A One-Bedroom Worth the Wait
Robert Wright for The New York Times
In his decade of living in New York City, Louis Broccoli moved about once a year. Most recently, Mr. Broccoli, a digital graphic designer, was renting a large one-bedroom in Peter Cooper Village for around $3,450 a month, and was eager to reduce his housing outlay.
Still, that would mean renting, not buying, he thought, so for help he contacted his friend Antonio Monteiro, a licensed salesman at Compass. “Louis never thought buying was feasible,” Mr. Monteiro said. “Renting seemed easier.”
But Mr. Monteiro’s calculations showed that mortgage payments for a co-op unit could well be less than rent payments. “It didn’t hurt to take a look,” Mr. Monteiro said. “Financially, it made sense, with tax deductibility and mortgage rates.”
MIDTOWN A large studio with an open-bookshelf partition was appealing, but other buyers thought so, too — and bid up the price.Credit…Robert Wright for The New York Times
With a budget of between $400,000 and $600,000, Mr. Broccoli, a 31-year-old graduate of the School of Visual Arts, hoped to find an apartment in a charming co-op building on the West Side — or better still, the Upper West Side. Someplace that would welcome Hunter, his 70-pound dog.
“The whole buying scene was new to me,” he said. “I didn’t know what to expect.”
Last winter, he found an apartment he liked in a building near Bryant Park. A large studio, it had an open bookshelf that separated the living and sleeping areas. It was listed at $455,000, with monthly maintenance of $725.
But after a week on the market, “the offers were rolling in,” Mr. Monteiro said. “The apartment was really well priced, and it drove a bidding war. I asked Louis, ‘What is the highest number where you would feel comfortable and have no regrets in terms of not going any higher?’” Mr. Broccoli offered $500,000, but the apartment sold for $518,000.
Soon after, he was outbid for a one-bedroom in Hell’s Kitchen. He offered $560,000, but the apartment sold for the asking price, $580,000.
Low prices, he learned, often meant high monthly maintenance fees. And on the West Side, he was finding mostly small studios or fixer-uppers in his budget. So he decided to focus on areas around Midtown East, within walking distance of his office near Grand Central Terminal. That way, he said, “I could save on a MetroCard, and come home and walk my dog if I wanted to.”
One option was a studio with a dressing area, an estate sale in a Park Avenue building in the 30s. The asking price was $475,000, with maintenance of $925. The floor plan lent itself to the construction of a wall to create two rooms — or so it seemed.
Envisioning what a place would look like was “the fun part for me,” Mr. Broccoli said. In this case, based on a floor plan, he said, “I had a whole renovation in mind, but I underestimated how small it would be.” The apartment later sold for the asking price.
He briefly considered an alcove studio in a postwar building in Murray Hill, because he thought Hunter would like the terrace. But he decided the building lacked character.
“I checked StreetEasy every day, like a maniac,” Mr. Broccoli said. In the spring, he found a promising listing for a corner one-bedroom in Tudor City, a residential complex on far East 42nd Street, just 15 minutes from his office. It was in excellent condition, and the asking price was $525,000, with maintenance of around $1,100.
Mr. Broccoli was unable to attend the open house, as he had plans he couldn’t cancel, so Mr. Monteiro went in his place, taking video and reporting back. “I knew it was his apartment,” Mr. Monteiro said.
The video included the building’s lobby, where a dog of Hunter’s size happened to be passing through. Mr. Broccoli was encouraged. He made an offer of $560,000, sight unseen; it was one of several other offers, Mr. Monteiro said.
The owners, however, were wary about accepting an offer made by someone who hadn’t even seen the apartment. So Mr. Broccoli arrived early the next morning to visit in person. Then he increased his offer to $583,000. It was accepted.
“I had such bad luck,” Mr. Broccoli said. “I typically put all my eggs in one basket, and that’s why I get so devastated when it doesn’t happen.”
Here, he would have to do little but paint the walls. “I have pretty large furniture, and everything would fit,” he said. “It had amazing closet space and a dishwasher — these little things that are important for functional living.”
Mr. Broccoli arrived in the summer. He painted the apartment in shades of gray, hung some shelves and added art.
Living so close to the United Nations, he has learned to always carry his driver’s license, in case he needs to show it to the police to get home; when the General Assembly is in session, security is tight.
But he rarely needs to use the subway anymore. And he no longer needs a dog walker. “Those savings have been awesome,” he said.