As a child growing up in Rego Park, Queens, Allison Small looked towards Manhattan and dreamed of owning a home there. Later, while studying at Binghamton University and Hofstra Law School, the dream persisted.

“Every time I was driving over the Whitestone Bridge,” she said, “I would turn to the city skyline and say, ‘someday’. ”

A few years ago, Mrs. Small, now 34, moved into a rental in Yorkville, paying $ 2,400 for a room in a building with no elevator. The tube ride to her office in the Financial District – she works in human resources for a bank – was 45 minutes, an improvement over the 90-minute ride on two subways from her old apartment in Queens.

Last year, she took a serious interest in buying a home and began to take an interest in areas not too north of the East Side. But with a budget of up to $ 550,000 for a co-op, she found she couldn’t afford more than a small studio.

“I didn’t want to save that kind of money if I wasn’t in love with the place,” she said.

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Then, to her surprise, Ms. Small’s grandmother left her an inheritance and she was able to increase her budget to $ 625,000. “I was her only grandson,” she says. “She knew I wanted to buy a seat.”

With her new limit set, she reached out to Joshua S. Garay of Garay Real Estate for help. “For a nice alcove studio, Allison was in the right price,” Garay said.

He suggested apartments near Beekman Place in the East 1950s, but Ms. Small found the surroundings too commercial. A one bedroom available there – totaling 800 square feet for $ 500,000, with a monthly maintenance of about $ 1,500 – was on a low floor, dark, and dungeon-like even with the lights on. They are heading south.

“We could walk into an apartment and Josh could tell me how much I would pay to renovate it,” said Small, who wanted the unit to move in. “In a few places, I was put off by the fact that the seller’s broker was only talking to him and not to me. In a few cases, they thought we were a couple.

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