They Didn’t Need Fancy Amenities or a Garden, but Closets Would Be Nice. Which Brooklyn Condo Did They Choose?

For more than a decade, JV Mercanti and Joe Ferrari rented a sunny railroad apartment in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. Unlike many of the neighborhood’s ground-floor units, which had paved yards, this one came with a wraparound garden, which the couple revamped with their landlord’s permission.

They cleared the overgrowth, transforming the space into an oasis of herbs and native perennials, and left their extra iris bulbs in a box out front for neighbors to take. “Now our irises are all over the neighborhood,” said Mr. Mercanti, a theater professor and director at Pace University.

“It was a joyous place to live,” said Mr. Ferrari, who was so inspired by the garden that he quit his job as a retail executive and opened a garden shop called Tend Greenpoint.

The couple, now in their mid-40s, knew many of their neighbors and held many dinners and parties at home. But the building was on a loud corner, and the apartment had no closets. Also, the only interior door was to the bathroom.

That was a problem, because the couple didn’t keep the same hours. “Sometimes I watch horror movies, and that drives Joe crazy if he is in the bedroom listening to folk rock,” Mr. Mercanti said.

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One day, they calculated how much they had paid over the years in rent, which had risen to $2,800 a month from $2,100. Alarmed by the number — more than $400,000 — they decided it would be prudent to buy. So they began the hunt for a one-bedroom, with the help of a friend, Christophe Tedjasukmana, an associate broker at the Corcoran Group.

With a budget of up to $800,000, they couldn’t afford Greenpoint — or rather, “there were things in their price point, but they weren’t large enough,” Mr. Tedjasukmana said.

The couple hoped to find a place close to the G train, so Mr. Ferrari could walk from the Greenpoint Avenue station to his store and Mr. Mercanti could transfer to the A/C to get to his office in the financial district. They also wanted a bit more privacy. Otherwise, they were flexible.

“A bedroom door was a necessity, but everything else was kind of negotiable,” Mr. Mercanti said. They weren’t interested in fancy amenities and were willing to forgo garden space — Mr. Ferrari had plenty of plants to tend at his workplace.

They considered some ground-floor duplexes, which did often have garden space, but in one case they saw water on the floor of a basement utility room, which was enough to scare them off.

Among their options:

Find out what happened next by answering these two questions:

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