Three friends pooled their finances and bought a house together in Queens. Which did they choose?
Sebastian del Castillo spent the first half of 2022 scouring the internet for a home he and his partner, Silviana Russo, could afford in neighborhoods straddling the Queens-Brooklyn border. But despite their $750,000 budget, the couple, who rented in East Williamsburg, Brooklyn, kept emptying out.
“We thought, what can we find in our budget?” said Mr. del Castillo, 40.
“And the answer was nothing,” Ms Russo, 32, added.
Their friend Ben Loy was in a similar situation. Mr. Loy, 42, was eager to leave his cramped one-bedroom rental on Manhattan’s East Side. His budget was also around $750,000 and his search had been just as frustrating.
All three were looking for space to expand: Mr. Loy wanted a second bedroom to use as an office; Ms. Russo and Mr. del Castillo, who plan to have children, wanted space for a nursery.
One day, Mr. del Castillo started looking for homes for $1 million or more, just to see what was out there, and noticed that many listings in that range were for two-family homes. .
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What if the three friends teamed up for a purchase?
“Suddenly I was like, ‘Well, this is sustainable,'” said Mr. del Castillo, retail logistics manager. “I knew we could borrow to get a big enough mortgage to get a duplex on our own and rent out the other half, but we didn’t want to be landlords.”
Mr. Loy was intrigued. “It started out as half a joke, but the seeds have been planted,” he said. When the couple started sending him links for homes in Ridgewood, Queens, he got into it.
“It just made a lot of sense,” said software engineer Mr. Loy. “If I were to buy a condo or a co-op, I would have an HOA to manage, so might as well buy with friends.”
The trio, all fans of tabletop role-playing games like Dungeons & Dragons, met years ago at a game store in Williamsburg. “Ben is our couple friend,” said media producer Ms Russo. “Couples have dating friends, and our dating friend happens to be Ben.”
With their pooled funds, the trio could afford a two-family home for up to around $1.2 million in Queens’ up-and-coming Ridgewood neighborhood just across the border from Brooklyn. .
“I noticed about five years ago that Ridgewood was where a lot of people were going who were being kicked out of Bushwick,” Ms Russo said. “And I thought it was a good time to buy Ridgewood, because in five years it’s going to be too expensive.”
They contacted Sheila Fairweather, an Oxford Property Group broker, who was not surprised to find three friends buying together. “Both families are so common here,” she said. “Why go for a single family when you know someone who can live downstairs and split the mortgage?”
Both parties wanted to split the costs equally, so they aimed for a two-family home with units of comparable size and quality.
They also met with a lawyer and discussed contingencies. If, for example, Mr. Loy brought a partner into his home, he would continue to pay his full portion of the mortgage. If Ms. Russo and Mr. del Castillo had a baby, Mr. Loy said he would be eager to babysit. They all pledged not to offer their units as Airbnbs, and if one of them had to temporarily move out and sublet, the others would get a vote on the new roommate.
Among the properties they considered:
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