Rebecca Goldberg Brodsky wanted to go back to Brooklyn after a move inspired by the pandemic. She missed New York City’s vibrancy and the relationships she made there as an interior designer.

Goldberg Brodsky and her spouse searched Brooklyn neighborhoods for six-months, but were unsuccessful with their $400,000. budget. They made the decision to relocate. “go all in,” She said that they had to move around their assets in order to spend more. Eventually, they found a three-floor apartment—it is located in what used to be a church—for $1.1 million Park Slope. Moved in Sept. 2021.

Goldberg Brodsky was thrilled to be able to live in a place with great public schools and a vibrant community. She even rolled her eyes at the outdated flooring and lead paint and the ridiculously high price. This was, up until she. “new” refrigerator didn’t work—and an exterminator found the apartment was infested with mice.

“It was a lot more expensive than we expected to be,” Goldberg Brodsky estimates that they spent approximately $30,000 on their kitchen renovation. “We’re very fortunate in many ways in that we did make more money during COVID, and we could band together to make this work.”

Rebecca Goldberg Brodsky

Soon, the plans of spending their renovation money on new paint and flooring fell apart. Goldberg Brodsky and Herman Brodsky had to spend thousands of dollars verminproofing their home with metal mesh and replacing old windows.

They’re far from alone. In today’s housing market, even a price tag of over $1 million doesn’t guarantee buyers a luxury home in some areas. In fact, many are finding they have to shell out more after the purchase—potentially tens of thousand of dollars—to make their new homes livable.

Many homeowners are looking to make small cosmetic changes to their kitchens or paint their bedrooms, just as Goldberg Brodsky intended. With the housing market booming and many buyers looking for the best deal, it was common to spend seven figures on a home.

“I’m okay with it mentally as long as this economy holds up, and it doesn’t turn out to be a catastrophic event,” says Goldberg Brodsky. “My hope is five, 10 years from now I can say it was worth it.”

Houses are getting smaller—and older

In booming markets like Dallas, Phoenix, San Francisco (and surrounding areas), SeattleAccording to Zillow and other data sources, the cost per sq foot is increasing. millionHomes worth less than $150,000 are becoming smaller. The The average cost is $1.5 million The average home sold in the third trimester of 2022 was 2,959 sq.ft, compared with 3,342 sq.ft in the third trimester of 2020.

They’re also less likely to be pristine, turn-key builds, says Jeff Tucker, senior economist at Zillow. The Median age for a $1.5 million The home being sold is also significantly older, ranging from 28 years in 2020 to 35 in 2022.

“The caliber or the size and quality of homes that will sell for $1.5 million have all really fallen because the overall price levels have pushed so very high in the past couple years,” Tucker. “Homes that look surprisingly normal rather than lavish mansions are now selling at this pretty extraordinary price point.”

An older home doesn’t necessarily mean it’s in bad shape. However, it increases the chance that your home will require some updates to make it modern. Particularly in pricey West Coast markets, $1.5 million “can be just enough to buy a bit of a fixer-upper,” Tucker.

“People might be paying that much for a home and finding decades-old heating systems or electrical systems,” Tucker. “Not only have they spent $1.5 million on the home, they need to turn around and shell out tens of thousands of dollars on major system repairs.”

A home in Seattle’s most exclusive neighborhoods would have cost at least $1.5 million a few years ago. million Tucker will only accept Tucker if Tucker finds something that is truly special or unique about the area. Whole neighborhoods can now be priced at this level.

Amanda McAvena and her husband spent more than double that—$3.5 million—for a townhouse in Brooklyn last year that’s had to undergo its fair share of renovations. McAvena had to redo her kitchen, just like Goldberg Brodsky.

“The listing photos, they did a pretty good job, but…there wasn’t even basic things to live with, the stove barely worked,” McAvena said. McAvena says that her husband and she soon had to replace the cabinets and main water pipe in their home, as well as the windows.

It is disappointing, says the 36-yearold, especially because her husband and she have been saving since their 20s to purchase their new home.

“There was no family support network, there was no gifting,” She says. “We put all of that savings into this, and we have pink bathrooms. Our hot water tank went out right away. It certainly is not a glamorous house.”

McAvena is certain that they will be able to recoup their investment. They intend to live in the house for 20-30 years and raise their children there, as well as enjoy all the amenities the area has to offer.

Goldberg Brodsky is also free of regrets. She feels a deep attachment to her neighborhood, and she couldn’t picture living anywhere but NYC.

“We’ve made peace with what we can do. We’ve made memories regardless,” She says. “If anything, it can only go up from here.”

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