When Dean Bilyew and Paul Specht met 13 years ago on vacation in Provincetown, Mass., both were renting in New York.
Joining forces, they took a rental in Downtown Brooklyn, and later bought a two-bedroom duplex at the top of a boutique walkup condominium in Bedford-Stuyvesant. With its balconies and rooftop, it had four outdoor spaces, plus a view of the Empire State Building — well worth the climb.
Over time, though, the stairs became a hassle. And Mr. Bilyew, who works in banking technology, had a long commute to Jersey City. (Mr. Specht works in personal business management near Columbus Circle.)
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On the bright side, home prices in the area had “escalated insanely,” said Mr. Bilyew, an intrepid mover who has bought and sold property in Washington, D.C., and upstate New York. So the men, both now 50, sold the duplex and nearly doubled their money.
Three years ago, they bought a two-bedroom condo in a new building in Hoboken, N.J. The second-floor apartment had around 1,300 square feet. But tucked away in the southwest corner of Hoboken, the couple felt cooped up.
“You’re in a concrete jungle,” Mr. Specht said. “There’s no breeze, there’s no water. On the hottest of days, it’s like being in a frying pan.”
They also endured lead-footed upstairs neighbors and a busy corner filled with noise and traffic. So they leased a car and started venturing out. “It was like being 16 again, and you get your driver’s license,” Mr. Bilyew said.
Heading north along the Hudson River, they saw plenty of new residential construction. The buildings were filled with amenities — pools, gyms, classes, concierges, “and all this stuff we never had,” Mr. Bilyew said. “I was getting antsy and watching the market. I had a sense that it was time to move on.”
The couple set a budget in the low $1 million range for a nearby two-bedroom condo. And because they have plenty of visitors — Mr. Specht is the youngest of nine siblings — they wanted a dedicated guest room, plus an extra place for a TV, along with outdoor space.
The buildings they considered were all brand new:
A 10-minute walk from the Port Imperial ferry terminal, the building wasn’t yet completed when the men visited, and they toured it wearing hard hats.
They had their choice of units, and they liked the layouts, with bedrooms flanking the living area.
Prices for two-bedrooms were in the mid-$900,000 to $2.4 million range, and the building had a 20-year tax abatement.
Hanoben, a 15-minute walk from the waterfront, offered spacious three- and four-bedroom apartments with small balconies, large kitchens and private elevators.
The building had no doorman or concierge.
Prices started at around $1.5 million.
This condo was right next to the ferry terminal, and the units had numerous luxuries, from a “toe-kick nightlight” in the bathroom to a touchless toilet with a hand sensor.
“It was stunning,” Mr. Specht said. “You would think you were on Central Park West.”
Prices were pushing $2 million.
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