Out and About: Three different worlds collide

Three listed apartments have the same layout and different asking prices, in an Upper East Side building.

A building in the East 30s has three apartments in the same line with identical layouts that currently are for sale.  They are said to have variously 1,300 and 1,500 square feet.

But they couldn’t be more different, and the price of at least one of them couldn’t make less sense relative to the others.

As for the building itself, it is on a corner of Second Avenue.  Constructed in 1974, it has 148 apartments on 18 floors.  There is a garage and laundry.  Pets, sublets and pieds-à-terre are permitted, but washer/dryers are forbidden in the units.

The lowest of three co-ops is listed for $975,000, though when I saw it late last year, it had the same irrational $1.099 million asking price since it went on the market last July with substantial maintenance of $2,599 a month.

With three bedrooms, including one originally meant for dining, and a balcony overlooking the clamor and pollution of the avenue below, this corner unit (and the other two) face a number of challenges.  Not least among them is the décor.  Then there are the worn parquet floor tiles, the laminated flooring in one of the rooms, the narrow kitchen and two outdated baths.  Otherwise, hey!

Eight floors higher, you’ll find the same layout and same balcony facing south and west.  The glowing floors are in great shape, but the kitchen is old (by current standards), featuring laminate countertops and cabinets.  It is listed within reason at a reduced $999,000 million with maintenance of $2,834.  It should sell for just under $1 million.

Then there is the unit four floors higher still.  This apartment has the most ancient of the three kitchens, flooring that falls between the quality of the other two co-ops, marginally improved baths and an unenviable quantity of clutter.

The unit is offered for $1.199 million with monthly maintenance of $2,915.  (It is the maintenance that pushes down the price of these apartments, along with the building’s location east of Third Avenue.)  Shave $100,000 off the asking price and maybe someone will bite–if the buyer can get past the aubergine paint in that extra bedroom.

The buyer to whom I showed these places frowned at each of them for different reasons.  In the end, however, he realized that the underlying reason was his preference for the Upper West Side.

Below are some of the properties that are listed by various brokers and that I have seen in recent weeks:

  • In Lincoln Square, a 900-sf co-op with wonderful views of Central Park from a high floor.  In a 1961 white-glove building loaded with amenities, this one-bedroom unit has an unusual sunken living room for the era, separate dining area, very good closet space, floors in need of refinishing and a tired kitchen.  The one-bedroom apartment could have its half-bath converted into a second full bath, but washing machines are not permitting in the pet-friendly building, which allows pieds-à-terre and boasts a garage.  At $1.299 million with maintenance of $1,458 per month, this place is fairly priced for its location, views and the building’s desirability, explaining why it now is close to being under contract. 
  • A charming one-bedroom co-op on up one flight of stairs in an 1893 townhouse in the high 80s just off West End Avenue.  This handsomely renovated 600-sf apartment has a sunken living room, dated but clean kitchen too small for a dedicated cook, renovated bath and a pleasant exposure from the living room over brownstone gardens.  The offering price was $469,000 with high maintenance of $995; the new price of $439,000 is well within range of an eventual sale price of just above $400,000. 
  • With nicely renovated big kitchen and two improved baths, a two-bedroom condo in a 1910 building between Broadway and Amsterdam Avenue in Morningside Heights.  This apartment has an eccentric layout, but one closet (albeit a walk-in), restored trim, upgraded infrastructure and a washer/dryer hookup, which is by definition the antithesis of the word’s currently common usage.  It is listed for too much at $949,000 with common charges of $1,074 and real estate taxes of $245 monthly.
  • A one-bedroom, ground-floor co-op for which far too much is made of the “private patio,” little more than a fenced off alley between two tall buildings in the low 70s.  This 550-sf apartment (being marketed, mysteriously, as a “bungalow) has a somewhat awkward layout, kitchen modestly renovated more than two years ago and unpleasant exposures to the brick walls that border the so-called patio, which measures nearly 466 drab square feet.  Of special note, is a half-size European-style shower, diminished by having had the bathroom cut in half when two combined apartments were separated.  In a 1928 pet-friendly building west of Broadway with only a live-in super and laundry room for amenities, this unit is overpriced at $549,000 with monthly maintenance of $1,294.
  • In the low 90s between Broadway and Amsterdam Avenue, the the 1,563-sf upper half of a 1900 townhouse that was somewhat oddly renovated several years ago with little sensitivity to its period.  The condo, which has variable low monthly costs in excess of $248 as well as real estate taxes of $715 per month, enjoys a 171-sf terrace overlooking brownstone gardens.  It has three skylights, woodwork not well finished in places, a wood-burning fireplaces, a strange interior space perhaps best used as an office, two and a half baths, exposed brick walls, a true staircase, washer/dryer and poorly designed kitchen.  It is offered for $1.85 million, which is bit of a reach considering that the place is a walk-up and the location is not viewed as prime.  But then there are those minimal monthly expenses.
  • A 2,875-sf duplex on Central Park West in the low 80s.  With four bedrooms, four baths, outsize kitchen and master bath, nearly unworkable configuration on the lower floor and superb views of mechanical systems on an adjoining roof, this sprawling spread represents a series of odd design choices.  Having failed to sell last year, the apartment is listed at $3.495 million with maintenance of $4,918 per month and lately has been combined with a studio on the “public” floor.  A second studio is included in the floor area, but many are the unit’s deficits in a prime building on a low floor that does not face the park.
  • In the very low 100s on Riverside Drive, a classic six-room co-op in a pet-friendly doorman building with formal dining room, three vintage baths, an oversize gallery, views of the park, shabby floors, washer/dryer, excellent closet space and an eat-in kitchen that should be upgraded.  The 1,820-sf apartment generally needs cosmetic work, but the place has potential.  The original price in October with maintenance of $2,007 monthly was reduced in December to a slightly more reasonable $1.575 million, and that worked: It now is under contract. 

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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

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