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: What is the color of money?

View through kitchen into living room.

View through kitchen into living room of Upper West Side condo.

Conventional wisdom has it that vivid colors can be an overwhelming obstacle to the sale of a residential property that is on the market.

Mostly the notion seems to hold true.  It is difficult, the argument goes, for prospective buyers to imagine themselves in a home that speaks too loudly of its sellers.

In fact, I recall one client of mine who rejected a house in suburban Washington, D.C. — solely, she said — because she hated the wall covering in the living room.  That sort of reaction happens more often than you might imagine.

But the well renovated apartment pictured here may defy the advice to tone down an apartment’s personality as expressed by bright colors.

Although I cannot imagine myself living with the palette chosen by the condo’s residents, I did find the place to be Continue reading

Weekly Roundup: ‘Insane’ market, rising prices, pronounced seasonality, surging sales, wasted electricity, 65,000-acre Quebec spread. . . more!

Next Weekly Roundup April 5

Bidding environment now ‘absolutely insane’

Contract activity soars above prior years, thereby confirming both item above and my Wednesday post

Prices soar 11 percent from January 2012

Prior to usual seasonal increase, February rents in Manhattan Continue reading

Out and About: Rolling conversions never smooth

Lots of terrace, tiny kitchen in West End Avenue condo.

Lots of terrace, tiny kitchen in 829-sf West End Avenue condo.

The temptation always is great to get in, as it were, on the ground floor.

That possibility occurs when a building’s owner decides to convert from rentals to condos with only a fraction of the tenants gone.

To my mind, the situation creates the worst of several worlds — the continuing presence of resentful renters, infrastructure yet to be completely (sometimes even mostly) updated, endless buyer traffic and the mess and interference of contractors in the building for months and months as they work on one apartment after another.

It is not immaterial that buildings with majority sponsor ownership cannot qualify for mortgages backed by Fannie Mae.

In the mid 90s Continue reading

Out and About: Unavailable for half a century

It is not even an estate sale, but the Upper West Side co-op in the high 70s on West End Avenue apparently hasn’t been improved in the half century since the owners purchased the place.

Defining “vintage,” the apartment is typical of one that has aged in tandem with the owners.

The situation is understandable and not all that unusual, except for the number of years that have passed.  More often than not, it seems, owners grow comfortable in their homes and fail to notice the need for updating.

I suppose the feeling is not unlike the pleasures of an old pair of slippers, a well-worn cardigan or a hardcover book that has been losing the test of time.

The challenge for any broker is Continue reading

Out and About: The little things matter

Can you see yourself here?

When it comes to showing an apartment to its best advantage, the little things count.

A listing broker can’t change an awkward layout, dress up a kitchen with granite countertops or eliminate blocked exposures.

But a savvy broker knows how to alter a listing so that prospective buyers can imagine themselves in it.  The things that mar the listing in the photograph above overwhelm the eye and cloud the vision, but they are, in the scope of things, small matters easily fixed.

I saw this three-bedroom, three-bath co-op on Riverside Drive in the very low 90s not long after it had been offered for sale, at $2.795 million with maintenance of $2,867 a month.

The 1,905-sf unit has much going for it Continue reading