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She Wanted an Investment Property She Could Live In. Here’s Where She Found It.

She Wanted an Investment Property She Could Live In. Here’s Where She Found It.

Growing up in Singapore, Justine Chan always looked forward to buying real estate. “It was imbued in me by my parents that real estate was a wealth-management tool,” she said. “We don’t see it as just a place to live. We see it as asset-building.”

Ms. Chan, now 31, came to New York to study at New York University and later earned a business degree from Yale. Her first home purchase, when she was 25, was a small studio near Gramercy Park. She later sold it to someone like her — a young woman buying a starter home.

“She was exactly at the life stage I was in when I bought it,” Ms. Chan said. “I felt I was passing it on.”

She traded up to a bigger studio on West 34th Street. “I wanted it to be not just a primary residence but a buy-and-hold,” she said. So last year she prepared to rent the studio and move again.

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Her price range was $350,000 to $500,000, although her ideal top price was more like $400,000. “When I was hunting this time around, I realized my debt-to-income ratio was getting high, and I was capped as to what I could find,” she said.

Nearby public transportation was important. Ms. Chan, a strategy consultant for small-business startups, eliminated some Brooklyn neighborhoods that were tethered to one subway line or had lengthy rides to her usual destinations: Union Square, where she travels for work, and Chinatown, where she shops for groceries.

She preferred a condominium or a co-op with a liberal sublet policy, so she could rent her home, if need be. And she was open to a place big enough to accommodate a roommate who could offset some of the costs, allowing her to “take advantage of being an owner and an investor,” she said.

“Having my housing situation be low-cost is incredibly comforting,” she explained. “Owning real estate was one of the ways that made me feel more stable moving into self-employment.”

Parts of the South Bronx were appealing for the prices, the proximity to Manhattan and the convenience to the 2 and 5 trains.

Among her choices:

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