Out and About: What is a triplex?

You decide: Is this a triplex?

It troubled me the last time this unit went on the market, nearly two years ago.  And it bothered me when I saw it again a few weeks ago.

The co-op was listed for $660,000 in October and now is at $589,000, after three reductions, with maintenance of $1,022.  In an 1886 brownstone in a low 80s Central Park block, it is said to contain one bedroom and one and a half baths.

There are exposed brick walls, a wood-burning fireplace, a spiral staircase and three windows described as “grand.”  (They are, actually.)

That loft in the photo is counted as a bedroom, though I always find it hard to think of an exposed platform as a room.  The half bath is up there.

Entry into the apartment is at the bottom onto a slate-covered floor.  You can see the door of the full bath immediately to the left of the entrance; someone is standing in the kitchen doorway.

So the question is this: Do three levels a few steps apart fit your description of a triplex?  Or would you say that three full floors with at least four walls each make up a triplex?

Admittedly, any definition of a triplex might be debatable, at least in lay terms.  But the apartment in the picture just doesn’t pass my personal muster.  Nor do others of its ilk.

Which leads me to another point.

In my view, the worst thing a listing broker can do is oversell a property’s assets.  All that tactic produces is buyers who are disappointed, distrustful of the broker and disinclined to make an offer. 

Below are my critiques of properties that are listed by various broker and that I have seen in recent weeks:

  • In the very low 90s on a corner of Amsterdam Avenue, a pleasant two-bedroom, two-bath condo with finishes probably dating to around 2002.  The 1,104-sf corner unit is in excellent condition; the kitchen has granite countertops, a two-drawer dishwasher and otherwise high-grade appliances; and sunlight is abundant.  At $995,000 with monthly common charges of $639 and taxes of $746, this apartment has been well priced since it went on the market in mid March at $995,000.  And that why it already was under contract last month.
  • A one-bedroom, two-bath apartment on Central Park West in the mid 80s that should be gussied up.  This 600-sf unit has poor southern exposures into courtyards and onto brick walls, but its virtues include “quiet” windows, through-wall air conditioners, the possibility of adding a washer/dryer and a spacious feeling.  In a 1906 doorman building, the co-op has high maintenance of $1,397 a month and a price of $599,000 since early March that seemed a tad too high. But it, too, was under contract by the end of April.
  • In the mid 60s close to Lincoln Center, a two-bedroom, two-bath co-op that is the result of a combination.  With a beach-house ambiance, air of artificiality, newer pass-through kitchen, 10-foot ceilings, loads of closet space and pointlessly long master bedroom that is 28 feet long, this renovated 1,500-sf apartment on a high floor affords generally open exposures west and slim river views of no consequence.  In a 1963 building that has a full-time doorman, garage and health club, it is offered for  a princely $1.499 million with steep monthly maintenance of $2,451, yet was under contract within a month.
  • A two-bedroom apartment between Broadway and West End Avenue in the low 100s.  This corner co-op has bright, open southern exposures, a decent pass-through kitchen, two okay baths, washer/dryer and an amount of closet space that is above average.  There are hardwood parquet floors, rooms of adequate size and forgettable views west.  In a pet-friendly 1927  doorman building, the unit is priced at a negotiating level of $899,000 with maintenance per month of $1,340.  
  • In the low 70s near Columbus Avenue, a renovated two-bedroom, one-bath condo.  Having unobstructed northern exposures, the compact apartment has lovely hardwood floors, updated kitchen with cherry cabinets and granite countertops, and, unfortunately, some hollow-core closet doors.  For this unexceptional apartment in a pet-friendly pre-war building lacking more than a laundry room and roof deck, the asking price of  $815,000 with combined monthly costs of $1,053 plus a special investment of $225 until December is off the mark.  
  • Full-floor condos on an extremely busy street in the mid 90s between Broadway and Amsterdam Avenue.  These new three-bedroom, three-bath units of 1,932 square feet range in price between $2.29 million and $2.395 million with combined monthly costs, thanks to a tax abatement, between $1,104 to $1,280.  The stylish units feature expensive finishes such as teak floors, double-pane windows, central air-conditioning, top-end appliances, washer/dryers and Juliet balconies.  They have outdoor rear space that is overshadowed by surrounding buildings.  The location is convenient, but the street life may be off-putting for some buyers, especially since the building lacks a doorman.

Update: It turns out that the unsold condos immediately above have been taken off the market and advertised as rentals starting at $11,000 a month.

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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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