Out and About: Pity the co-op listed for years

April 2009 was a l-o-o-o-n-g time ago. (Flickr photo by Rua.A)

You have to feel sorry for the owner of an apartment on the market in the low 90s on Manhattan’s Upper West Side.  The co-op hasn’t found a solid buyer since April. . . of 2009.

The 1,750-sf unit is on the ground floor of a 1925 building with several amenities between Amsterdam and Columbus Avenues.  Although used as a residence, it is marketed as a professional suite.

Listed originally for $1.499 million, this three-bedroom, two-bath apartment with a formal dining room held its price until the following October, when it was offered for $1.375 million.  A buyer had an accepted offer about a month later and a signed contract within a couple of weeks.

The property’s new listing agent says there were unresolved zoning issues, causing the transaction to fall apart, and the place slunk off the market many months later, in June of last year.

In October of 2010, the original listing agent had the place exclusively a second time.  She set the asking price at — get this — $1.8 million, where it sayed until the listing was pulled just before Christmas.

The new broker assumed the listing in July with a price of $1.399 million and maintenance of $1,591 a month. 

Aside from its birds-eye view of the sidewalk or, more precisely, the birds-eye view pedestrians can have into the unit, this co-op has possibilities.  But it doesn’t show well at all.

The halfway decent kitchen has linoleum on the floor, the counters are an aggressive green granite, and the cabinetry is only above-average in quality.  Rooms are painted in riot of vivid colors, and there is way too much furniture for most prospective buyers to appreciate the potential.  On the plus side, there is a formal dining room that could be divided to create a fourth bedroom.

Odds are that the apartment won’t get an offer close to its not unreasonable price for comparable units unless, and until, it is staged well.  Tough sell! 

Below are some of the other properties listed by  various brokers that I have visited:

  • Just west of Broadway in the low 100s and a block from a subway station, a perfectly charming 650-sf co-op on the top floor of an amenity-free 1891 building with 24 units.  This renovated one-bedroom apartment has handsome mahogany woodwork, including fireplace and smoothly functioning pocket doors.  Receiving plenty of northern and southern light, the co-op boasts a high-end kitchen with mustard-yellow everything, a combo washer/dryer and, unfortunately, glass countertops that have noticeable damage.  When the sellers bought this unrenovated place in 2007, it was offered for $550,000.  It went on the market again in 2009, right after Lehman, for $645,000 and then went off and on before chasing the market down to $525,000 with monthly maintenance of $843, which seems like a good deal. 
  • A 3,300-sf condo that is in the final stages of a costly gut renovation.  With four or five bedrooms, three and a half  baths and a nearly 35-foot-long living/dining room, this sprawling apartment is on a low floor of a 1928 building that is not equal to the unit’s quality in the high 90s on a southwest corner of  Broadway.  Wasted space in the form of a gallery that is more than 40 feet long and some 10 feet wide is the sponsor apartment’s worst feature.  On the plus side is its three exposures, though many look into a courtyard.  Listed at $4.995 million with monthly common charges of $1,990 and real estate taxes of $1,374, the owner of this condo has high aspirations indeed. 
  • In Lincoln Square, a plain one-bedroom co-op that is in a sad state.  The interior kitchen is old, the bath is old and the parquet tiles are old.  What this apartment offers is a 60-sf balcony facing west and part of the Hudson River, but it’s on a relatively low floor.  In a 1963 pet-friendly building that has a full-time doorman, a garage and a gym, the apartment has a $629,000 asking price more or less in line with others for sale in the high-rise, but the amount fails to reflect the current market.  The maintenance is $1,129 a month. 
  • A one-bedroom co-op marketed as a penthouse on the top — that’s fifth floor — of a townhouse with no elevator.  Although decently finished, the co-op also suffers from 1. unbearably reddish hardwood floors, 2. a lilliputian kitchen with diminutive appliances, albeit new ones, and only one of two exposures from the living room that doesn’t face a wall.  The chief selling point is what is said to be a private 612-sf portion of the roof that now can be accessed through a public stairway or via an unbuilt spiral staircase from the bedroom to what supposedly could be a second bedroom.  Oh, yeah.  Reduced from $725,000 with monthly maintenance of $914 to $695,000 and now $649,000, this property in the mid 80s between Columbus and Amsterdam avenues cannot be worth even as much as $600,000.
  • In the mid 70s overlooking noisy Broadway, a spacious one-bedroom apartment with an eat-in kitchen that was updated on the cheap a while back.  Someone apparently got tired of stripping the co-op’s doors, neglected floors crying out to be refinished but otherwise inflicted no damage on the place.  Despite the unit’s desirable location, the offering price of $795,000 with maintenance of $1,355 per month in a 1924 building that has only a part-time doorman plus a roof deck and storage room is unjustified. 

Tomorrow: The chasm that explains why homes aren’t selling in the U.S

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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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