Storage space was important, too. The two, both 28, have plenty of sports equipment, including surfboards, skateboards, snowboards, camping gear and bicycles. Mr. Burke is a public school physical education teacher who also works as a lifeguard in summer and coaches lacrosse.
More than two years ago, Ms. Thorner emailed David Kazemi, a real estate salesman at Bond New York, about a small one-bedroom he had listed for $625,000. Their budget, she told him, was $500,000.
Nothing came of that, but half a year later, she emailed again, and the couple began hunting seriously with Mr. Kazemi, who specializes in Greenpoint.
The couple, who married last summer, sometimes found themselves disagreeing. Mr. Burke hated lofts, spiral staircases and basement bedrooms.
Ms. Thorner was willing to settle. “When you are in such a tough market, you start to rationalize things that are pretty crazy,” she said.
Their budget rose, hitting the low $800,000s. Early on, they saw a large one-bedroom in a 15-unit condo building on Huron Street. For $740,000, it had a small balcony, a common roof deck and a deeded parking spot. Monthly charges were around $300. Mr. Kazemi encouraged them to buy it. “The parking spot is rare,” he said. “It is a real asset.”
But the timing was off. “I think we were too early in our search,” Ms. Thorner said. “We didn’t quite get how valuable the parking spot was.” The apartment later sold for $735,000.
The timing was also bad at a 10-unit condo building on Java Street where a two-bedroom had two bathrooms and a roof deck. The price was $839,000, with monthly charges of around $300.
At that point, they were planning their wedding and nervous about assuming too much debt. “At the last second we hesitated,” Ms. Thorner said. “It was a really good deal in retrospect.”
They had a frustrating time with a two-bedroom featuring a suburban-size backyard. The owner, who was selling it herself, kept raising the price, while failing to return messages, Ms. Thorner said. Another two-bedroom duplex with a huge backyard had an odd layout. “They were enamored with the garden space,” Mr. Kazemi said. “I talked them out of it. It was one of the most unfunctional apartments I’ve ever seen.”
But at a small condo building on India Street, they found almost all of what they wanted. The one-bedroom had an extra nook, suitable for a dining room, office or nursery. Instead of a yard, it had a large balcony and a common roof deck. The basement held a private storage room.
The price was $792,000, with monthly charges of almost $400. It was occupied by renters and wasn’t advertised; Mr. Kazemi had a relationship with the developer, Belvedere. “There was nobody else we were going to have to fight to get this,” Mr. Burke said. “It was so much better than having to walk into an open house where you see 10 other couples.”
They finally arrived in the winter with Taj and their cat, Roxy. Most neighbors also have pets. “The walls are very well insulated,” Mr. Burke said, “so we never hear the dogs except going into and out of the building.” They do, however, smell smoke from the neighbors.
Their storage room is packed, and the balcony is furnished with seating and a grill.
In the neighborhood, street parking has become scarce, with parking spots taken by equipment for the many construction sites. “All those cars now congest the surrounding blocks,” Mr. Burke said.
They still park on the street, following the alternate-side parking signs. “It gets a little tedious and repetitive,” he said. In the worst case, “I will park on the wrong side and look in the morning, or my wife will.”