b'Finding HomeWorking with Camille and Luis EstrellaBY ELLEN DONKERE andMarlonPe- timetomeetyourneighbors,espe-rica tersbeganthinkingcially during a pandemic, but two days ofmovingfromtheirlater, a blizzard dropped 18 inches of apartment in Harlem asnow. With a shovel they had scored at year and a half ago. ButHome Depot the day before, Marlon once the pandemic hit,began clearing their sidewalks and that theyputtheirsearchis how they met their neighbors. Erica on hold and stayed put. Soon enough,says, They were just so gracious, offer-the confines of living and working ining help with any questions. Someone an apartment became obvious and theydelivered brownies. She adds, All the restartedtheirsearchinearnestrightthings that we felt we loved before we around Thanksgiving 2020. moved here, of community, and em-By this time, they had zeroed in onbracing uswe felt that instantly.MaplewoodandSouthOrangeasaSincethehousewasinmove-in community that offered a convenientcondition, they plan on making chang-commute to their offices in New Yorkes gradually: freshening up the tile in City. They also could tell that it em- Marlon and Erica Peters found their home on the second weekend of theirthe kitchen, creating a vaulted ceiling braced diversity. Erica says, That wassearch with the Estrellas. in the living room area and renovating something that was important to us.the guest bathroom. The Estrellas have TheyvaluedseeingtheBlack-ownedgiven them plenty of contacts should businessesintown,thesupportforone of the houses and submitted a bid.ditions,LuiscounseledthePetersesthey need resources. Black Lives Matter, as well as the artsSo did 23 other people and they didntthat If you love it youd better makeThe Peterses are ardent fans of the and culture. And for Erica, SOMA re- get the house. Eager to continue thean offer today. Although there wereEstrellas. Erica says, They absolutely minded her of her home town of Annhunt, they asked the Estrellas to putthree offers at the same price, the onelovewhattheydo.Andbecauseof Arbor, Michigan, which she describestogetheranotherlistofhouses.Thethe Peterses submitted was accepted.their energy and their love for not only asadiversecollegetown.Shesays,following weekend, they visited nineCamillesays,Becausewenegoti- real estate, but also this community. [When]wefirstcameouttovisit,homes and thats when they found itated the terms so well, thats why ourYouknow,Ithinkitwasreassuring there was just something that drew us a split level within spitting distanceclients got it.knowing Camille grew up in this area. in, thatfirst impression. of Mountain Station in South Orange.Erica adds, I think we were just re- AsanotherAfricanAmericanfamily When it came to connecting withThe house had all the requirementsally pleased with how smoothly the pro- you get a sense [of] culture and com-arealtor,afriendinSouthOrangethat they were looking for includingcess went for us. And honestly, it was allmunity. It just means a lot. mentionedthatCamilleandLuisfour bedrooms, three bathrooms andbecause of Camille Estrellacamehighlyrecommended.a spacious yard. With large families onand Luis. Just their The Peterses got in touch with themboth sides, the Peterses also wanted acoaching that they and scheduled a consultation duringgood-sizedkitchenforentertaining.providedatev-whichtheEstrellascarefullytalkedErica has roots in Louisiana and likeserystepthrough-through the entire real estate process.to cook Cajun dishes while also takingouttheprocess This was especially important for theon some of Marlons cultural traditionstomakesurethat Peterses since this was their first homefrom Belize. Beyond that, though, thisourofferwas purchase as a couple. Luis says, Wehome just seemed to beckon to Erica:competitive. believe in educating buyers, includingher childhood home had also been aThePeterses how competitive it is.splitlevelonacornerlot.Shesays,movedintothe Their first weekend out together Theres just so many similarities thathouseinearly Black FridayLuis showed the Peters- really, really make it feel like home. February.Usually Luis and Camille Estrella helped Erica and Marlon Peters find a home in es eight homes. They fell in love withGiven the competitive market con- winterisatoughthis very competitive market. finding home /27'