Some food stores cater to expats, but prices are hefty

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There is a small chain of supermarkets aptly named “Lucky.”  It carries many groceries from the United States, but it is legend among expats here for its high prices.

Although Lucky carries items such Skippy peanut butter, Barilla pasta and Haagan-Dasz ice cream, we have to dig deep to pay for such things.

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Prices are in dollars per 100 grams.

For instance, a small jar of Skippy runs $4.90.  A small container of Hagaan-Dasz goes for as much as $18 — that’s not a typo — and 1.1 pounds of Barilla spaghetti is ours for $2.  I purchased a small jar of Hellman’s light mayonnaise for $4.30.  When I buy a five-ounce can of Bumble Bee solid white tuna fish with spring water, I pay $2.60, not bad, all things considered.

Much of the paltry selection of important cheese is sold by the hundred grams, or less than a quarter pound, for very high prices.

The last time I looked at a container of Driscoll strawberries, Continue reading

Out and About: 2-bedroom units are all the rage

This is the final Out and About for the summer, but please do check in for occasional posts on other topics meantime.

Second bedroom of my apartment, which is on the market at this writing.

Second bedroom of my apartment, now on the market.

Two-bedroom apartments may well meet the needs of the biggest segment of buyers.

For one or two residents, they represent the flexibility of having an office, guest room or baby’s room for a family planning to grow.

For a couple already with offspring, two-bedroom units make it possible to accommodate easily (in New York City terms) two quite young children of even the opposite sex, two of the same sex into their teens and even three kids should it be possible to divide a large bedroom if, as often is the case, a true third bedroom is too much of a financial stretch for the buyers.

It is no surprise, then, that two-bedroom co-ops and condos accounted for approximately a third of the market share in Manhattan during the first quarter of the year.  And they sell quickly when priced correctly.

Two-bedroom units that are listed under the market have been going fast, while those that seem to be exactly on the market take just a bit longer.  That’s true of at least three pre-war apartments that I happened to see on the Upper West Side within the last couple of months.  Consider these: Continue reading

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

Weekly Roundup: Broker titles, celebs on the move, growing supply, reverse mortgages, the American Dream, boarding houses, and more

Next week’s Weekly Roundup will be the last until Sept. 6

Offering plans afford glimpse into pluses, minuses of lavish lifestyle in luxe buildings

Buyers snapping up Manhattan apartments 38 percent faster than last year, with UWS tightest market

Brokers still wrestling with new state rules on titles

Prices of Williamsburg condos plummeted in spring

First-half volume of investment properties leaps 41.3 percent over same time last year

One Picasso forsaking his walls

Lord of the Rings actor drops $1.075 million for gingerbread Victorian in Texas

Former NBA player lists California home for $2.795 million

Onetime TV detective, also actor who originated role of 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