A Dog-Friendly Co-op in Sunset Park, Brooklyn


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Michael Beattie and Marissa Tarallo with their dog, Bailey, in their new home.

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Sasha Maslov for The New York Times

Michael Beattie and Marissa Tarallo, traffic engineers who met at work, rented a one-bedroom on the garden level of a brownstone in Park Slope, Brooklyn. The rent was $2,100 a month. The place was dark and noisy. “It served its purpose, but we were ready to move on,” Mr. Beattie said.

Mr. Beattie, who is now 36, and Ms. Tarallo, 28, began the hunt nearly a year ago, with a budget of up to $700,000 for a sunny, dog-friendly one-bedroom co-op. Lacking much cash for a down payment, they intended to put 10 percent down.

They occasionally went to open houses for apartments in their neighborhood, even though they knew they could not afford the area. At one, they met Robert Schlederer, an associate broker at Douglas Elliman Real Estate, and enlisted his help.

“We went in there wide-eyed thinking this is a one-month process, we will have a bunch of houses to see, we will put an offer down and we will be done,” Mr. Beattie said.

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CLINTON HILL A one-bedroom was the goal and the Clinton Hill Co-ops had an appealing unit. Someone else bid higher.

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Sasha Maslov for The New York Times

The couple, who plan to marry next fall, were willing to expand to other areas of Brooklyn, preferably within a 45-minute commute to their office in Midtown East, with at least two train options.

At the Clinton Hill Co-ops, they were astounded by how far their money would go. They loved the first place they saw there, a large, sunny one-bedroom in move-in condition. At $549,000, it was well within their budget, with a monthly maintenance charge in the mid-$700s. The co-op allowed 10 percent down.

They bid $525,000 and then, when the sellers requested a best and highest offer, raised it to the low $600,000s. It sold to someone else for $680,000.

In Kensington on Albemarle Road, a one-bedroom converted to two was on a high floor of a prewar elevator co-op. The price was just $398,000, with monthly maintenance of almost $600. Before the couple could make an offer, it sold for $448,000.

They were discouraged to discover that their competition could afford far larger down payments. And they learned about the appraisal process and unanticipated costs such as mortgage insurance.

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KENSINGTON Another apartment, on Albemarle Road, was whisked away before the prospective buyers could make an offer.

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Sasha Maslov for The New York Times

The couple began to find the hunt so tedious that they were “unwilling to go through it again” should they have a baby, Ms. Tarallo said. So they decided to hunt for a bigger apartment — a two-bedroom — and to lower their budget to $600,000.

At open houses, they encountered the same couples. “You kind of develop this relationship with them,” Mr. Beattie said. “They all have the same horror stories. Everyone was in their late 20s or early 30s, they weren’t millionaires but everyone had a good job, they had a kid or were going to start a family.”

Still, those couples were the ones who “might prevent you from getting the apartment you want,” he said. And in the end, “You wonder if they got the place.”

Frustrated, Mr. Beattie and Ms. Tarallo considered hunting in Westchester County. There, “friends have a legitimate house — they have windows on all four sides,” Mr. Beattie said. But many suburbs lacked the neighborhood conveniences they wanted. “We work out all the time and we’re always hungry, and we look at these gorgeous towns and there’s four restaurants,” he said.

An option arose in Sunset Park, where a 950-square-foot two-bedroom, with a large dining room, occupied a sunny corner of a fourth-floor walk-up. “You can always renovate an old place, but you cannot create light,” Mr. Beattie said.

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SUNSET PARK Changing their wish to a two-bedroom, the buyers came upon a suitable place in a walk-up building.

Credit
Sasha Maslov for The New York Times

“The apartment was immaculate, but it didn’t present well,” Ms. Tarallo said. The bathroom, in particular, was outdated. On the other hand, the place could be reconfigured to a three-bedroom.

During their search, they’d managed to save enough for a 20 percent down payment. The listing price was $600,000, with maintenance of just under $700; they offered $550,000. Their best and highest offer was $575,000.

Their dog, Bailey, a cross between a Cavalier King Charles spaniel and a poodle, slept through the co-op board interview. The sale went through.

“It wasn’t a one-bedroom in an area they could barely afford,” Mr. Schlederer said. “It was almost a three-bedroom in an area they could really see growing.”

They moved in the heat of summer, vowing if they ever moved again to hire movers.

They have two subway lines to choose from, and their commute is 45 minutes on a good day. The variety of restaurants is not as great as in some other Brooklyn neighborhoods, so they jump on the bus.

“So many people warned us, ‘There will be something you hate after you move in,’ ” Ms. Tarallo said. There isn’t. “We are shocked at how much we love it.”

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