Out and About: Windows best for jumping out

View, what view?

View, what view?

Short is the distance between a high window in a prison cell and rooms with windows jammed into a corner.

Although the exemplar in the above photo, taken in a co-op between Amsterdam and Columbus avenues in the low 90s, shows that light enters the living room, the windows add nothing else.  In fact, they throw off the room’s balance.

Without going up to the windows themselves,  such a configuration require a resident to hike over to them just to know the weather.  They probably are better for jumping out than looking through.

Yet the apartment, Continue reading

Out and About: Walls always speak volumes

Portion of a wall that needs help

Clean windows, polished floors, organized closets and sleek kitchen all communicate positive aspects of any home being considered by buyers.

One characteristic that is not usually noticed at once also can have a decided impact on first impressions and subsequent appreciation of properties on the market.

That is the walls, especially in pre-war apartments and townhouses. The shape they are in speaks volumes.  They thereby affect prices in ways that can elevate or depress the selling price.

Consider the photo above. Perhaps you can Continue reading

Out and About: Why I write what I write

(Flickr photo by MN Photos)

I frequently am asked why I publish this weekly feature.  Well, not frequently.  Actually, not at all.

But I thought you might permit me to indulge myself with an explanation.

It happens that I (among others) believe it is essential for real estate agents to get to know their market intimately.  That means not merely reading listings online but kicking the tires, as it were.

Not to toot my own horn too loudly, let me express my sense that only a minority of us go to the trouble of checking out listings personally just because they exist.  In other words, we don’t look at properties that might interest only a particular buyer but properties that may fit the needs of the next buyer as well.

The process of thereby learning the market takes a fair amount of time and uses up an unholy amount of shoe leather.  One week, I counted Continue reading

Out and About: Beyond sow’s ear, a silk purse

Silk purse, a co-op near Central Park.

Silk purse, a co-operative apartment near Central Park.

Indiana Jones comes to mind.  Imagine the challenging and unsavory conditions he had weather on the way to the treasure he was hunting.

So it would be for buyers in search of a new home as they approach the building where an 800-sf apartment awaits them in the very low 100s of a Central Park West block.

When they spot the building, a pet-friendly 1900 low-rise with no elevators and no amenities beyond private storage, they undoubtedly will note Continue reading

Out and About: A sad tale of two kitchens

Brownstone kitchen

What is the antithesis of a “chef’s” kitchen?

One kitchen, in a townhouse floor-through in a Central Park block of the high 80s, fills a nook off a hallway.

The second kitchen fills, overwhelmingly, the living room of a three-bedroom duplex in Lincoln Square.

Both of them are stunning — in the first case because it is so inadequate and, in the second case, because it is so out of scale. Continue reading

Out and About: Some tradeoffs hard to take

Lovely apartment. . .

Lovely apartment. . .

An unfortunte epidemic seems to have befallen an unusual proportion of new listings.

Of course, it has been just the luck of the draw on my routine tours of 10-15 open houses on most Sundays.  I keep stumbling upon (into?) homes with painful exposures onto rooftops cluttered with mechanicals.

Among the compromises some buyers are willing to make are unsightly exposures in return for otherwise desirable apartments.  But Continue reading

Out and About: Victims of their own excess

Squash anyone?  Kitchen of brownstone listed for $10 million.

Squash anyone? Kitchen of brownstone listed for $10 million.

They closed on the brownstone on Aug. 20, 2008 for $7.85 million.

It happens that Lehman brothers collapsed less than a month later, causing our housing markets to swoon.

While the markets in Manhattan and Brooklyn in particular have made great progress since then, we still have a way to go before reaching the peaks of days gone by.

Unfortunately, the sellers — I’m sure, a very nice family — have overestimated the demand for properties that can accommodate a big family easily. Continue reading