In the spring of 2013 we were living in a great apartment in Park Slope— spacious, great location (one block from the F train), a bit outdated, but a decent price. Though, while Park Slope is lovely, I could never get 100% into living there. Let’s face it— if you don’t have kids, you feel a bit out of place. So, after yet another rent increase, James and I set out to fulfill one of life’s major milestone— purchasing our first home. Our goal: a brownstone with at least 2 units— one that we could live in, and one to rent to offset our future mortgage.
In many ways, finding a house became a race against the clock. Brooklyn was (and still is) on fire in terms of real estate. Asking prices were going up by the month, and pretty much every home on the market was selling above asking or being scooped up by investors. My Dad always told me, the best time to buy real-estate is right now, so we put our nose to the brownstone (see what I did there?) and started looking.
During the week, we would check the real estate postings daily, then mount our bikes on the weekends to explore neighborhoods and attend open houses. We lost count after a while, but saw literally dozens of homes across the Brooklyn neighborhoods of Bushwick, Bedford-Stuyvesant, and Crown Heights.
While there were many homes for sale, there was also plenty of complications and competition— everything from family disputes on ownership of the house being sold, to being outbid at the last minute by all cash offers. After deals on FOUR other homes fell through, we finally found the one we own today— a 2-family brownstone located in the historic neighborhood of Stuyvesant Heights (the Stuyvesant of Bedford-Stuyvesant).
The house, as you will see, is beautiful — but was definitely a fixer-upper! After years of use as a rental, much of its former glory had faded. However, it had “good bones” as they say, and retained many of its original details which are often missing after 100+ years of occupancy.
On August 15th, 2014, we got the keys and haven’t had a lazy weekend since. Now two years in, we’ve made a lot of progress, but still have a long way to go. Fortunately, we took photos along most of the journey, which I’m finally getting around to presenting to you in the form of this blog. Moving forward, we hope to have regular updates on our progress, but I’ll also be posting Renovation Rewinds to show you how much things have changed so far.
Thanks for reading, and enjoy!