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Formula for Affording Harlem

Melissa Gutiérrez | 3/15/2014, 4:10 p.m.
Livingroom of a townhouse turned Bed and Breakfast on 145th street and Saint Nicholas. Taken on February 12, 2014 by Melissa Gutiérrez

Moving to Harlem a few decades ago wasn’t an option for many people. But now, everyone wants a piece of the neighborhood.

“As people have more families, their families grow. They want more space. Space you can’t have that much of in the city. So people come to Harlem,” clarifies Rhan Ferdinand, Chairman of the Kensington Hewes.

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Living-room of a co-op on 139th street and Hamilton Terrace. Taken on February 12, 2014 by Melissa Gutiérrez

Prominent Harlem realtors Ferdinand, with experience dating back to 2002, and Willie Suggs, who has been in real estate for 29 years, agree that the top trends for this spring are townhouses and brownstones. New buyers want to get their hands on one or a piece of one. But not everyone can afford them.

“These townhouses have been in the millions for years now,” explains Suggs, owner of Willie Kathryn Suggs Licensed Real Estate Brokers.

Ferdinand says because of these high prices he has developed a formula for his clients to use to know whether they can afford what they are asking for.

Ferdinand’s trick is simple, “whatever the rent is multiply by 40. If you don’t earn that in gross annual income, you cannot get that apartment. And then you have to have good credit and whatnot.”

The real estate group MNS reported that the average rent in Harlem is now closer to $2,397. An apartment can even reach up to $4,000 a month. Overall, the price of buying a house or apartment in Harlem has risen 247 percent in the past decade, reported Humanity in Action, an organization dedicated to diversity.

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Livingroom of a townhouse turned Bed and Breakfast on 145th street and Saint Nicholas. Taken on February 12, 2014 by Melissa Gutiérrez

When potential buyers realize that townhouses and brownstones are much more expensive than expected, potential buyers then ask for condos or three bedroom apartments instead.

But, even that can get pricey, we’re talking high six figures. Suggs explains that co-ops are a good choice because the apartments are very affordable and have great views.

Now that the secret is out, do the math and start searching.