Price is important, but it shouldn’t be everything

Living room of $660,000 one-bedroom co-op on Manhattan's Upper West Side.

This is one of four apartments that I took the opportunity of broker open houses to visit last week on the Upper West Side of Manhattan.

The price of $660,000 for perhaps an 800-sf co-op may or may not seem too steep in the eyes of a prospective buyer.  However, less important than the value of the place is the way that the savvy listing broker talked about  price by putting it into intelligent perspective.

His is a lesson often lost on other brokers and, even more frequently, on consumers in today’s uncertain market.

Almost everyone who is thinking of buying and has postponed doing so after the Manhattan market collapsed when Lehman Brothers imploded has worried that the bottom has yet to be reached.  Understandably, no one wants to pay too much for anything–whether orange juice or outdoor space.

What he did was point out two critical considerations that led to an inescapable verity.  Both considerations are pretty obvious–the low maintenance of $847 monthly and today’s abnormally low current mortgage rates.

But he didn’t stop there: “Someone could live here for around $3,600 a month.”

That’s the lesson too many buyers ignore:  More important than the sold price is the monthly cost of living in a new home.

Should buyers forget about value?  Of course not.  But they should let the calculation of monthly costs help them decide whether the purchase is worthwhile.

As for the apartment in question, it has many assets.  Among them are its location steps from an express subway stop in a 1925 building with planted roof deck, a gym and sauna for $150 annually, and 24-hour doorman.  The unit itself has an eat-in kitchen that could use updating, vintage bath that should be left alone, original details that add charm and exposures that are fairly open.

All in all, no more than $3,600 a month (based on just the asking price) represents pretty good value these days.

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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
Web site

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