Out and About: Get me outta here!

Do you wanna dance? Without the furniture, there’s plenty of room: That’s a grand piano at the far left and kitchen island near right.

Loved the apartment, hated the clutter.

This condo on a lower floor of a boutique building that is a stone’s throw from Lincoln Center in the mid 60s has a great deal going for it (though not views).

Among the pluses of this 1,586-sf unit are 10-feet-high ceilings, oversize windows, an elevator that opens directly into the apartment, terrific open kitchen with Viking, Pogenpohl and granite, small laundry room, and two lush baths that feature Italian marble, and plenty of closet space.  The living/dining room stretches 28 feet to the kitchen area and is 15.5 feet wide.

But oh how oppressive is the amount of furniture packed into the condo.  (The wide-angle lens that I used for the photo at the top spreads out the clutter, so you won’t experience quite the reality of the place.)

To give you some idea, the open kitchen has a microwave oven built into the island that you can glimpse, but the owners have stuck another one on top of a counter because they would rather not stoop.  There is a plethora of objets, bric-a-brac, paintings and, over the cherry floors, rugs.

Beyond the kitchen are a banquet-size dining table surrounded by chairs, then a couch, cocktail table and overstuffed chairs crammed arm-to-arm in a circle.  There also are occasional tables and chairs elsewhere in the room.  I felt I was in imminent danger of tripping over something if I didn’t maintain a watchful eye.

It is an apartment that is less cozy than claustrophobic, less welcoming than worrisome.

The point of this rant is that, packed as the condo is, prospective buyers will be distracted from the bones and mostly unable to see how well they would be able to enjoy the apartment as their home.  Off they will go to other listings that put on their best, not most offputting, face.  It will be a unit where they can savor the floor space and envision the possibilities of making it their own.

As a columnist on Realtor.com recently reminded readers, all it takes is mere seconds for a potential buyer to size up a property.

On a high floor, the original asking price of $2.2 million with common charges of $1,835 and real estate taxes of $965 a month would be defensible.  But that sort of price for the unit in question, now cut to $2.05 million in two steps, naturally has proved to be elusive.

In conversation, the listing broker had a clear appreciation of the decorating hurdles that he had tried, but was unable, to vault, and I sympathize with how depressing it must have been for him to confront the challenges.  From what I could ascertain, all he was able to achieve was rotating that dining table 90 degrees.

To have to show a property in this condo’s condition might be akin to having a model strut the runway wearing the clothing of three full seasons at once — and that from years long gone.  It’s a pity.  

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

  • A two-bedroom, one-and-a-half-bath co-op one West End Avenue in the low 90s.  With acknowledged need for work as an estate sale, an ancient eat-in kitchen, floors in poor condition and each of the important rooms looking onto walls, this 1,100-sf apartment has a nice layout.  In a 1927 pet-friendly doorman building that permits washer/dryers, this unit is almost appropriately priced at $779,000 with monthly maintenance of $1,733. But it went temporarily off the market only days after it was listed.
  • In the mid 70s between Columbus and Amsterdam avenues, a pleasant one-bedroom apartment with enough room for dining in the foyer.  The well-maintained interior kitchen and bath were updated several years ago, the ceilings are of standard height, closet is space is generous and there is good light from the south.  As for the 1900 low-rise, it lacks a doorman but has a roof deck, bike room and policies of welcoming pets, pieds-à-terre and sublets.  At $625,000 with maintenance of $1,054 a month, this place is priced well and thus went under contract last month. 
  • A dark and drab studio just west of Broadway in the low 100s.  Although supposedly renovated five years ago, the interior kitchen is dated and wanting.  So is the windowless bath.  On the plus side is the amount of closet space.  In an undistinguished 1927 doorman building, the apartment is offered at a correct price of $279,000 with monthly maintenance of $668.  It, too, went to contract last month.
  • In the low 80s on a Riverside Park block, a duplex in a modest post-war low-rise that has an unusally large proportion of apartments on the market and little in the way of amenities.  This two-bedroom, two-and-a-half-bath co-op of some 1,400 square feet boasts a 700-sf L-shaped terrace accessed only through the natural master bedroom up a flight of true stairs.  It faces in three directions and doesn’t suffer from having other buildings overshadow the area very much.  Otherwise, buyers will want to modernize the pass-through galley kitchen and undertake significant cosmetic improvements to the unit, which also has two small balconies on the lower level and a wood-burning fireplace.  Twice reduced from $1.849 million last August to $1.698 million with maintenance of $1,984 per month (in a self-managed building!), this unit was ripe, as the listing agent suggested, for negotiation and so is under contract.
  • A beautifully renovated classic-six-room apartment in the low 100s on a corner of Broadway.  With everything from a top-end open kitchen to two-zone central air conditioning, many closets and a laundry room, this airy co-op makes a strongly positive impression.  The three baths are high style, and the finishes throughout are expensive.  Two issues are exposures (mostly over noisy Broadway) and placement of the kitchen (close to the entrance).  But the asking price of $2.195 million with monthly maintenance of $1.932 is reasonable enough to sell around for $2 million following negotiations.

Tomorrow: I don’t know you

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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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