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Christine Norrie and Andrew Lis, a married couple; their daughter, Josie; and their dog, Orwell.

Linda Cook Mann, Benjamin James
Auguste Olson, Mark David & Co.
Anthony Dellecave, Citi Habitats

Norrie and Lis live with their toddler and their foxhound mix in a tiny two-bedroom fifth-floor walk-up on Thompson Street. When their lease expired this February, the two went month-to-month, paying $1,850, but will go as high as $2,450 for the right space. (They want to stay in the West Village but won’t pay more than that because they’re saving to buy a place.) Norrie, an artist at work on her next graphic novel, Breaking Up, could use more work space; she’d also love a dishwasher. Lis, who troops to the laundromat once a week, wouldn’t mind a washer and dryer in the building, and Josie looks forward to splashing around in a full-size tub instead of their current mini-version. (Orwell just wants to be loved.) The family tried Staten Island a couple of years back—in a three-story Victorian—but “nobody ever came out,” says Norrie. “This is how we want to raise our child. We want Josie to be a Village kid, and we’ll sacrifice space for that.”

Each broker had a week to find a place, and got one shot: one walk-through of one apartment.

82 Charles Street

Brokers: Linda Cook Mann (pictured) of Benjamin James and listing broker Maria Enns of
Apartment: One-bedroom, one-bath, fourth-floor walk-up (convertible to two-bedroom); co-op interview required.
Monthly rent: $2,400.

“This has been an enormous challenge. $2,400—that’s basically a studio! Even if you have a higher budget, you’ll still have to compromise.”

Christine: “This is a little larger than what we have now. Ours is pretty bright—it’s got east and west exposures—but this seems like it has light from all sides. I notice when there are shortcomings in apartments they say it’s European. We have a European bathtub; this has a real tub. The kitchen is lovely—I can’t get over the size of the sink! But where’s the dishwasher?”

Christine: “Going from a two-bedroom to a one-bedroom and putting up a wall feels like college again. The co-op interview sounds nerve-racking. The concept of living with people whom you need approval from is strange. But it could be good practice, since we do want to buy a co-op someday.”

101 Charles Street

Broker: Auguste Olson (pictured) of Mark David & Co.
Apartment: One-bedroom, one-bath, fourth-floor walk-up; pets allowed on a case-by-case basis.
Monthly rent: $2,600.

WHAT THE BROKER SAYS: “The vacancy rate in the West Village is astonishingly low—under 1.2 percent. Locking down a location was hard—I checked every hour, found a gem, and then watched it get rented.”

Andrew: “It’s cute! The washer-dryer in the bathroom is okay, but it can get steamy and noisy in there when it’s running.”
Christine: “Really? You didn’t like the washer and dryer?”
Andrew: “It’s there—I wouldn’t look a gift horse in the mouth.”
Christine: “This kitchen is glorious. Ours is gross—the floor is coming up.”
Andrew: “The schools are two blocks away—that’s good.”

Christine: “Is a washer-dryer and dishwasher worth boosting our rent by $750? For that price we could drop off our laundry and eat at Jane every day. I’m considering getting a studio, so the rent for that place plus this—and this is higher than our ceiling—that’s a lot. [But] I like this one better. If I had my way, I’d knock out that wall and make the bedroom smaller—”
Andrew: “—or divide the bedroom so we can have one for Josie.”
Christine: “The hallways are creepy.”

56 Morton Street

Brokers: Anthony Dellecave (above) and listing broker Ehud Eliasi, both of Citi Habitats.
Apartment: Two-bedroom third-floor walk-up; $2,500–$2,600.

“The search was a little tougher than I expected because they were looking for a two-bedroom for less than $3,000, but they were awesome and responsive to all my e-mails. I saw a lot of places that were dark and small, nothing that I felt comfortable putting a couple and a child in, but this one was a great find.”

Christine: “The kitchen’s nice and clean—there’s counter space. The master bedroom’s big enough for my drafting table. It feels like a real home, this one. I like this area—it’s quieter. Where we are now is noisy at night. We hear the college students screaming for world peace, and I support that, but … ”
Andrew: “I like it. I like it quite a bit.”
Christine: “It’s got a nice charm to it. As soon as I saw the façade outside, my heart started beating.”
Andrew: “What I really like is that Josie would have a room of her own. And we’d have a nice-size one. But the price is ‘to be determined’?”

Christine: “I love it—but there’s no tub! I’m bummed about the tub! It may seem so minimal to someone else, but Josie loves baths.”
Andrew: “Sooner or later she’s going to have to learn to take a shower, right?”
Christine: “The living room has no place for a dining table, and there’s no place to put it in the kitchen. We’d have to eat Japanese style.”

Anthony Dellecave and 56 Morton Street, though Christine says Mann’s attempts to stay within their range and attention to their calls and e-mails impressed them. And in the end, the family may not move after all.

Christine: “You know 99 percent of the time you’re not going to get everything you want, but you hope to see that 1 percent. We really liked the Morton Street building and the space, but our rent would’ve gone up $800 and we still wouldn’t have a tub, a dishwasher, or a washer-dryer. But now we know where we stand. We realize we have a nicer apartment than we thought we did. Our landlady’s great—she says we can give her a laundry list of what we want fixed.”

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