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: 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: Desperate measures warranted?

Truncated living room in an Upper West Side studio apartment.

Truncated living room in an Upper West Side studio apartment.

Given the cost of residential real estate in Manhattan, nothing could be more understandable than buyers’ willingness to match the imperfect co-op or condo that they decide to purchase with the amount of money they can afford.

Consequently, many folks in search of a new home readily accept the necessity of turning a two-bedroom apartment into a three-bedroom unit, an alcove studio into a one-bedroom home.

But they invariably pay a price both in aesthetics and, paradoxically, flexibility.  Gone the dining area, the well-placed window in the living room, the airy ambiance.

So it is with Continue reading

Out and About: Round really rocks on market

Round room-2

This 400-sf room commands the center of $5.45 million condo on the Upper West Side.

It is fair to say that buyers entering a round room unfailingly fall in love with the place.

Rooms evocative of Repunzel in her tower possess far more allure than, say, Sub-Zero refrigerators, palatial master bedroom suites, wood-burning fireplaces and views to die for.

Forget about cookie cuttters when the very novelty of a round room can excite envy, generate conversation and embrace all who enter there.  They seem to define difference that only excessive amounts of money can buy.

Conversely, rooms with sharply angled corners may look interesting only on paper.

The round room in this building on Central Park West covers 1,100 square, and its diameter extends 37 feet.

The round room in this 2BR condo on Central Park West covers 1,100 square, and its diameter extends 37 feet.  Most recent asking price: $2.995 million.

That’s because odd-shaped rooms that aren’t round tend to call attention to defective layouts.  They seem squeezed into a residence, sometimes suggesting charm while raising questions simultaneously, often subconsciously, about compromises that an architect had to make.

What I’ve noticed about round rooms is that they rarely are found in new buildings; they tend to be features of very old buildings encrusted with carved ornamentation.

A round room that I saw in an intriguing apartment in the low 70s off Broadway got me going on the subject.  That it had a bath of singular angularity was a bonus, but I couldn’t photograph it well enough to demonstrate the odd shape.

In any case, the 2,800-sf condo is the combination of three units, and the layout evokes that past.  Designed around a light well, the apartment has one long hall. off of which are a half bath and laundry; a fourth bedroom accessed via a room used as a library; a semicircular bath off that bedroom; a top-end open kitchen that also is semicircular (hemispherical?); a large dining area opposite the kitchen; and an unforgettable “great room” that is 20 feet in diameter.

There are three soundless windows overlooking Broadway in the low 70s from about halfway up the distinguished 1904 building, central air conditioning and a sprawling master bedroom suite with a big dressing area lined with clothes leading to a triangular walk-in closet.

It is a memorable apartment.  So, too, is the price: $5.45 million with common charges of $3,530 and real estate taxes of $1,639 a month.  And that proved to be no deterrence to one buyer; the place already is under contract.

Below are some of the other properties that other brokers have listed and that I visited prior to my travels overseas:

  • On West End Avenue in the mid 90s, a one-bedroom co-op with only courtyard views from the living room.  However, the bedroom of this 600-sf apartment has largely open exposures west.  Closet space is minimal, the condition is good, and the galley kitchen is tiny and dated, containing appliances that are approximately half-size.  In a pet-friendly 1935 low-rise with few amenities, the unit is offered at an appropriately reduced $379,000 with monthly maintenance of $916.
  • An expansive one-bedroom apartment on a Central Park block in the mid 60s.  With a balcony (unfortunately) accessed through the bedroom, this apartment in a full-service 1969 high-rise with numerous amenities has a modest interior kitchen, decent bath, generous closet space and ceilings of standard height.  Its asking price of $930,000 with maintenance per month of $1,080 is within range of comparable sales in the building, so it found a buyer in three weeks.
  • In the high 80s just east of Amsterdam Avenue, a well-priced three-bedroom co-op with perfectly acceptable maid’s room.  There are three baths that pleasantly combine old and new features, modern galley kitchen with GE Profile appliances and merely decent cabinets, mostly open exposures west from three rooms, a good-size dining area between the foyer and everything else, fresh paint, nicely refinished floors and welcoming entry.  In a pet-friendly 1983 doorman building, this corner apartment should sell not far below its asking price of $1.75 million with monthly maintenance of $2,995.  In this sellers’ market, thus unit, too, was gone within three weeks.
  • A beautifully renovated two-bedroom apartment flooded with sun from the south on a lower floor of in Morningside Heights east of Broadway.  With modern, albeit narrow, galley kitchen, gleamingly refinished floors and rooms of pre-war proportions, this co-op in a permissive 1909 building that has a doorman, roof deck and gym is well priced at $799,000 with monthly maintenance of $1,288.  And yes, it went to contract in a mere month.

Tomorrow: Luxury condo at auction

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Malcolm Carter
Licensed Associate Real Estate Broker
Senior Vice President
Charles Rutenberg Realty
127 E. 56th Street
New York, NY 10022

M: 347-886-0248
F: 347-438-3201

Malcolm@ServiceYouCanTrust.com
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Out and About: Divinity is in the Details

Next Out and About April 8

Front door of apartment on Riverside Drive.

Front door of apartment on Riverside Drive.

Sometimes, it is not the layout, spaciousness or fine finishes that sell an apartment, not the overall characteristics.  Instead, it can be details that capture a prospective buyer’s imagination.

Such might be the case of a three-bedroom, two-bath condo on Riverside Drive in the low 90s.

The 2,600-sf corner unit has superlative views of the Hudson River through oversize windows from most rooms, including the improbably large kitchen, an exceptional amount of floor-to-ceiling mahogany woodwork and numerous other original features.

What first got me was Continue reading

Out and About: There’s a patch of blue (& white)

patch of blue

When it comes to obstructed exposures, it takes all kinds.

There are those where all you can see out the windows is forbidding blank brick walls mere feet away, often in courtyards.

Other more distant exposures may tower so high that the only way to glimpse the sky is to stick your head out the window.

Others may consist of buildings some distance away, perhaps half a block, where it is impossible to see anything worth seeing — not a skyline, not a river, nothing of interest and nothing particularly offensive.

Then there are those exposures like the one in the photo that are partly blocked by buildings across the way, letting in a modicum of light but permitting nothing like a view.  What they offer is a patch of blue.

The apartment from which I took this photo is Continue reading

Out and About: Some things can’t be fixed

View from my client's living room.

View of train tracks from living room that my client hoped to occupy.

Buyers in love with an apartment may shrink from making an offer anyway.

It is not anything inside their prospective home that turns them off.  It is the outside that becomes a deal-breaker.

There always are buyers who can get over blocked exposures into gloomy courtyards, though fewer who can stomach a messy courtyard seen from the living room of a ground floor apartment.  I’m not talking about those issues. Continue reading