What would you pay for two units four floors apart?

It's hard to fault the views from many Central Park West apartments.

Two full-through condos are on the market in the same building on Central Park West in the mid 90s.

Their views of the park from oversize windows in the living room and master bedroom are bracing, though the bus and other traffic noise on the street below could prove annoying.

These four-bedroom, 2,733-sf apartments in a 1992 building are pretty impressive, and they are priced half a million dollars apart.

Their price histories are curious, especially when compared with each other.

The unit on the high floor went on the market last August at $6.75 million, when the sales exuberance of the late winter and early spring already had waned.  In December, the seller dropped the amount to $5.999 million; in mid-January, cut it once more, to $5.5 million; and two days later, raised it to $5.999 million again.

As for the condo on the lower floor, it was first listed in early December at a price of $5.5 million, where it remains.

(It was taken off the market soon after Lehman Brothers collapsed on Sept. 15, 2008, having been listed variously between $5.6 million and $5.995 million as early as January 2007.)

Regarding the difference in floor level, which is rather insignificant above the full-service building’s midpoint, the lower apartment does not show as well as the other one.  Its age is more evident, its condition more worn and its décor more dated (lots and lots of mirrors).

Both of the condos retain much of the original finishes–the same granite on countertops and, blindingly, on the floors.  The four baths generally contains bland marble tile popular in the 20th Century. One feature is a well hidden trash chute, and the scale of the rooms is pleasing.  There are ample closets, a wood-burning fireplace and, of course, washer/dryer.

But the higher apartment has had some important improvements–for example, gorgeously wood-tiled library and updated kitchen appliances.

As for common charges and real estate taxes, J.P. Morgan had a point.

Other properties listed by various brokers that I have seen:

  • A 2,400-sf co-op on a busy corner of Riverside Drive in the high 70s.  This expansive four-bedroom, four-bath apartment in a pet-friendly 1951 building needs an all-around update, depending on your opinion of a pink-tiled bath and a 70s-80s kitchen that happens to be large and square.  Among the virtues of the unit are the added oversize windows in the living/dining room, individually controlled heating, through-the-wall air conditioning and the big basement storage space that is included.  But a washer/dryer is not permitted, and the ceilings are standard height.  At $2.485 million with monthly maintenance of $2,477 originally, the apartment finally has had a $286,000 price reduction that doubtless will tempt a buyer.
  • On Broadway in Lincoln Square, a one-bedroom condo in a 1980 pet-friendly high-rise that lacks no amenities.  The apartment contains fewer than 600 square feet, enjoys partly obstructed views over the thoroughfare and has a dated kitchen.  The doors are hollow-core, the ceilings are low and the bath is tiled in unexceptional marble.  With common charges of $518 and taxes of $622 per month, this well situated apartment on a lower floor went on the market last April for $995,000.  After being on and off the market and having price adjustments up and down, it has been offered with enduring optimism since early January at $875,000.
  • An “interesting” one-bedroom co-op on the parlor floor of a brownstone between West End Avenue and Riverside Drive in the high 80s.  With original molding, pre-finished hardwood floors, fair bath, kitchen that has an old stove and a half-size refrigerator, this unit features in the bedroom an office and closet space below a sleeping loft that can be removed easily.  There are bright northern light, exposed brick and very high ceilings.  The thrice-reduced price of $489,000 all the way down from $525,000 does not adequately offset high maintenance of $1,056 a month or the small size of the place–550 square feet.  
  • Just west of West End Avenue in the low 90s, a impeccably gut renovated three-bedroom, two-bath co-op in a 1910 building that has an elevator, bike room, laundry room, storage room and little else.  There is much to be said for this loft-like apartment, which has a new high-end open kitchen, stunning maple-strip flooring, Bosch washer/dryer, cove and recessed halogen lighting, stylish baths, and a price reduced in January to $1.099 million after a month on the market with monthly maintenance of $1,589.  It still has a way to go, however nice its many features.
  • A basic one-bedroom, 600-sf apartment with newer engineered floors installed so poorly that they demand to be removed.  In a 1987 building that has an institutional ambience but an airy laundry room on the first floor, this condo near the northwest corner of Central Park needs to have its kitchen and bath upgraded, but the exposures are decidedly pleasant.  The space has potential, and the price of $419,000 with combined tax and common charge totaling only $750 is within reason.
  • In the low 80s between Amsterdam Avenue and Broadway, an appealing Classic-6 condo in a full-service 1911 doorman building with minimal amenities.  This handsomely renovated unit has two bedrooms, one and a half baths, a maid’s room, southern exposures and top-end kitchen with breakfast island.  The new oak floors have cherry inlays, there is a washer/dryer and the painted wood paneling in the dining room is a notable plus.  If the unit has any fault, it is the relatively modest size of the living room–13’3″ x 18’2″–which boasts built-in bookshelves.  Listed in June at $1.75 million with a $1,730 monthly common charge, $810 tax and $149 special assessment, the apartment went under contract last month following a price reduction to $1.645 million in September. 

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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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