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PRESS - JACKSON HEIGHTS REAL ESTATE

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New York Post
Saturday, March 26, 2005

My New Home

By Lisa Keys

Freelancers seek more space
What they bought: Jackson Heights Two-Bedroom, $375K
Search time: 1 Year

When it came to purchasing a co-op, Ari Kreith and Ben Morss had a big strike against them. They're—gasp!—freelancers. Kelly's a theater director; Ben's a composer and a pianist.

(To a co-op board, that sentence reads: Ben and Kelly have unsteady incomes! They throw raucous rock 'n' roll parties!)

When they began their search last January, with a budget in the high $300s, buying "felt like the thing to do", says Ben, 35, noting that he and Ari are newlyweds. "It's a bold thrust toward adulthood."

Last March, the couple saw a brownstone floor-through with bay windows in Park Slope. They were ready to bid on the $439,000 place—but the selling broker saw their jobs and said "Don't bother."

Feeling desperate, Ari and Ben began bidding on places all over south Brookyn. Some were too expensive, others unsuitable.

"The whole point of being in New York is to do work that's artistically fulfilling." Ari says. "Having to do extra work just to pay for apartment seemed ridiculous."

The couple was still searching by Nov. 2. Disappointed by the election, "I just wanted to go someplace where I didn't feel like I was in the U.S. anymore," Ari says. That place was Jackson Heights.

Getting off the train, she felt transported to another country. "I fell in love with its diversity and vibrancy," she says. "The fact that I found solace in the streets made me think, 'Maybe we should live here.'"

The couple contacted Michael Carfagna, a broker who specializes in Jackson Heights. Ari and Ben were stunned by the selection.

"The places we saw we would've bought in Park Slope immediately," Ari says.

In January, they found a two-bedroom with a sunroom for $399,000.

When Ari walked into the large, newly renovated space, she thought, "I must live here." Soon they had an accepted offer of $375,000.

By the time they met the co-op board, they had learned how to show their freelancing was secure, stable, and, most significantly, quiet—Ben always practiced with headphones.

When the board took in their pitch, one of the members smiled. "The walls here are really thick," he responded.

"I play the bagpipes," added the board's treasurer.

That was music to Ari and Ben's ears.