Out and About: Rare foreclosure not an easy sale

There’s nothing like pink in a living room, the highlight of a foreclosed co-op on the Upper West Side.

So few are sales of foreclosed apartments in Manhattan that they rarely appear on the open market, as opposed to foreclosure auctions on the courthouse steps.

One such apartment surfaced recently between Broadway and Amsterdam Avenue in the mid 90s.

This one-bedroom co-op in a pet-friendly 1948 low-rise that has a part-time doorman along with bike, storage and laundry rooms needs a total renovation.  That means new galley kitchen and bath (both of which are windowed), refinished floors and fresh paint everywhere.

And here’s the unforgettably decorated bedroom.

Exposures are unexceptional, though there is adequate light.  Among its pluses are a sunken living room and extra space for dining.

The nice aspect of buying a bank-owned property (called REO, or real estate owned) is that decisions are made purely as a business decision, not the sort of emotional decision with which sellers sometimes muddy the waters.

However, I discovered only on a second visit that it’s not a REO: It was a foreclosure that had been purchased by investors.  Now, they are counting on a profit.

Nor does the bath surprise.

Having a foreclosed property in a building is not something that would cause anyone in the building to be boastful — except possibly the investors should they walk away with a tidy sum.

As usual, the co-op board will proceed on the basis of its usual financial requirements, such as sufficient means and income to be assured of uninterrupted monthly maintenance — no doubt, especially with this apartment.

The unit in question is listed at a purported bargain price of $419,000 with maintenance of $949 a month.  Investing a rock-bottom minimum of $50,000 in renovations might make the place livable.

If it is a bargain, the unit somehow has remained available at the same price for the last three months.

Following is a sample of properties that I have visited and that are listed by various other brokers:

  • In the low 70s between Columbus and Amsterdam avenues, a one-bedroom co-op with its two big walk-in closets as the most distinguishing feature.  Entry is past a small and dated open kitchen, the bath is so-so, there are stains on portions of the floor, and the only views from this depressing 700-sf apartment are of brick walls.  In a 1928  building that permits pieds-à-terre, sublets and a single dog, this apartment has been listed since the end of March at $575,000 with monthly maintenance of $1,050.  Now with a new broker, it probably still should sell for $50,000 less.  
  • In the low 100s on West End Avenue, a three-bedroom, one-bath co-op that technically is a classic-six room apartment in that it has a dining room.  But the 1,200-sf unit is in a frowzy 1925 building with no more amenities than a laundry room, the galley kitchen is second-rate, and two of the rooms, plus the merely fair bath, face brick walls.  Because of their relatively small proportions, the living and dining rooms, which face east over the thoroughfare, ought to be combined.  Also on the small side are the master and second bedrooms.  All in all, the asking price of $889,000 with low maintenance of $1,050 per month, reduced by $40,000 two weeks ago, may prove to be a good starting point for negotiations. 
  • A two-bedroom, two-bath apartment in a Central Park block of the high 60s.  With built-ins, decently renovated kitchen and the best of use of its second bedroom as a dining room, this 1,100-sf co-op facing south over a quiet street is in a 1931 pet-friendly building that has a part-time doorman.  The asking price of $1.495 million is unduly aggressive, particularly, but not solely, because of its hefty maintenance of $2,362 a month. 
  • In the low 70s east of Columbus Avenue, a gut-renovated two-bedroom apartment that is more intriguing than practical.  Every wall but one, the entire open kitchen and even some of the furniture is starkly white.  In addition to the drama, the pluses include a wood-burning fireplace in a wall of exposed brick, that top-end kitchen, central air-conditioning, 11-foot-ceilings, recessed lights, high-quality finishes, two nicely designed but cramped baths, plenty of sunlight from the south and small, though pretty useless, rear balcony off the second bedroom.  But the 1,050-sf co-op facing south is plagued by barely adequate closet space, small bedrooms (a bit more than 150 and 100 square feet) and sharp angles that represent a decorating challenge.  Originally overpriced at $1.295 million with monthly maintenance of $1,427 and to $1.199 million after two price cuts, the unit in an 1886 townhouse lacking an efficient elevator and more amenities than a laundry room went under contract earlier this month.  

Tomorrow: Mitchell-Lama

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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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