Neighborhoods That Play Hard to Get


“I knew this was home, before we even saw the whole place,” said Ms. Jancuska, who was impressed by the bustle of activity in the park — neighbors practicing tai chi, couples dancing to Chinese pop and folk songs, early-morning soccer games. Other buyers felt the same — there were already three above-asking-price bids.

“The list time is getting shorter and shorter,” said Peter Bracichowicz, an associate broker at the Corcoran Group, who represented the sellers, an older Polish couple moving upstate.

Mr. Allen said they “put everything, and then some” down to seal the deal, outbidding the other buyers. Only two other units sold in the 69-unit building this year, and the next most recent sale was in 2012, according to StreetEasy.

For their effort, they got a 750-square-foot prewar apartment with vistas of the park. They join a building with about 20 children under 10, he said. The residents of the building, originally a Finnish co-op, still abide by the tradition of talkoot, a community exercise in which everyone works on beautification and maintenance projects.

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Forest Park serves several Queens neighborhoods, including Richmond Hill. With more than 500 acres, it features trails for horseback riding, an oak forest, a golf course and a closed road for cycling and walking.

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Christopher Gregory for The New York Times

“It’s a magical place,” Mr. Allen said, reflecting on an impromptu Monday concert in the courtyard, with a standup bass, trombone and drum set.

“It’s so much more diverse,” said Caroline Bailey, 49, a copywriter who bought in a nearby co-op in March, after renting in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn, where she said, “we had diversity, but it was all white people from different countries — like France.”

In her new building, the board meetings are conducted in both Chinese and English. “There’s a lot of waving, and gesturing, and smiling, too,” she said. She estimates that about 80 percent of the owners in her 36-unit co-op are of Chinese descent, plus a mix of Latinos and South Asians. That echoes the neighborhood’s two main streets, Eighth Avenue, a hub for Chinese immigrants mostly hailing from Fujian province, and Fifth Avenue, with many storefronts bearing signs in Spanish.

Securing a new home in low-turnover neighborhoods can take more than getting there first or waving a big wad of cash.

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Aaron and Alexandra Leeder with Vivienne on the stoop of their new home in Richmond Hill, which they bought from Mr. Gutierrez and Ms. Deeb. The couple had lived in Brooklyn but shifted boroughs for more space.

Credit
Christopher Gregory for The New York Times

In Richmond Hill, some residents are appalled by new owners who destroy historic elements of the mostly Victorian-style houses. In their case, Mr. Gutierrez and Ms. Deeb appealed to the seller’s love for the house. The couple vowed to keep the house intact, including stained-glass windows, original oak and maple floors and dentil molding. They hope their children, Chloe, 16, Amelia, 12, and 8-month-old Elliot, will take up the mantle one day.

It didn’t hurt that their agent, Regina Schaefer Santoro, an associate broker at Parkside Realty and a longtime resident, got Mr. Gutierrez in to see the house before it hit the market. Ms. Santoro is a friend of the seller, she said.

To buy their new home, Mr. Gutierrez and Ms. Deeb had to sell their old Richmond Hill house. The buyers: Aaron and Alexandra Leeder, former renters in Cobble Hill, Brooklyn.

“They wanted somebody who cared about the house,” said Mr. Leeder, 34, who works for TwentyPine, a job recruitment firm. Ms. Leeder, 32, is a preschool teacher who now cares for their daughter, 7-month-old Vivienne. They bought the Gutierrez-Deeb home, a 1920s detached three-bedroom, for $580,000 last year, in a deal arranged by Ms. Santoro.

Mr. Gutierrez said there was another offer on the table that was slightly higher. One of the deciding factors, he said, was a heartfelt letter from Ms. Leeder, about how she had grown up in nearby Forest Hills, and how she’d like to raise a family in the area.

“It was kind of a nice passing of the baton,” Mr. Leeder said.

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