Out and About: Smart broker snookers me

The apartment that fooled me.

During my routine tour of open houses one Sunday, I happened upon a two-bedroom, two-bath co-op in the high 60s off Central Park West.

There is much to commend it.

Though gut renovated perhaps as long as five years ago, there was hardly a trace of wear.  Moreover, the renovation was expensive and uncommonly tasteful, with its high quality inescapable.

The apartment’s kitchen is 15-feet long, stylish and flawed only by the position of the sink, hard against a corner.  There is a great deal of closet space, the baths are stylish and sun pouring in from the south makes for a bright and welcoming interior.  All the room proportions are pleasing, and an ample gallery lends an air of spaciousness to the place.

As I was admiring the unit, the broker, whom I know casually, asked me what I thought.  He clearly was referring to the price, and I leaped to the bait like a mouse to cheese.

“You won’t like what I have to say,” I responded somewhat sheepishly.  “I’d say the price is $200,000 too high.”

Triumphantly, he told me with a satisfied smile that there already had been offers on the apartment in its first week on the market.  As I subsequently learned from him, there was a bidding war, and the place sold for very close to its offering price.

The asking price: $1.495 million with unholy maintenance of $2,378 a month, that in a 1931 pet-friendly building with only a part-time doorman and live-in super.

We both marveled, perhaps he charitably, at how difficult it is to price properties in a dynamic market affected by, among other things, Wall Street’s historic volatility.

We speculated that the excellent location undoubtedly explained the interest that the apartment attracted.  And certainly it showed beautifully, having been staged very well.

Either way, I allowed myself to be snookered.

I wuz wrong about the price.  I am sure that I’ll be wrong again, maybe even in this very post.  

Below other properties that are listed by various brokers and that I recently visited:

  • A co-op apartment with loft “bedroom” accessible by spiral staircase, wood-burning fireplace and exposures being marketed as having “fabulous skyline views both north and east” in the mid 70s between Amsterdam and Columbus avenues.  With a windowless single bath downstairs and small windowless 90s kitchen, this bright co-op — which, like virtually every other unit in the city, is “architect designed” — had an insupportable asking price of $695,000 with exorbitant maintenance of $1,405 in a 1926 building sans doorman before it was yanked off the market last week.  The broker’s prose should not go uncited in its praise of a “theatrical living room that stimulates the senses.”
  • In the very low 90s east of  Broadway, an exquisite classic seven-room co-op in a distinguished 1915 doorman building with roof deck, garden, garage and live-in manager.  The apartment has three bedrooms, three baths, dining room, maid’s room, expansive renovated kitchen, washer/dryer, nearly 11-foot ceilings and sunlight from the south and, primarily, the north.  With ebonized floors, excellent room proportions and superb condition, this unit had a contract fall through when the apartment was listed at an appropriate price of $3.495 million ($100,000 less as of the end of August) with monthly maintenance of $2,982.  
  • A nicely renovated three-bedroom, one-and-a-half-bath co-op in the mid 80s between West End Avenue and Broadway that is saddled with too few baths and too many courtyard views, plus only a partially open exposure from the living room.  Otherwise,  this 1,300-sf apartment has many commendable features, including built-ins, layout, handsomely modernized kitchen with high-end appliances, a washer/dryer, new hardwood floors and skim-coated walls.  In a pet-friendly 1914 building with sparse amenities beyond live-in super, the unit is listed within reason at $1.199 million with monthly maintenance of $1,297.
  • In the low 100s in a Riverside Park block, a one-bedroom co-op up three long flights of stairs in a 1925 townhouse.  Entry is directly into the decent, if dated, kitchen of his pleasant  apartment with rooms of small proportions, and it is possible to turn the dining area into another bedroom.  But the ordinary bath is on the wrong side of the kitchen from the rest of the apartment and only one of the three exposures is a plus, that one over a garden.  The twice-reduced offering price of $480,000 (from $525,000, then $499,000) with maintenance per month of $749 is almost there.
  • Ideally situated in the mid 70s overlooking Broadway, a long and narrow one-bedroom co-op with superlative views north and west, to the river.  With an attractive kitchen of indifferent quality, good design and built-ins, this 700-sf apartment has newer, but marred, maple floors.  In a 1914 doorman building that permits subletting, the unit was gut renovated in 2005.  It is listed perhaps $50,000 too high at $699,000 with high maintenance of $1,480 a month.

Tomorrow: To show or not a property under contract?

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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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