Emboldened Renters Explore Strange New World of Co-ops

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It's yours! All yours!
It's yours! All yours! Photo: iStockPhoto

Today's Observer takes a look at "long-suffering" Manhattanites who, refusing to buy property at exorbitant prices or move to Brooklyn, have spent years throwing their money away in the rental market (which is also your Daily Intel editors' preferred method of throwing money away — that, and lonely nights spent on Zappos.com). As prices finally drop and prospective buyers have increasing leverage for price negotiation, it's getting more and more feasible for the unwashed masses — those who can score a mortgage, anyhow — to actually own their lodgings.

So just how easy is it to buy a place nowadays?

The Observer talked to 27-year-old Antonio Palumbo and 25-year-old Joanna Cambareri, who have been engaged for two months. They signed an offer on a duplex on the Upper East Side (knocking $60,000 off the asking price — they were in the half-a-million market to begin with) and, when the paper talked to them, were interviewing with the co-op board. But there was no ritual grilling for these young lovebirds. “It was much less of a drill-down and an interrogation and much more of a conversation that just let us know that we were welcome in the building,” said Palumbo.

If the co-op's lack of skepticism over their age and relatively recent engagement isn't shocking enough, here's this detail: Palumbo is an IT manager at Blue Man Productions, and his bride-to-be is a digital sales associate at People.com. Yes, that's right: IT and media people. Under 30. Buying co-ops. On the Upper East Side. It's not quite de-gentrification, but for the chinchilla-clad old ladies uptown, it sure as hell feels like it.

The Last Laugh [NYO]