From the age of 8, when her parents moved her family to New Jersey from Queens, Danielle Gonzalez ached to get back to New York City. But she didn’t want to do it in a rental. Her father, whose family hails from Puerto Rico, and her mother, an immigrant from Colombia, had always encouraged her to own property.
“Growing up, I was always told, ‘If you can buy, then buy,’” said Ms. Gonzalez, 27, who works remotely as a digital communications strategy manager for a Mexico-based tequila brand. “I was always very aware of real estate as a way to build generational wealth.”
So she did buy, scraping together enough for a down payment on a two-bedroom apartment in Jersey City, N.J., for $400,000 shortly after graduating from Rutgers University. “The idea of buying in New York felt impossible, so I decided to get as close as I could,” she said.
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She took on a roommate to help with the mortgage payments, but always felt that her life was centered on the other side of the Holland Tunnel. “I found myself taking the PATH train into the city every day, whether it was to see my friends, go to happy hour or on a date,” she said.
By the summer of 2022, she figured that selling her apartment would leave her with a budget of up to $600,000 to buy a new place. She was willing to trade her larger space for a smaller one in Manhattan, but she had a few requirements: enough room for a designated work space, ample closet space and good natural light.
She initially looked at co-op buildings, but quickly soured on the complicated and invasive application process.
“She was really not a co-op buyer, but more so a condo buyer,” said Lucy Wu, a licensed real estate agent at Bond New York, who helped Ms. Gonzalez with her search. Because Ms. Gonzalez’s ability to buy was contingent on the sale of her New Jersey apartment, Ms. Wu advised her to avoid co-op boards, which typically prefer buyers with more liquid financials.
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“A co-op is excellent for a home you’re planning on staying in for five to 10 years,” Ms. Wu said, “but as a younger person just starting out in your career, you may not want to be so committed.”
Ms. Gonzalez wanted to be as close to Lower Manhattan as possible, near the restaurants, clubs and salsa classes that fill her social life.
Among the condos she considered:
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