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

I told my buyers not to trust me unreservedly

If love is blind, trust should not be too.

It was time for my buyers to consider how much the essential renovations would run them in the event they wanted to make an offer for a two-bedroom apartment on the Upper West Side.

They asked in an e-mail what I thought the project might cost.  Herewith my response: Continue reading

Weekly Roundup: New development sales, eccentric buyers, agents’ frothy remarks, free mortgage tutorial, economics of price changes

With inventory tight and prices climbing, sales of new condos plunge

Yet developers, marketers designing ever more spectacular penthouses, townhouses in buildings old and new

Recent law change could make maintenance-free apartments less rare

Buyers do the darndest things

New Yorker magazine lets you click on subway stops to gauge wealth

Beachfront homeowners in Southampton building ramparts against storms

No, says New York magazine, it’s not a bubble again

Disgraced athlete latches onto quarter-acre Texas compound in gated community after dumping old Austin home

Artist makes mark in SoHo with purchase of Continue reading

Weekly Roundup: Inventory effects, moving actors, price gain questions, dubious lenders, N.J. condos, renovation tips, divergent forecasts

Despite short supply, citywide sales rise in 2012

Median Manhattan rent reaches $3,195 as sales inventory dwindles

23 new developments hitting market this spring

Closet space can account for substantial price differences

Lottery opened for affordable rentals in new luxe UWS building near Fairway

Auction scheduled for lakefront home in Copake

As supply becomes scarce, price growth is modest in Queens

Actor’s strategy for exiting Manhattan is move to Brooklyn

Greenwich Village home of classical music icon on market for $2.8 million

Here comes the profit for 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

To take your own bite out of the Big Apple, you have the option here to search all available properties privately.

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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

Appraiser values below-grade space as amenity

Apartment at grade on Upper West Side is typical of units in other buildings.

Apartment at grade on Upper West Side is typical of units in other buildings.

One of the hardest components when trying to price an apartment going on the market is space at ground level or below it.

Jonathan Miller, the inimitable CEO of the Miller Samuel appraisal firm, has published a blog post that makes the challenging task understandable.

Inside of the same co-op shown at right.

Inside view of the same co-op at front of the building in photo at left.

He writes convincingly about the definition of spaces ranging from “at grade” (ground level) to “sub-cellar” (below the cellar, which itself is below the basement) and approaches for considering square footage as well as value.  Continue reading

There are sellers who can’t handle the pressure

(flickr photo by massdistraction)

The pressure on buyers making an offer or waiting for a seller’s response often can cause them to lose sleep.

What they may well forget is how intense the pressure can be on a seller as well, whether hoping for a good offer or deciding on accepting one that already has been made.

A recent experience underscored the point, which centered on Continue reading

Out and About: Can you tell book by cover?

Three-bedroom Upper West Side duplex is but one highlight of the co-op

Three-bedroom duplex has kitchen that is but one highlight of the co-op.

There’s nothing like an ugly duckling wearing pearls.

Woe to the seller of a gorgeous apartment in a building that offends its neighbors and hurts the eyes.

Such it is with a sparkling and stylish top-floor duplex on a Central Park block in the very low 90s.

Virtually nothing about the co-op could be better.  For one thing, there is a 400-sf roof deck overlooking the block’s lovely interior and not hemmed in by taller buildings.

Other qualities include lavish floors of Brazilian teak, numerous harmonious built-ins, a wonderful open kitchen with two sinks and top-end appliances, baths of uncommon beauty, terrific use of space, washer/dryer, through-wall air conditioning, excellent closet space, master suite on its own floor and an invitingly warm ambiance.

Can you guess which building contains the duplex?

Can you guess which building contains the duplex?

But. . . Continue reading

Whew! It’s a virtual stampede of buyers out there

(Flickr photo by abrin523)

Competition for apartments started to heat up about a month ago, and now the flames burn more intensely than ever as a result of withering inventory.

I went on Sunday to eight or nine open houses that had been listed on the Upper West Side in just the prior week, and they were mobbed.  The only one that wasn’t packed in the first five minutes was a $279,000 studio remarkable only for how oppressive it was.

Worse for buyers, at least two of them had offers, including that studio.  In some cases, there were multiple offers — even before those initial open houses.

Listing agents were running out of show sheets, prospective buyers were literally bumping into each other, there was a palpable sense of panic.

“Irrational exuberance,” one of the agents muttered none too originally but emphatically accurate.

We are not alone in that observation.  Indeed, confirming that the housing market is galloping once again, the new Real Deal proclaims in a headline that bidding is “absolutely insane.”

Lord Keynes had a point.

A sellers’ market that is so robust is not a good thing, occasionally even for sellers. Continue reading