Out and About: Some sellers still defy reason

Huh? (Flickr photo by SAN_DRINO)

Many sellers seem to be misreading the market.

That was my thought this past weekend as I toured open houses on the Upper West Side. I was struck by the magnitude of the chasm between what sellers were asking for their apartments, whether large and rambling or small and musty, and my take on Manhattan’s housing market today.

Perhaps the most glaring example was a condo in the very low 70s.  In a notable 1926 doorman building between Broadway and Columbus Avenue, the overstuffed duplex has some impressive features, such as a living/dining space that has a 16-foot-high ceiling, lovely wide-plank flooring said to have cost $90,000 and stylish baths. 

On the minus side are it’s cramped entry through a narrow hallway, a kitchen that apparently dates to the building’s 1982 conversion into lofts and the apartment’s location on the second floor.

But the most serious issue is the upper floor, where are the master bedroom suite and dated windowless bath. Separating the bedroom and bath are two or three stairs, and that strikes me as asking for trouble in the middle of the night. In addition, the suite is open to the public area below.

Worse, the bedroom has running through it, inescapably, a massive beam that must be only four or five feet above the floor. I didn’t have with me a CIS kit, but I’d be stunned — stunned, if you didn’t get the pun the first time — if there weren’t traces of blood and flesh on the cement structure.

The second bath and bedroom are on the first floor. However, the layout means visitors and residents will be sharing that interior bath. Also, the upstairs suite has far more area than the sold bedroom and bath below.

Including the loft with its beam, the amount of square footage is shown as 1,608. Common charges and real estate taxes total $2,198 a month. And the price: $1.9 million at a time when the market’s strength is highly questionable.

“It’s for rent, too,” one of the listing brokers confided to me, acknowledging that the price was beyond the pale. “I don’t know why I’m wasting my time with this.”

Well, neither do I.

You’ll find below other properties that are listed by various brokers and that I have seen recently:

  • In Clinton ( or Hell’s Kitchen, if you prefer), a two-bedroom, two-bath co-op that defines character and charm.  With northern and eastern exposures primarily facing brick, this nonetheless winningly renovated apartment features built-ins, modern kitchen with granite and appliances of GE Profile grade, a washer/dryer and exposed brick.  The unit unfortunately suffers from imperfect finishing, a longitudinal layout and its presence in an 1890 building lacking a doorman.  Its asking price of $895,000 with monthly maintenance of $973 is ambitious, perhaps explaining why the place now has gone off the market.
  • In the low 60s way west off Amsterdam Avenue, a formerly one-bedroom corner condo with two original baths on a high floor of a 1987 building loaded with amenities.  There now are a second bedroom that had been a dining room, decent galley kitchen, terrific views in three directions (though a high-rise under construction) will block an important one), balcony and floor-to-ceiling windows.  This unit of approximately 1,250 square feet was first listed at an improbable $1.799 million with common charges of $1,543 and real estate taxes of $1,410 per month.  The price was cut by $140,000 in early April, representing insufficient progress.
  • In the low 100s west of Broadway, an 850-sf one-bedroom co-op heartlessly carved from a larger apartment to make for a uselessly long hallway, an entrance via the mediocre kitchen and a poorly placed bath that was improved a while ago.  The apartment is in a 1910- building that provides minimal amenities, including a laundry room, though it does permit washers and dryers in units.  Listed at a reduced $645,000 from its original $659,000 in early February with monthly maintenance of $1,087, this co-op had an offer accepted over the weekend.
  • On Central Park West in the low 90s, a 1,275-sf co-op that needs plenty of work to fulfill its considerable potential.  With two bedrooms and two baths, the apartment has a good-size aged kitchen — with a cement floor — and no park views.  But the bones are good, and the offering price of $1.05 million with maintenance of $1,977 a month is within reason for the 1930 white-glove building, which provides a health club, lovingly restored lobby and other amenities.  A buyer’s offer was accepted just a month after the unit went on the market.
  • A 500-sf one-bedroom apartment in a small pre-war townhouse with only a roof deck in the low 100s between West End Avenue and Riverside Drive.  Up three flights of stairs with grubby carpeting, the unit has little to commend it beyond a combination washer/dryer, acceptable amount of space and 10-foot ceilings.  There are no open exposures (north) or stove (unless you count the two electric burners or midget refrigerator).  The lone kitchen counter is 4.5 feet long.  Put on the market in November at a remarkable $465,000, this co-op has chased the market down in four steps, to $399,000, with monthly maintenance of $727.
  • In the high 80s on a corner of Amsterdam Avenue, a stylishly renovated three-bedroom, two-bath co-op with mostly good hardwood floors, an expensively updated galley kitchen that manages to have an appended island, washer/dryer, ample closet space and exposures primarily into an expansive courtyard.  Quickly reduced in two steps to $1.45 million with maintenance of $1,604 a month, this apartment in a 1925 building that allows pets, sublets and pied-à-terres will find a buyer soon.

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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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