They wanted a two-bedroom room in Queens for $500,000 – dishwasher optional. What option did they buy?

Shortly after contracting Covid-19, Michelle de Vera and Sirhan Ayhan settled into a one-bedroom apartment in Woodside, Queens. The kitchen had plenty of uninterrupted counter space – a must for Mr. Ayhan, the pizza maker and ‘pizza influencer’.

The couple’s rent, about $1,950 a month, was perfect, too. Mrs. de Vera, who then worked in the aviation industry, made an easy trip via public transportation to the Queens airports. She now works in operations for a technology company, a job that still requires frequent airport visits.

The apartment was also close to Mr. Ayhan’s family, who had a home in Jackson Heights. (Before his relatives retired four years ago, they owned Boston Pizza, in Astoria.) When he’s not busy with pizza, he’s in the business of financial due diligence.

One major downside was the lack of a dishwasher. “So many dirty dishes were getting out of control. It was reaching my breaking point,” said Ms. de Vera, 32. So they bought a table top dishwasher. “Life has changed,” she said.

She spent hours on video calls in order to work while Mr. Ayhan, 36, sauntered into the kitchen trying to stay out of camera range. They longed for more living space and two bedrooms.

“We’re really great savers,” Ms. de Vera said. “We did the math and there was no reason to rent anymore.”

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Their standards included a kitchen—with dishwasher—suitable for making dough, and space to host pizza nights. In each apartment they visited, Mr. Ayhan checked to see if the oven was large enough to hold a pizza crust.

For a top price of under $500,000, they were aiming for a co-op unit with monthly maintenance of $1,000 or less. And they wanted to stay local – Woodside or Sunnyside or Jackson Heights.

They contacted Kunal Khemani of the Corcoran Group, who helped a friend. Emphasize the three things that are impossible to change — location, lighting, and layout — and warn a couple not to fall in love with a place. He said, “It will stain your reasoning.” “There is more than one property right.”

The couple soon realized they could only handle a countertop dishwasher—as long as they had the space to install a standard dishwasher later. “Most buildings will allow a dishwasher if there is a plumbing line,” Khimlani said, noting that restrictions for dishwashers are less common than for washing machines.

Among their options:

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