It started as a large, free-floating group of friends, many of them expatriates and world travelers. Seeking to build a close-knit community in Brooklyn, they gathered every Sunday night at someone’s place for “family dinner.”
Last year, as proof of concept, a handful of the friends pooled their resources and bought a three-unit brownstone in Crown Heights. It was an inspiring development for a few of the others, who had been looking to upgrade their living situations. Rebecca Wilson, Tom Pryor and Andrew Moore were all renting in downtown Brooklyn high-rises when they decided to band together and buy a multifamily house where each would get an apartment.
“Being able to live next to people I trust and care about was really important to me,” said Mr. Moore, 37, who works in philanthropy and has lived around the world while working in the foreign service. Since the pandemic, he found himself living in New York for the first time.
He had met Ms. Wilson, who is from Australia and runs a small consulting company, through one of his business-school classmates. After a few years in a high-rise, “I was ready to eat my own arm off from the separation from the world,” Ms. Wilson, 48, said. “I was excited about having a communal life.”
And Ms. Wilson knew Mr. Pryor, 38, a fellow Australian who works in education technology.
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During the early part of the pandemic, Mr. Pryor, the youngest of seven children, was part of a nomadic bubble of friends who moved in and out of short-term rentals. Before that, he owned a townhouse in Oakland, Calif., that he shared with friends. “We had a Nick on every level of the house,” he said. “It was just a delight living with friends.”
Initially, more friends expressed interest in buying a house together. But over time, the three became serious. “The group formed very organically,” Mr. Pryor said.
So they went looking for a three- or four-family house in livable condition — they could always rent out an extra unit, if need be — and within walking distance of their Crown Heights friends. Each wanted a unit with one or two bedrooms. They discussed “how we were going to interact with one another in case of any disagreements or challenges,” Mr. Moore said, and how to handle future decisions, like what would happen if one of them wanted to sell.
Their budget ranged from $2 million to $3.5 million, with the cost to be divided according to the relative value of the units they chose.
The group sought the help of Roni Rose, an associate broker at the Corcoran Group, who warned them that inventory was low and competition stiff. “It was hard to find a place in the location everyone wanted, where each floor had the right setup, and which was in move-in condition,” Ms. Rose said.
Among their options:
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