Out and About: Sow’s ear into silky sale

Something there is that doesn’t love a wall, that wants it down.

There probably isn’t a single apartment or townhouse without its drawbacks.

In the case of a beguiling co-op in the high 80s between Columbus and Amsterdam avenues, the biggest — and perhaps only — drawback is the walls just outside the kitchen’s and one of the bathroom’s windows.

The designer who has put the place on the market for $699,000 with monthly maintenance of $1,147 has lovingly stripped and burnished the woodwork, selected warm and complementary paint colors, and had new hardwood flooring installed.  To my mind, his taste is beyond reproach.

But I was most taken with the window, which strikes me as one of several winning aspects of the apartment.  What the kitchen window (shown above) illustrates is the difference that thoughtful touches can make in a property for sale.

If it can’t actually transform a defect into a highlight, such clever, even creative, impulses can make a feature that is awful into one that is alluring.

The unit is one of those I loved at first sight and more so with close inspection.

The entire galley kitchen with its cool marble countertops, stainless steel appliances (albeit diminutive, as in 24-inch-wide stove) and warm wooden cabinetry with self-closing drawers demands preparation of a fine French, Italian or Asian repast.  The black-and-white-tiled bath boasts striking flourishes, the entrance gallery is welcoming, and the French doors between the sunny living room and corner bedroom proved to be a fine addition to the space.

In a 1916 building with roof deck, playroom and no doorman, the co-op seems priced to sell at approximately $650,000, so it went under contract in a flash.

For sellers, the message that the apartment imparts is that there usually is no reason to despair of overcoming its failings.  For buyers, there is every reason to look beyond improvements that the owners take with them.

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

  • An airy two-bedroom corner co-op that has an enclosed balcony in the mid 60s west of West End Avenue.  The kitchen has been partially renovated with the addition of granite countertops and high-end stainless-steel appliances, but the cabinetry and sticky drawers only look okay.  There are new bamboo floors, hollow-core doors, standard-height ceilings, unpleasant exposures to the east and somewhat better ones to the north, through-wall air-conditioning and a single modest bath.  In a restrictive, but full-service, 1961 building with a garage and garden, the apartment is listed at $819,000 with monthly maintenance of $1,278 and should sell below $800,000.
  • On Central Park West in low 90s, a 1,600-sf co-op that has suffered three price chops since it went on the market in May for $2.35 million  With three bedrooms, two baths that are primarily vintage, formal dining room, tired eat-in kitchen, washer/dryer, poor flow, no views worth mentioning, unacceptably small living room and floors in need of attention, this apartment still is no bargain at its asking price since July 1 of $1.995 million with maintenance per month of $1,780.  The pet-friendly 1909 building lacks a doorman.
  • An estate sale of a two- or three-bedroom, three-bath apartment that is not in the worst condition.  Although it needs considerable work, the co-op in the high 70s between Columbus and Amsterdam avenues does offer appealing flexibilityy owing to its combination of a studio with a two-bedroom unit.  On a low floor facing mainly south into the block’s interior, the apartment is listed at an aggressive $1.399 million with monthly maintenance of $2,320 in a 1911 pet-friendly building without a doorman that conditionally allows pieds-à-terre and sublets.
  • Between Broadway and West End Avenue in the low 100s, a perfectly renovated two-bedroom, one-bath apartment with open high-end kitchen that has space for dining.  All of the rooms are small, especially the second bedroom, which covers less area than that kitchen.  But the airy design coupled with sunny southern exposures makes up for their size (e.g. 249 square feet for the living room).  In a modest 1917 doorman building, the co-op has a price that represents good value at $845,000 with maintenance of $1,212 a month.

Tomorrow: 10 lessons

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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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