Out and About: Agent and seller at odds

A well-lighted cave is still a cave. (flickr photo by d'n'c)

Note: After my short break, normal frequency of posts resumes next week.

The agent grimaced when I asked at an open house how long her listing had been on the market.

“Forever,” was her one-word reply.

Checking out the two-bedroom, one-and-a-half-bath condo in Morningside Heights, I was underwhelmed by the $1,616-sf duplex.  My chief objection: The lower floor is in the building’s basement down an exceedingly narrow flight of stairs.

To her credit, the listing broker in describing that subterranean space did not glorify it as anything more than a playroom, media room or perhaps gym.

The half bath is down there, and the light from window wells is negligible.  It is a cave.

As for the rest of the apartment, the rooms are small, the pass-through kitchen is just fair and the ceilings are standard height.

In a mediocre five-unit post-war building on a Central Park block, the apartment was competing against not one but two other condos on higher floors at the time of my visit.

Knowing that some buyers will trade off almost anything for space, I could imagine that there existed someone who might make an offer for the place.

But not at the original asking price of $1.049 millionmore than a year ago, $1.025 million last June, $999,000 since September or, with a new agency, $969,000 since the end of the last month.  The price bears little relation to reality.

Regrettably, I failed to restrain myself from saying something about “chasing the market.”

That’s when the agent, as often happens when working with obstinate owners, rolled her eyes in agreement, implying that she had been unable to make headway with the seller.  Why she persisted with the listing, however, is a mystery to me

Below is a sample of some other recently visited Upper West Side properties that are listed by various brokers:

  • A one-bedroom co-op on a Central Park block of the low 70s.  This pleasant unit up six flights of stairs in an 1890 townhouse sans elevator or other amenities has exposed brick, decorative fireplace, good light, improved bath and adequately updated open kitchen.  Although the asking price since November of $499,000, which is close to the offering price in 2006, is inappropriate for so much of an assent, this apartment went under contract late last month.  Monthly maintenance is $880.
  • In the high 90s on a corner of Broadway in a 1925 doorman building, a three-bedroom condo.  With a large top-end kitchen that nevertheless has a cramped layout, two small baths only off a hallway, the third bedroom lacking a closet, otherwise minimal closet space, an uninviting windowless dining area, exposures to walls or the noisy avenue and worn flooring, this 1,471-sf  apartment has had a checkered price history that began at $2.295 million back in 2009.  Having gone down and up over the years and changed brokers three times, this disagreeable space in which the current broker is the undisclosed owner, except verbally, is listed still too high at $1.599 million (reduced by $100,000 two months ago) with common charges of $1,106 and taxes of $841 per month.
  • A one-bedroom, one-bath condo in the low 60s of Central Park West.  There are barely open exposures from the living room, good views of brick walls from the corner bedroom, an eat-in kitchen with laminate countertops and flooring, and decent bath.  In a 1931 full-service building with gorgeous lobby, the 836-sf apartment moved toward a potentially attractive offering price after a $130,000 cut to $995,000 with monthly costs totaling $1,439.  Consequently, it found a buyer at the end of January.
  • In the mid 80s between West End Avenue and Broadway, a three-bedroom, three-bath duplex with an exceptional amount of wasted space.  Its northern exposures are somewhat unobstructed while others look into a courtyard; there is a terrific kitchen with wainscoting; paneling in the dining room has been painted; two skylights enliven the expansive upstairs master suite, which has a huge closet the size of the bath and a larger space called “den/study” that is just a giant landing; and all the rooms are nicely proportioned.  In an undistinguished 1914 building with no doorman, the apartment started with a wholly unjustified listing price of $3.749 million with maintenance of $3,199 a month and had a sensible $500,000 reduction earlier this month.

Thursday: Let the milk be

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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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