Jeanine Edwards always wanted to buy her own place, but as a lifelong New Yorker, she wasn’t sure it was possible. She felt weighed down by credit card debt and the difficulty of stretching her salary to cover school tuition for her daughter, Sadie, now 14.
The pair had been living in Manhattan for over a decade, most recently subletting a two-bedroom in Harlem, where they struggled with a rat infestation. As the median home price in the borough climbed over $1 million, a purchase felt increasingly out of reach.
“The thought of having to save $200,000 to put a down payment on a million-dollar apartment — it felt like it would only happen if I won the lottery,” Ms. Edwards, 38, said.
But when the pandemic hit, she got a job with Yahoo as an editor and writer. The healthy signing bonus allowed her to pull herself out of debt, and she began to tuck money away as the lockdown stretched on.
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Around the same time, fed up with the rat situation, she reached out to George Hermann, a broker with Oxford Property Group and a family friend, who encouraged her to look beyond Harlem. Yahoo’s offices are in Lower Manhattan, but when the company announced that workers could stay remote indefinitely, her concerns about a lengthy commute were lifted.
She turned her sights to Riverdale, the leafy Bronx enclave where home prices are less than half of those in Harlem. (In October, the median sale price was $410,000, according to the New York State Association of Realtors.)
“Most people in Manhattan don’t even know there’s northern Manhattan, and once you get above the George Washington Bridge, most people don’t know there’s anything up there at all,” Mr. Hermann said.
Having grown up in the Bronx, Ms. Edwards was well aware of it. After years of living in Manhattan, Riverdale seemed a little “too far from the mix,” she said. But Sadie’s school was there, and it suddenly seemed like the best option.
“I had never actually considered Riverdale, but I was sort of in a desperate moment,” she said. “And when I went to go look, I learned there were actually nice apartments up there, and I could get what I needed and not spend a million dollars.”
She set her budget at around $350,000, hoping for two generously sized bedrooms, good closet space and an elevator.
Among the homes she considered, all within a five-minute drive of Sadie’s school:
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