Isaac & Della B.
"We met Ellen on a whim. Lifelong homeowners in Westchester, we weren’t even in the market for a Manhattan home when we met. We had tagged along with a close friend who was perennially in the market for a better Manhattan apartment. Ellen was helping her in that quest. It turned out that none of us liked that one-bedroom, but in the process Ellen helped us reframe our perceptions. In a gentle way, she radically changed everything we thought we knew about New York real estate.
Where we once thought living in Manhattan was an improbable dream, now we could actually imagine moving there. In the process that started on those brownstone steps outside that apartment, Ellen had nurtured in us, and begun the seedwork to make that dream possible. She had connected us with a mortgage broker (Surprise! It turned out we actually could aﬀord moving house), began to understand the ideal space we would be looking for, and started a rich and informative conversation about how Manhattan real estate worked.
Ellen communed with us, and we began a series of well-thought-out ﬁeld trips designed to identify what kind of neighborhood we’d be happiest in, what locations met our transportation needs, where the services we would rely on could be accessed easiest. We went to open houses on our own, to ones that she earmarked for us, and to others by her invitation. She assigned “homework” where we’d ﬁll her in on our impressions, what we liked and disliked, and wished for when we saw apartments without her. All along, she was crafting a better understanding of what constituted our “ideal” place. Both “hits” and “misses” were constructive experiences that built our combined knowledge in the quest for the perfect Manhattan apartment.
We were looking for a place that could accommodate ourselves, our adult daughter, and my wife’s octogenarian mother. All this was factored into Ellen’s mind as she scoured the city for potential places for us to land. Additionally, her extensive experience and knowledge helped us envision what was a reasonable set of expectations for remodelling apartments to meet our complex needs. With her insights, we were able to put dollar amounts to these potential renovations to keep us within budget. She had an uncanny sense of the real estate market forces and what was a good value, versus what was inﬂated hubris. She also understood the diﬀerences between condo and co-op buildings and the pros and cons of the economics of each.
When we ﬁnally found a place we all loved, Ellen kept us in the game, guiding us in the bidding process. She suggested the novel idea of writing a letter to the sellers. She was crucial in our attempts to suss out the politics of condo boards, and in identifying and helping us to neutralize the sour communications of a particularly diﬃcult real estate agent representing the sellers.
Ultimately our situation was complicated by the fact that we needed to sell our house to make the ﬁnances work before we could buy the apartment we found. Negotiating on our behalf, Ellen worked out (unusual for New York City’s real estate market) a rent-to-own agreement with the sellers. And when the condo board balked at the original ﬁnancial package, Ellen connected with our mortgage banker and us and revised the ﬁnancing package and got the board to sign oﬀ on it and enables the sellers accept our revised oﬀer. In the end, we had two closings two days apart, and we were ﬁnally the proud owners of a new apartment into which we had moved six weeks earlier.
Throughout this real estate transformation on our part, Ellen was a resource, a coach, a cheerleader, and a friend. Her warmth, her sincerity, and her extensive knowledge and experience made her the ideal team player in our real estate move. We cannot imagine making the transition we did without her. She was reliable and invaluable throughout what would have otherwise have been a heart-wrenching, exhausting, and at times maddening process. She often told us when all was said and done, that we would be able to refer to our new place as “Home Sweet Home.” Over the seven months that have elapsed since closing on our ideal Manhattan apartment, we can’t imagine being anywhere else."