Out and About: $1 million here, $1 million there

Riverside Park on a balmy winter’s day

Two co-ops about a block apart on Riverside Drive have some commonalities.

Each has direct river views of the Hudson along the Upper West Side and each needs pretty extensive renovations.

The classic five-room unit is a few floors below the midpoint of its building and has two and a half baths, while the other one is four floors higher and contains three baths.

Although the larger apartment covers 3,000 square feet, the smaller one seems to have only 1,800, based on others in the same line.

Having full-time doormen and welcoming pets, their buildings were constructed in 1920s.

All things otherwise being equal — and certainly they are not — which would you purchase if you had your choice, a desire for plenty of room and millions of dollars?

The price of the classic five, which the building sponsor had failed to sell after listing the place with its current broker in November, was reduced just last week to $2.65 million from $2.995 million with maintenance of $2,519 a month.

The price of the bigger apartment is presently $3.695 million, a $300,000 reduction from its original price just after Memorial Day, with $3,459 maintenance; it went under contract last month.

When I saw the units, I had no doubt that both of the asking prices could not be correct.  Either the smaller co-op was overpriced or the larger one was underpriced.  Or. . . each was overpriced, especially if time on the market is considered in a period when very big apartments are in demand.

My take was that the smaller unit, in which the kitchen is devoid of anything, was off by at least $500,000 because of all the improvements it needs and that the other apartment will require at least a $1 million renovation.

I think I got it right.

Following are some of the properties that are listed by various brokers and that I have visited:

  • A two-bedroom, one-and-a-half-bath sponsor apartment in the mid 80s between Columbus and Amsterdam avenues.  With north-facing views over a wide street, this co-op has been stripped bare for re-sale, apparently after years of neglect.  The tiny kitchen (which can be expanded) even lacks appliances.  The baths (the half being off the kitchen and the main one having palatial dimensions with both subway-tiled shower and a huge tub) are untouched vintage, the floors have been refinished, and the walls have benefited from a coat of inexpensive paint.  A renovated 1,000-sf unit in the same line three floors higher sold in September 2010 when the listing price was $920,000, so the asking price of $835,000 with monthly maintenance of $1,768 seemed optimistic to me, given the work that needs to be done.  But it changed hands within eight weeks, earlier this month.
  • On Central Park West in the low 100s, a renovated  one-bedroom co-op in which, unfortunately, the open center-island kitchen turns the living room into one big space for food preparation and dining.  The views east toward Central park are agreeable, the floors have a high gloss that not everyone will appreciate, the bath is original and the dishwasher is half-size.  There are a full-time doorman and live-in super in the modest 1923 building.  Although the asking price has gone from $560,000 to $535,000 with maintenance of $693, it’s not far enough.
  • A 926-sf condo on Broadway in the high 70s.  This one-bedroom, one-and-a-half bath apartment has unobstructed skyline views north and east from the high floor of its 1986 full-service building, which has a health club, garage and exceptional roof deck.  In need of a new galley kitchen and cosmetically improved baths, this spacious unit is priced appropriately at $1.075 million after a $50,000 cut last week with common charges of $1,013 and taxes of $1,163 month.
  • In the low 90s between West End Avenue and Broadway, a cluttered one-bedroom corner co-op with southern and eastern exposures.  There are tons tons of closet space (much of it added at the bedroom’s expense), floors in generally poor condition, a dated bath with aggressively blue tile, and an interior kitchen with stainless-steel LG refrigerator, stainless countertops and cabinets fashioned too visibly of, yes, plywood.  Even at $495,000 with maintenance of $788 a month, this 625-sf unit in an 1898 building of indifferent quality is asking too much. 
  • A one-bedroom, one-bath condo on a corner of Columbus Avenue in the high 70s.  Having been renovated with no expense spared, this 780-sf apartment in a 1984 full-service high-rise that is pet-friendly contains a washer/dryer, glam bath, gorgeous kitchen, windows that are 6.5-feet high and generous closet space.  Yet, the offering price of $1.55 million with combined monthly costs of $1,638 proved to be pretty steep.  Whether the new price of $1.399 million goes far enough remains to be seen.

Tomorrow: The broad brush

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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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