Home News Buying a Westchester House ‘for the Dogs,’ but Could They Survive a Bidding War?

Buying a Westchester House ‘for the Dogs,’ but Could They Survive a Bidding War?

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When Rachel Ettlinger and Isaac Randell began looking for a new home, they offered little vocal input, but Dori and Morris loomed large.

Ettlinger, 25, and Randell, 26, together with Dori, a 9-year-old Bichon, and a 10-year-old Old Terrier mix, last year. “Morris is 10 and sickly, but she’s better than most puppies,” Ettlinger said. “And Dori is a princess.”

The $2,800-a-month apartment “was fine, but when we got the dog, it felt like the walls were closing in on us,” said Ettlinger, a legal assistant who plans to attend law school next year. Mr. Randel is his third grade teacher at his DREAM Mott Haven Charter School in the Bronx.

Neighbors were also fed up with Morris’ endless enthusiasm. “We went to work and prayed he wouldn’t bark,” Randell said. “But there was a note on the door about the noise.”

The couple, who met as undergraduates at Pepperdine University in 2015 and got engaged this year, wanted a garden space for their new housemate. It wasn’t.

“We were buying a house for our dog. Rachel and Isaac could live there,” said Scarsdale-based Keller Williams, who connected the couple through Etlinger’s cousin. Janesca Martinez, a realtor, said. She said, “Yardspace has always been at the forefront — will it be a safe place for Morris and Dori?”

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With an $800,000 budget, the couple scouted homes in the northern Bronx and southern Westchester County. “The location was flexible, but I wanted a town where I felt like a local,” Ettlinger said.

Randell was reluctant to jump into owning a home, but said, “If I could have stayed in my apartment to avoid the stress of moving, I would have done so.”

“A large search area meant being ashamed of your wealth.” Randell’s parents agreed to donate part of the down payment for the single-family home.

But their optimistic outlook quickly collided with the realities of a raging pandemic market. Competitor buyers beat the bids on eight homes.

“After that,” said Mr. Ettlinger.

Among those options:

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