Out and About: If it smells like a rose, keep sniffing

(Flickr photo by shutupyourface)

If smoking’s your thing, did I see a co-op for you!

It was the last of three apartments that I visited yesterday, and I felt as though I was striking a wall when I entered the place, which is on Central Park West in the high ’60s.

It seems an active 95-year-old man–he had gone shopping–has lived in the unit for decades and decades.  Every day of every one of those years of his residence, the listing broker told me, he has smoked one cigar.

No kidding!

The presumably white-painted walls were yellowed with tobacco smoke, and it seems the well worn one-bedroom apartment has undergone no improvement all that time.  Much of the flooring is covered with vinyl, the rest with a ratty rug that hides whatever is underneath.  The walls have flocked covering and the simple chandelier, dim bulbs.

If a man didn’t live there, I’d call it grandma’s decor.  I think you get the idea.

Still, this spacious south-facing unit on the first floor of a classy building has possibilities, though not at its reduced asking price of $995,000 (from $1.05 million) with maintenance per month of $1,449.

The stench will be extremely difficult to erase, even after a gut renovation.  Moreover, it will be hard for potential buyers to get beyond the smell to see themselves living there.

Odors are not always so detectable, but they also do have an affect on buyers. We brokers are particularly aware of pet smells and go to extremes to dampen them.

As most folks know, that’s why brokers will light perfumed candles, bake chocolate-chip cookies or warm up cinnamon-scented libations to make a place feel homey. And that’s why knowledgeable consumers will sniff the air suspiciously: What’s being covered up?

The broker listing the apartment above appeared to be kind of glum.  Who can blame him?

Other properties listed by various brokers that I have visited recently:

  • In the low 100s on Riverside Drive, an 800-sf one-bedroom corner apartment that has an unusually ugly kitchen with oppressively dark wood finishes, partially open exposures over brownstone roofs of dubious beauty, bookshelves concealed on the back of a closet door, a vintage bath and challenging cosmetics.  Although offers were said to be in hand a while ago, this co-op remains actively listed after 10 weeks on the market at $635,000 with monthly maintenance of $874 in a pet-friendly 1928 doorman building.  For a buyer planning on renovation, there is “some slack” in the price, the broker allows.  There should be.
  • A co-op close to Columbus Avenue in the low 90s.  With three bedrooms, one of which was created by halving the dining room, two and a half decrepit baths, a kitchen that needs to be overhauled, desperately worn floors and more or less open southern exposures from the main rooms, this apartment of possibly 1,400 square feet remains wildly overpriced after a $50,000 reduction to $1.19 million with maintenance of $1,727 per month. There’s an open house on Sunday, but the listing describes the property as temporarily off the market after 24 weeks.
  • In Greenwich Village near the Meatpacking District, a quirky one-bedroom, one-and-a-half-bath co-op on a quiet, tree-lined street with cobblestones.  On the higher floor of this 700-sf duplex loaded with character in an 1848 townhouse that does not welcome pets are a narrow living room, one of two fireplaces and the bedroom, which features the only place a bathtub will fit–practically at the foot of the bed.  Down a shaky spiral staircase is an open kitchen in need of attention, the half bath, low ceilings and another living room mostly below grade.  For this neighborhood, the asking price of $629,000 with monthly maintenance does not seem far-fetched.
  • Gut renovated, but somehow still drab, a ground-floor sponsor condo in the mid-70s with an unnaturally and pointlessly huge kitchen, unappealingly walled outdoor space beneath a balcony, pickled original flooring, enormous walk-in closet and ceilings of standard height.  There are a decorative fireplace with antique marble surround, air conditioning and nothing in the way of charm in this 1910 townhouse lacking amenities  east of Columbus Avenue.  Listed in May at $850,000 with taxes and common charges totaling a high $1,795 a month, this place had its price cut this week to $795,000 and has a way to go.

  • How much is this view worth from the $2.7 million condo on Central Park West?

  • On Central Park West in the low 90s, a 1,900-sf condo that has memorable views of the park and skyline from the 11th floor and that needs everything.  With exposures south, east and west, this apartment in a 1928 doorman building boasts oversize rooms, two and a half baths and permission to install a washer/dryer.  A sponsor-owned unit, it is listed for $2.7 million with common charges and taxes totaling $3,533 monthly.  Add a minimum of half a million dollars for renovations, and the cost rises to $3.2 million, which is a lot for a CPW address so far north.  Yet, its vistas are relatively rare.
  • In the low 80s on West End Avenue, a two-bedroom, two-bath co-op with a decent eat-in kitchen, space for a washer/dryer at the expense of a closet with a toilet, a master suite that has its closets in a hallway opposite the entrance of the second bedroom, and a living room window facing a brick wall.  In a 1928 doorman building, the 1,200-sf unit is listed at $1.05 million with maintenance of $1,343 a month.  Because of the mansion tax, it will go to contract for under $1 million.
  • On Riverside Drive in Morningside Heights.  Tastefully renovated, this second-floor apartment suffers from a choppy layout that makes the place feel cramped.  Also, there are dreary courtyard exposures, except for the unexceptional northern ones from the living room and master bedroom.  And entry is directly into the dining room, which has the air of a windowless space because the window placement and its view only of that courtyard.  The 1922 building permits washer/dryers, and the apartment contains one.  Asking $999,999 with maintenance of $1,397 per month, however, the seller is expressing a wish that will not be granted.
  • A three-bedroom corner apartment on a high floor with mostly unobstructed exposures south and east.  The unit in a 1915 building without a doorman or much else under the heading of amenities hasn’t been touched in years.  Although it is not an estate sale, this co-op on West End Avenue in the high 80s has finishes that appear to date to the late ’70s and is burdened with a needlessly dropped ceiling in a section with two of the bedrooms, making the area unwelcoming.  There are two crummy baths, washer/dryer and a separate dining area.  The asking price is an unattainable and unjustifiable $1.495 million with impressive monthly maintenance of $2,446.

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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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