Out and About: Comps don’t always explain price

Consider a co-op that went on the market last month in a Central Park block of the high 60s .

This apartment is on the ground floor of 1928 building that has a part-time doorman and no other amenities.  The unit itself has been nicely renovated, including floors refinished with a dark stain, fresh paint and a modern kitchen of more than 86 square feet.

The ceilings are unusually high, there is a foyer, closet space is ample and the layout is sensible.  Both the living room and bedroom face south at street level, but the views from the kitchen and 132-sf room labeled “dining room/den” on the floorplan are into a courtyard.

One of my issues is that the so-called dining room/den is being marketed otherwise, as a second bedroom, though I’m not sure whether it fits the legal description.  My other problem is the original price: $929,000 with maintenance of $1,560 per month when I saw the apartment.

When I visited the place and chatted with the friendly listing broker, I questioned the offering amount.  His response was that he and others on his team had compared the place with other one-bedroom units on park blocks and that prices for such units run high.

Being me, naturally I checked.

On the day I looked at the database of listed apartments, there were 11 one-bedroom units in park blocks between 59th and 72nd streets, geographic limits that made sense to me.  (I excluded Central Park West itself on the assumption that such a preferred location would create a distortion.)

Wouldn’t you know that the average price was $660,450?  At $990,000, a classic 1918 duplex was the highest.  Situated at a corner of Central Park West, it  has an eccentric layout–the lone bath is up a flight of stairs off the bedroom.  That the place was first listed last May suggests how insupportable is its justification as a comparable.

 Giving the broker the benefit of my doubt, I also searched for two-bedroom apartments in the same grid.  Their average price was $910,000.  And oh, there were just two of them; the $929,000 unit under consideration in this post had a price $34,000 higher than the other one.

Pricing is, after all, an art, not a science.  But the seemingly casual claim that the apartment in question ought to be priced according to other co-ops in park blocks — seemingly without taking its defects into account — strikes me as unjustified.  So, I was hardly surprised to see a substantial $60,000 price cut, to $869,000, after I inspected the apartment.

I’ll be interested to see how long it takes for the price to come down again.

 Below are some of the apartments listed by various brokers that I recently visited:

  • A startlingly stylish 1,000-sf lofty co-op with a terrace and private roofdeck.  This co-op in the very low 80s off Columbus Avenue is a duplex that has 20-foot ceilings, a single bedroom open to the public space way below, wood-burning fireplace, exposures north and south with extraordinary amounts of sunlight, one and a half marble-tiled baths , built-ins and an open kitchen with green-granite countertops and a Viking stove plus a breakfast bar.  In a pet-friendly 1905 building lacking any amenities beyond a common storage area, the apartment went on the market in December for $1.495 million with monthly maintenance of $2,063 and had an insufficient $100,000 price cut in February.
  • On West End Avenue in the high 90s, a well-used two-bedroom, two-bath co-op that had been improved some years ago.  With somewhat awkward flow resulting from its severance from a large apartment, adequate closet space, washer/dryer and relatively open exposures, this unit is on a high floor mainly facing the avenue.  In a 1915 pet-friendly building with just laundry and common-storage rooms, the co-op is listed optimistically at $1.18 million with maintenance of $2,132 a month.
  • A one-bedroom co-op in a 1930 pet-averse building between Columbus and Amsterdam avenues in the low 70s.  This unit has an older open kitchen tiled attractively, its bath through the bedroom and a fair amount of sun from the north over a busy street, though the bedroom exposure is blocked.  Given the lack of amenities beyond laundry and bike rooms and taking into account its desirable location, the apartment, which was listed in October, still is priced too high after a $16,000 reduction to $459,000 with monthly maintenance of $791.
  • In the mid 60s, Lincoln Square, a one-bedroom corner co-op that has pretty good views north and east from a very high floor in a full-service 1975 building of little distinction.  The unit has cheap parquet floors, an apparently original kitchen and a generous amount of closet space.  It is offered for an unrealistic $639,000 with excessive maintenance of $1,510 per month.
  • A two-bedroom, two-bath co-op in the low 100s on Riverside Drive. Needing an overhaul, the sprawling 1,600-sf corner apartment has river views from each of its six rooms, washer/dryer, pinkish walls, a third bedroom or office and plenty of original detail.  It has enormous potential as realized in another unit in the same line several floors higher and listed for $275,000 more money.  The asking price for this one, on the market since October, is a reduced $1.875 million with monthly maintenance of $2,194.  And counting.
  • In the low 90s west of Broadway, a 925-sf co-op that had its last price reduction in. . . November. . . by merely 3 percent.  This renovated one-bedroom apartment on the fourth floor of a 1910 townhouse sans elevator does boast a 100-sf terrace plus a Juliet balcony.  Other of its feature include a whirlpool bath, heated floor in the bath, many closets, bamboo floors, exposed brick, washer/dryer and a modern kitchen that has a disposal.  But $849,000 with maintenance of $1,462 is, by definition from the amount of time on the market, far too much to ask for this place. 

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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
Web site

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