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Eight Happy Stories From the Recession

Dennis Sarlo, content director for a travel website
WHAT HE BOUGHT: A one-bedroom co-op in Chelsea’s London Terrace.
PRICE: $418,000.
Sarlo, who rented in Chelsea and assumed he couldn’t afford to buy there, started looking in Brooklyn with a $400,000 budget. Then, in February 2009, he was laid off. Sarlo started killing time on real-estate websites, and watched Manhattan prices as they sank. By July, he was employed again, and found Halstead’s Mary Bezirjian at an open house. Soon after, she was showing him a London Terrace one-bedroom. Sarlo, drawn to the building’s cachet, stretched his bank account a little, and they settled about halfway between his budget and the asking price.

Tomoko Nagano, editor at a nonprofit
WHAT SHE BOUGHT: A one-bedroom co-op in Kensington.
PRICE: $270,000.
In the beginning, Nagano wanted nothing to do with co-ops and their invasive screenings. She was living in Brooklyn Heights, but her $300,000 budget took her to Williamsburg, where she soon made a deal for a not-yet-built condo—in a building that stalled last March. “I changed strategies,” she says: In the spring, she and broker Sandra Innocenzi of Charles Rutenberg Realty started looking in Kensington, and with two weeks left on her lease, she snagged a one-bedroom there, offering $255,000 and paying slightly more. Yes, the co-op review was onerous and intimidating. But she passed.

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