Out and About: Ignore that old thing?

Living room of apartment on the market in the low 70s for 42 weeks.

Consider a one-bedroom apartment that lingered on the market for 42 weeks after it was first listed for $575,000 last September.

The 725-sf co-op in the low 70s on a corner of West End Avenue has suffered the indignity of no fewer than four price reductions, to $550,000 in October, $529,000 in January, $499,000 in February and, finally, $489,000 in June before it slunk from the market two weeks ago.  (Monthly maintenance for the unit is $1,290.)

If ever a listing could be viewed as stale, this was it.

Any of us can imagine what deficits a stale unit might endure.  Where to begin?

The charitable explanation is that a transaction collapsed during that period.  But other issues that may turn off buyers run the gamut from poor flow to blocked exposures with lack of light to bad condition and a shabby building lacking amenities.

In the case of the co-op in question, the problem appears to be nothing more than price.  Even the owner, subbing for the broker one Sunday, volunteered that reason.

Otherwise, the apartment shows pretty well.  There is strong sun and abundant light from the south.  The kitchen has been improved, though not expensively, and there is room for a small table even though the work area is uncommonly tight.  The place could use a coat of paint, and the closet space is just fair.

In a 1924 pet-friendly building with live-in super, basement laundry, storage lockers and a bike room, the apartment is currently offered close enough to the likely sold price.  But prospective buyers evidently stopped looking in the belief that there must be something seriously wrong with the apartment.

No problem is insurmountable if the price is tempting enough for a buyer willing to make compromises — for example, a serious cook accepting a kitchen that has awkward layout.  In the end, then, price is the burden that a property must overcome — nothing else.

Brokers will go to profound lengths to avoid the stigma of an aged listing knowing that buyers and their agents tend to overlook old listings in the perception that they are fatally flawed.  Not true: The only flaw is the price.  And the biggest mistake is chasing the market down.

It behooves anyone looking for a new home to ignore the number of days on the market to check out anything that might possibly be of interest, even if others have been turning away from the listing for many months.

It is folly to focus only on new listings, thereby passing up the opportunity to negotiate a good deal.  

Here are some of the properties  that I’ve seen recently and are listed by various brokers:

  • On West End Avenue in low 100s, a two-bedroom co-op with three exposures and good views, except of the Hudson River, in three directions.  With one vintage bath and the necessity of an all-around update, this unit permits its residents to have a washer/dryer and a pet.  In a 1922 Rosario Candela building that has a live-in super, full-time porter and little else in terms of amenities, this apartment is listed at a reduced price of $799,000 with maintenance of $1,370 per month. It should sell for far less, in the mid $700s, and perhaps did when it went under contract last month.
  • An appealing two-bedroom, two-bath co-op combined from two apartments in a Central Park block of Lincoln Square.  With a somewhat awkward layout that has a narrow galley kitchen directly opposite the entry, this handsomely renovated unit has mostly open northern exposures, good light, washer/dryer, and an extraordinary amount of closet space as the result of repurposing a hallway in one of the two apartments.  In a 1924 building with virtually no amenities, this place unsurprisingly went under contract within a month with an asking price of $1.25 million and monthly maintenance of $2,085.
  • In the mid 90s on a corner of Columbus Avenue, a stylishly gut-renovated condo studio that is offered by the building’s sponsor.  This 550-sf mid-floor apartment has generally expensive finishes, exposure over the avenue toward Central Park and ample closet space.  It is listed for $535,000 with monthly common charges of $387 and real estate taxes of $169, and it should sell for just under $500.
  • Between Riverside Drive and West End Avenue in the low 100s, a plain one-bedroom co-op with nice northern views.  Though cramped, the interior kitchen has been renovated, but the improved the bath remains dated.  There is exceptional closet space.  In a 1964 pet-friendly building without a doorman, this 575-sf apartment should find a buyer for only a bit under its slightly reduced offering price of $435,000 with maintenance of $974 per month.
  • In the mid 80s between Amsterdam and Columbus avenues, a four-bedroom maze on three floors of a 1900 townhouse.  Not only does the apartment, which feels like a self-contained home, have an inviting 500-sf rear garden, but the co-op has no fewer than 10 full or partial staircases (some with only two or three steps).  Ceilings are variously low (true bedroom in the basement) and high (the “public” floor), there are two wood-burning fireplaces, and the eat-in kitchen with added solarium is in very good shape.  There is significant light from the north and south.  Puzzling is the existence of more than one offer at close to the modestly reduced asking price of $2.895 million with monthly maintenance of $2,860.
  • Half a block from Riverside Drive in low 80s, a 900-sf co-op that has been heartlessly chopped from a larger apartment in a 1920 building sans doorman.  The living room is little more than a 15-foot wide hallway, a passage from the door squeezes past a blank wall, and the two bedrooms are misplaced.  Needing a gut renovation and enjoying not a single unblocked exposure from its perch on the second floor, the apartment was first listed at $800,000 with maintenance of $1,076 a month and no hope of selling for anything close to that sum.  One day after a price cut to $779,000, this place was unceremoniously yanked off the market.

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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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