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In Which West to East Still Makes Sense

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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.

Christopher Leggat had a bit of a rocky time getting his feet on the ground in New York. After renting for a while, he decided to buy a place two years ago. At The Victoria in Greenwich Village, he thought he had a deal to buy the ideal apartment. Then, when he needed to pony up for a higher down payment, the entire deal fell through and he somehow ended up living in....Jersey City. Clearly realizing he had made a terrible choice, he once again ventured into the process of the hunt, looking for a two bedroom preferably close to the PATH. Lessons learned? Compromise is always right when there's a view involved. And a garbage disposal.

He intended to buy a place, so he went looking with Peter Comitini, a senior vice president of the Corcoran Group. He budgeted more than $1 million for a two-bedroom with a view and a location along the PATH train corridor, which meant Greenwich Village or Chelsea. Two years ago Dr. Leggat, now 42, decided on a two-bedroom sponsor apartment at the Victoria, a 1960s brick co-op at Fifth Avenue and 14th Street. The price was $1.2 million, with a monthly maintenance fee of around $2,500. A complete renovation was needed.

Dr. Leggat intended to make a 20 percent down payment. He didn’t mind when his bank upped it to 25 percent. But then, Mr. Comitini said, the appraiser “ticked a box saying ‘declining market,’ which was in my opinion not true at the time in Greenwich Village.” The required down payment rose to 35 percent, something Dr. Leggat discovered as he was about to leave for a three-week trip to Mount Kilimanjaro. The deal fell apart.

Dr. Leggat had already given notice to his landlord. Meanwhile rents had risen in Manhattan, so he reluctantly took a two-bedroom at a new building in Jersey City. His rent there, which also covered a parking space, was about $3,000. He walked to work.

Dr. Leggat resumed the hunt a year ago. This time prices were markedly higher. He could not resist visiting an open house at the Victoria apartment that got away; fully renovated, it sold for $1.495 million.

He was outbid on a two-bedroom co-op on a pretty Chelsea block, and another on a pretty Greenwich Village block. Both sold for around $1.2 million.

The place he liked the most, a co-op on Christopher Street, was “the single best combination of two units into one that I had seen,” he said. At $1.42 million, with maintenance of around $2,030, it was more expensive than the others, but he had saved so much by living in Jersey City that he increased his price range.

He was outbid there, too.

So they went farther east, checking out the Tempo, a new condominium on Second Avenue and 23rd Street.

One two-bedroom there had a view of a wall, but another — beyond his price range — had enormous windows affording a “suspension-bridge view of the East River,”
The apartment included some appealing features he had rarely seen in older co-op buildings: a garbage disposal, a washer-dryer and Verizon FiOS.Dr. Leggat bought the apartment for $1.65 million. Monthly charges are $1,800.

· A Place More in Keeping With the Plan [NYT]