiled building paperwork.

She had her eye on a listing for a three-bedroom two-bath fixer-upper listed at $395,000, on Independence Avenue in Spuyten Duyvil. It was advertised with something called a “walkout terrace.” They didn’t know what that was.
When she contacted the agent, she was told the price had just dropped to $325,000.
They were thrilled that they could enter the ground-floor apartment two ways: either through the lobby with the doorman, or via their own private door on the terrace.

The couple bought their apartment last winter for $310,000.

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