Boom or bust? A Gay couple’s pursuit of a condo in Brooklyn

Architect Pedro Alcantara and his partner interior designer Eduardo Ferreira examined a Brooklyn condo during their search.
Heather Cassell

Brooklyn condominium sellers were up against a gay Brazilian-American architect and an interior designer couple during their race against inflation hunting for a potential investment property in New York’s hot housing market earlier this year.

Did the couple get priced out or did they get their dream home?

Gay City News followed Pedro Alcantara, 46, an interior designer, and Eduardo Ferreira, 35, an architect, with their gay realtor Matthew Bank as the couple raced against rising interest rates in New York’s tight housing market.

The couple’s names were changed to maintain their privacy at their request.

Bank is co-owner of gay-owned Chelsea real estate agency Bank Neary Real Estate.

“The market now is tough for buyers, but it’s also like a good time to rent,” said Alcantara.

If the hunt was successful, it would be the couple’s second investment property in New York. Alcantara and Ferreira own a rental condo in the Bronx while they continue to stay in their rent-stabilized Manhattan apartment.

The couple lived in the Bronx condo for two years, but the neighborhood wasn’t changing in the direction they wanted fast enough.

“It’s a great building,” said Ferreira, who hoped that “the neighborhood would change a little bit.”

The neighborhood changes the couple hoped for were underway, said Bank, who lives in the Bronx. But Alcantara and Ferreira had moved on. Priced out of Manhattan, they now had their eyes set on Brooklyn.

Alcantara and Ferreira were seeking move-in-ready, newly constructed condos in the Brooklyn neighborhoods of Bedford Stuyvesant (Bed-Stuy), Stuyvesant Heights, Bushwick, Prospect Park South, or Ocean Hill.

Their goal was to buy an investment property for around $500,000. However, their vision wasn’t an average investor transaction. The couple hoped someday to call the condo home sweet home in their golden years.

“We want to have some security for the future and have a property,” Ferreira said.

The couple had been looking with Bank since September 2021. While some New Yorkers enjoyed a lazy Sunday, Bank led the couple, with Gay City News in tow, sprinting up and down stairs looking at newly built and renovated condos. Alcantara and Ferreira weighed the pros and cons of each condo, from finishes to the location to the value based on their criteria.

Alcantara and Ferreira wanted a building with an elevator that was close to reliable public transportation with an easy commute, a washer and dryer in the unit, ample storage space, decent lighting, parking, and close to entertainment.

The couple’s and Bank’s trained eye for architecture and design called out developers’ flawed decisions and corner-cutting at nearly every building. Puzzled, they questioned why the developer chose to install expensive appliances without giving the same amount of care to evening out the tile edges. They questioned why there were fire escape stairwells in walkups rather than appealing entryways.

“No gay guys would ever buy something that was constructed by people with no taste,” Bank said after leaving one building where Alcantara and Ferreira firmly stated, “No!” They buzzed about how they would have to redo the entire condo because the design was so bad.

Bank, a native New Yorker, provided neighborhood history. The buildings were another story. Because most of the buildings were newly constructed, they didn’t have owner histories. There was no way of knowing about any potential hidden structural problems, he noted to Alcantara and Ferreira.

Every condo Alcantara and Ferreira saw out of the nearly 10 they visited that day had less than what they wanted and flaws that would possibly mean future upgrades. They faced weighing their best options or getting out of the market.

Alcantara and Ferreira went out with Bank one more time without Gay City News tagging along. They now had two options to bid on.

Alcantara and Ferreira’s top two choices were:

#1. Ocean Hill: 1325 Herkimer

The spacious one-bedroom condo in a 32-unit building offered a lot in the emerging neighborhood of Ocean Hill. The secured building offered ample storage space, an option for garage parking, a short walk to the subway station with multiple trains directly into Manhattan, and a rooftop deck and gym on site.

However, it was off two major busy streets, the subway ran under the building, the neighborhood wasn’t much to write home about, and one of the real estate agents made it sound like they wouldn’t be allowed to rent the condo. It was in their budget, but the monthly maintenance and taxes were higher than the couple liked.

#2. Bushwick: 1421 Hancock Street

The one-bedroom condo with a private rooftop terrace was in a boutique six-unit building packed with charm from the inside out. Located in Bushwick, one of Brooklyn’s hottest neighborhoods, the condo had quality finishings, a washer and dryer, and it was only a five-minute walk from the nearest subway station in a charming neighborhood.

The price tag was slightly more than the couple’s budget, but it had nearly everything they wanted. Alcantara and Ferreira placed an offer on 1421 Hancock Street.

However, a higher bid came in after the couple made their offer. Alcantara and Ferreira couldn’t match it or go higher. The seller took the higher offer.

It was the second time in a year that Alcantara and Ferreira were outbid on a condo. The market proved to be too much for the couple. They shelved their Brooklyn investment/retirement home dreams for the moment.