I’ve previously mentioned how much I enjoy The Hunt, Joyce Cohen’s weekly column in the New York Times in which she describes the housing search of someone brave enough to take on the NYC real estate market. Prior installments of the column have featured lawyers and even law students.

Last week’s installment featured a lawyer at Quinn Emanuel, who went house hunting with his wife, who works at a test-preparation company. The home they wound up getting would probably be viewed as bike storage by John Quinn, but it’s plenty nice by the standards of mere mortals.

How much did they pay, and how much space did they get? Would you be impressed if I told you they got 1,500 square feet for less than $750,000?

Well, there’s a catch; there’s always a catch. Richard and Jennifer Kim left Manhattan, where they’ve tried out different neighborhoods over the years as renters, and became homeowners over in New Jersey.

Joyce Cohen explains how the Kims discovered Jersey City:

Friends suggested Jersey City, which the couple knew only from watching it fly by out the car windows. When they visited, they found it in some ways as lively as Manhattan, but with easy access to suburban shopping. They contacted Margaret Sun of Keller Williams Realty, a friend’s mother, to help them with the hunt.

They were willing to pay up to $800,000, which is a nice sum for a recent law school graduate. (Kim graduated from Cardozo Law in 2009.) I’d guess that he has minimal law school debt. Quinn bonuses can be quite nice, especially if you have high hours, but being able to afford an $800,000 place less than four years out of law school would be tough to swing with any significant law school debt.

So, back to the Kims’ hunt:

At 77 Hudson, a glassy tower in the Paulus Hook neighborhood, they could afford a one-bedroom with a home office, but two-bedrooms started around $850,000. And the atmosphere didn’t seem homey enough. “When I imagine raising our future children,” Mrs. Song Kim said, “I imagine something more warm and inviting. It was very much like a hotel, almost kind of sterile.”

At 389 Washington Street, a high-rise condo in the Powerhouse Arts District, the deal-breaker was the vacant land right outside, ripe for building. “You could see the construction materials on the ground already,” Mr. Kim said.

Coming to the nuisance? The Kims would prefer not to.

They checked out several other places and found them wanting for various reasons, such as poor layout or a long walk to the PATH train to New York. And then they lucked out:

One day the couple happened to park their car near the Liberty Harbor complex, so they checked out some two-bedrooms there. One, a low-rise town house, had 1,500 square feet of space, with a unique rhomboid layout that placed the master bedroom far from the living room.

They decided in its favor, but it had just gone into contract. “We were so bummed,” Mrs. Song Kim said. “We weren’t going to find anyplace like it.”

But a few weeks later, a mirror image to the one they had loved and lost came vacant on River Street. The asking price was in the mid-$600s, and they went for it. “We didn’t want to miss out again,” she said.

The Kims paid $620,000 and moved in last fall. The common charge is around $380 a month, taxes $11,000 a year. Indoor parking costs $160 a month.

Given the hours that Quinn associates are known to work, it’s good that Richard Kim has a short commute. The ride on the PATH train takes just 20 minutes.

We don’t have photos of the apartment’s interior, but here are some exterior shots of the Liberty Harbor townhouses:

How does it feel for the Kims to have such a big place? They tell the Times:

In their years together, the couple have lived in such small spaces that each always knew what the other was doing. Now, living in roomier surroundings, there is some mystery, “which brings back a small joy, a new aspect of our marriage,” Mrs. Song Kim said. “I kind of miss him.”

“I kind of miss him.” Words you often hear from the spouses of Quinn Emanuel lawyers. Or not.

Congratulations to Richard and Jennifer Kim on their new home. Quinn attorneys work hard for the money; it’s nice to see them enjoy it.

UPDATE (9 p.m.): Regarding the speculation in the comments, a Quinn source tells us that Kim is in fact a contract attorney rather than a partnership-track associate. This would explain why he’s not listed on the QE website and why the title in in his LinkedIn bio is “Attorney” rather than “Associate.”

A 2-Bedroom With a Home for the Car [New York Times]
‘The Hunt’ column in New York Times puts spotlight on Jersey City [NJ.com]
Richard Kim [LinkedIn]


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