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Eight Happy Stories From the Recession

Andy Byers, production designer-artist, and Katherine Grandey, prop designer-artist
WHAT THEY BOUGHT: A one-bedroom loft with a dining room on the border of Clinton Hill–Bedford-Stuyvesant.
PRICE: $420,000.
Byers and Grandey were ardent savers, and when she got pregnant in 2007, they decided it was time to turn their stash into a down payment. As their new baby became a crawler, they also realized that a live-work loft full of art supplies wouldn’t work anymore (“She was pooping rhinestones,” says Grandey), and they started hunting for a condo below $400,000 that would leave them enough money for a separate studio. That led them to Williamsburg, but “the new condos there all seemed for single people and couples. Huge glass fronts where everyone could see in,” she says. “That’s like me driving a Hummer.” Then their broker, Corcoran’s Dennis McCarthy, showed them this loft. Rock-bottom interest rates and developer concessions got the asking price down from $465,000 to $420,000. Mortgage wrinkles—their rate wasn’t locked in, after all, and they scrambled to make the numbers work—nearly brought them to their knees, but they finally closed the deal. Though Grandey had once owned a house in Florida, it was Byers’ first purchase, and he says. “It worked in my favor not knowing how easy it could’ve been. My wife was really freaked out.”

Kimberly Richardson, teacher
WHAT SHE BOUGHT: A one-bedroom co-op in Little Neck.
PRICE: $169,000.
Richardson started looking in 2006, with specific requirements—a two-bedroom, under $200,000—and was outpriced even on the fringes of Queens. Last year, family members urged her to restart. When a colleague raved about Little Neck, Richardson—who had been avoiding brokers—started Googling, which led her to this complex. She outbid one lowball offer, and ended up paying the asking price, which had just been cut from $175,000. Her biggest surprise? Even a modest co-op now requires mountains of financial documentation. “It’s a pain in the rear end,” she says. “But everyone needs to protect themselves.”

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