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A Couple Buy a Wedding Gift for Themselves: A House on Long Island. Which One Did They Choose?


Allie Rose and Thomas Bundy are traditionalists, and their house search reads like a riff on the old adage: First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes the house with the ample garage.

“We’re kind of straight and narrow,” said Ms. Rose, a lawyer. “The idea of getting married and then buying a house was ingrained in us.”

The couple, both 28, got an early start on the plan: They grew up in Mount Sinai, on the North Shore of Long Island, went to high school together and started dating when they were 15. When they married last October, they were renting a two-bedroom apartment on the third floor of a walk-up in Park Slope, Brooklyn. After they returned from their honeymoon, they began looking for a house in the suburbs.

They had spent a year and a half in Brooklyn working from home at side-by-side desks squeezed into the living room. Mr. Bundy, a software engineer, was tired of parking his car on the street and constantly moving it. And during the summers, they hated struggling with costly window air-conditioning units. But their top priority was finding a yard for Simba, their 75-pound golden retriever.

“What’s that joke? ‘Happy wife, happy life?’” Ms. Rose said. “For us, it’s about a happy dog.”

[Did you recently buy or rent a home in the New York metro area? We want to hear from you. Email: thehunt@nytimes.com]

While home for Christmas in December, the couple contacted Andrea Reich, an agent with Realty Connect USA, and started going to open houses near where they grew up — although in Nassau County, a little closer to the city, rather than Suffolk.

“It was a logical decision rather than an emotional one,” Ms. Rose said of returning to Long Island. “It was definitely a conversation of being closer to family and making things easier.”

With up to $900,000 to spend, they knew they would need a mortgage. But they had a down payment on hand. “It was going to be paid for out of pretty much all the money we received from our wedding,” Mr. Bundy said. They were also able to use some extra cash from Ms. Rose, whose student-loan payments were paused in March 2020.

As they hunted, New York was being walloped by Omicron, and Covid-19 precautions meant they had to wait outside in line, often in freezing temperatures, as sellers allowed two or three potential buyers in at a time.

But Ms. Reich urged them to see every property they were interested in, because listings can be deceiving and calling ahead to ask questions was often not an option. “Agents were so overwhelmed that we couldn’t necessarily get through to people, and even with texting, get people to get back to you in a timely fashion,” she said.

Among the properties they saw:

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