The first time Kelsey Parsons and Matt Latessa shared an apartment, it was for a week.
Ms. Parsons was living in an East Harlem rental with three roommates when Mr. Latessa, a college friend of one roommate, slept on their sofa during a trip to the city from Lancaster, Pa. As the two had already met in passing, he was aware of the “cute roommate,” and happy to crash there.
“That option was more interesting than going to Hampton Inn,” Ms. Parsons said.
Their relationship blossomed, and Mr. Latessa soon moved to New York, where the couple lived in a fifth-floor walk-up in Harlem, while he attended graduate school. A few years later they married and headed to London for Ms. Parsons’s graduate degree.
When they returned to New York last year, they landed in an Airbnb in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, while they looked for a place to buy. They were ready to stay put.
“We wanted to put down roots in New York,” said Ms. Parsons, 31, who is from Toronto and works remotely for a communications company focused on immigration and refugee issues. Mr. Latessa, 32, a college counselor at a charter high school in East Harlem, is from the Cincinnati suburbs.
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The couple had saved money, and had also received an inheritance from Mr. Latessa’s mother, who died last year after a long illness. It was her wish that the inheritance be used to buy a home.
“I am honoring her legacy,” he said. “It was with her good graces that we were able to get this investment for ourselves.”
With a budget of up to $500,000 — although they preferred to spend less than $400,000 — the couple couldn’t quite afford what they wanted in the neighborhoods they knew and liked, Harlem and Bed-Stuy. But they discovered that they could in Riverdale, in the northwest corner of the Bronx.
Some friends had recently bought a place there, and Mr. Latessa was familiar with the area through his college admissions work, thanks to the area’s many high schools.
“I thought Riverdale was this wonderful, hidden gem,” he said. “It’s this great balance between affordability, accessibility and fun things to do. The value proposition is so much better in Riverdale.”
The couple searched Zillow, hoping to find a two-bedroom co-op unit with about 1,000 square feet, natural light and a view. The apartments they saw typically had a dining alcove, a second bathroom and plenty of closet space.
They contacted Scott Kriger, an associate broker at Brown Harris Stevens, showing him listings of interest. They wanted to stay within walking distance of the 1 train, so they stuck to the southernmost part of Riverdale, Spuyten Duyvil.
Among their options:
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