Are we overthinking this? - Apartment Purchasing - Brooklyn Style
January 30, 2015 5:19 PM   Subscribe

My husband and I are saving for a down payment for an apartment. We (as many people in our income bracket) are feeling the heat of just not having enough to compete in the market. Hoping to cut through the rabble and get some feedback on recent buying experiences from people who have been successful in going through the process. We have some specific issues that we are hoping to get feedback on, contained within...

I am not new to apartment ownership. I owned two condos in DC, but NYC is an entirely different animal. This will be my husband's first purchase. We both have 800+ credit, no debt (other than my current condo, which is being sold) and are looking to purchase something no more than 800k. Our idea 'sweet spot' would be 650k. We are not planning to have children, but want a 1+ bedroom (either a full two bedroom, or a place that has another room that can be used for our shared office.)

We have a few limiters that make our available inventory smaller. My husband is mobility impaired, and we need to either live in an elevator building, or on a ground floor with minimal (1-3) stairs. His future mobility is unknown and at some point, he may need a scooter. (My husband has Primary-Progressive MS.)

Because of my husband's limited mobility, he also takes Access-A-Ride. If anyone here has had experiences with them, they are...a necessary evil. We currently live near Flatbush Ave on the Park Slope/Prospect Heights border. He works on W. 23rd. 2-3 hour rides are not uncommon. This leads me to our other limiter...

We want to stay in our neighborhood or as close to as possible. Fort Greene, Prospect Heights, North Slope, Clinton Hill Crown Heights, etc. (The devil you know...) We've had a few friends move out to Ditmas Park, Kensington and other neighborhoods and are loving it. We are both concerned that moving farther out is going to cause even longer AAR trips for him, and as it is, his days are very long. We both also like that given his mobility issues, he is still able to make short trips in our neighborhood, which gives him the feeling of freedom, however small. He is able to go to his barber, the local coffee shop, etc. We are additionally concerned that more residential neighborhoods may take this away from him. We briefly considered moving into Manhattan, but the monthly maintenance on many of the places we could afford the mortgage on was way too high.

So our questions are the following:

1. We currently have about 10% saved in terms of our target price range. We are attempting to save 20% but it's feeling like a mountain at the moment. I have a feeling we'll definitely be on the low end of the attractive buyer pool, even with the 20%. I'd also rather not pay PMI, though I have a feeling I could probably get it removed in a year or two given LTV/appreciation. Has anyone been successful in putting down less than 20% with strong credit and pre-qualified loan?

2. Are we being totally unrealistic to try to find something in the above neighborhoods for less than 800k for a 1 or 2 bedroom apartment? Our 'must-have' amenity, other than mobility accessible is to have a washer/dryer.

3. Can anyone recommend a great broker/realtor/lawyer who may be able to provide us specific guidance given our situation?

4. Are there other neighborhoods we aren't thinking of?

I've actually driven myself to exhaustion trying to suss out the best way forward, and I thought some outward feedback might give me perspective, even if that feedback is "Keep renting." or "You're going to have to move further out, your price point is off."

We currently live in a 3rd floor walk-up and while my husband hasn't fallen down the stairs, yet, we are anxious to get into a safer situation and would rather not have to transition out of our apartment into another rental.
posted by carmenghia to Home & Garden (3 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Is there a specific reason that you want to be in Brooklyn, rather than a place in Manhattan if you could afford it, or even Queens, which might not be any worse a ride?
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 5:48 PM on January 30, 2015

Response by poster: Not to thread sit, but to clarify - we have a very good support system (family/friends) locally, and it helps us both out greatly with my husband's disability. My husband is from Brooklyn, and other than a short stint in Manhattan for college, loves it here, and wants to stay. We genuinely love our neighborhood and built our lives here. He has family in Park Slope, Ditmas and Bensonhurst.

Manhattan could be an option, but so far we feel we are priced out of many places due to the high maintenance costs associated with many of the condos. A condo in Brooklyn with a 400 a month maintenance fee vs. one of the same price with a 1500 dollar one is a big factor in why we have moved Manhattan down the list.

Queens has been floated as an option, but we don't have any close family or friends there and that does factor into our decision.
posted by carmenghia at 5:57 PM on January 30, 2015

I don't have any specific real estate recommendations re: accessibility, but I was really happy with my realtor, Carolyn Cedar. Since her office is in Park Slope, that may be worth a look. I am happy to discuss more details about my real estate experience via Memail if you like, but fear my situation is not super relevant to yours. (Ditmas Park, high maintenance costs, more than 20% down.) Good luck!
posted by ferret branca at 4:25 PM on January 31, 2015

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