Out and About: Floors can be winning or wanting

In my years as a real estate broker, I naturally ask buyers what is important to them in their new home.

A great kitchen?  Proximity to a subway?  Central air conditioning?  A doorman?

Floor in new development.

The responses vary, but not once has a prospective buyer suggested to me that good flooring was essential.

Yet floors can be the, uh, foundation of the emotional response buyers have when they enter an apartment.  The type and condition of the flooring may well make the difference between a sale and a search that continues.

Tastes vary when it comes to floors, and just as kitchen styles have evolved, so have floors.  There was a time when ebonized, pickled or painted floors were in vogue.

I well recall that wall-to-wall carpeting was the ne plus ultra of home design in the 50s and 60s.  In much of the country, now it is hardwood.

Here in New York, pre-war apartments with oak in a herringbone pattern are much desired.  In new developments, expect bamboo (the appeal of which I sense is waning); white oak and cherry have their fans too.  Buyers appear to be okay with walnut, but wide-plank floors of any sort don’t receive widespread approval — too removed from the norm.

Another new development.

Most buyers apparently prefer matte finishes here, whereas glossy finishes were the rage in D.C. when I worked in real estate there.

Some folks install marble or other tile throughout public spaces, while most Manhattanites find such décor repellent. As for parquet, many upscale buyers tend to frown on it.

Whatever the flooring, it is crucial for it to be gleaming if buyers are to be tempted by the rest of the apartment.  One out-of-town buyer of mine who actually liked the idea of the marble-tiled floor in an apartment that otherwise interested her was turned off by chips that she noticed.  Condition is everything.

From what I have observed, buyers just won’t stand for flooring that has been poorly maintained or runs contrary to regional taste.

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

  • In the very low 100s just west of West End Avenue, a beautifully get-renovated sponsor condo.  With two bedrooms, a single bath, spacious high-end open kitchen, gorgeous floors, views only of other buildings and washer/dryer in a 1910 pet-friendly building that has a live-in super, this 1,071-sf apartment probably will go to contract for just under its reduced listing price of $1.05 million (from $1.125 million) with combined monthly costs of $1,077 to avoid the 1 percent “mansion” tax.
  • In a Central Park block of the low 80s, a one-bedroom co-op enveloped in the darkness of the courtyard opposite each of four windows.  There are, however, many lights (and thus an entertaining ConEd bill), a heavily textured ceiling, an inexpensively improved galley kitchen one step up from the rest of the 650-sf apartment, decently updated bath, good closet space and. . . nice new floors.  In a pet-friendly  1903 building with part-time doorman and roof deck, this unit is priced at $549,000 with maintenance of $1,025 a month and the likelihood of selling just above $500,000.  The closing was only a little more than a week ago, so the final price is not yet available.
  • A 980-sf condo on Broadway in the high 60s in a full-service 1986 high-rise that lacks no amenity.  With two original baths, mostly original pass-through kitchen, excellent closet space, washer/dryer, generally open exposures and new –yes! — floors, this apartment is reasonably listed at $1.25 million with monthly common charges of $1,230 and taxes of $1,049 and so went under contract last month.
  • In the high 90s between Amsterdam and Columbus avenues, a two-bedroom co-op with an impossible layout up four flights of stairs from the street.  A skinny 35-foot-long hallway in the one-bath unit links what is now the south-facing master bedroom just outside the entry; the open kitchen and current living room are found at the rear of the 1,100-sf unit.  The kitchen is spare but spacious, the improved bath has nicely preserved vintage features such as claw-foot tub and wainscoting, most rooms face walls, the doors are hollow-core, and there is a separate space best used as an office.  In a charmless 1920 building without amenities, this apartment was way overpriced at $699,000 with maintenance of $869 a month.  After a $25,000 reduction in May, the unit found a buyer, though the co-op has not yet changed hands.
  • A three-bedroom, three-bath co-op on Riverside Drive in the high 70s.  With balcony and direct views of the Hudson River from the dining and living rooms, small and dated kitchen, plenty of closets that have inexpensive bifold doors, this bright and spacious post-war unit was offered at $2.65 million, then at a realistic $2.495 million, with maintenance per month of $2,894 in a pet-friendly 1964 building that has a full-time doorman, garage and central air conditioning.  It now is under contract. 

Tomorrow: Red flags

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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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One thought on “Out and About: Floors can be winning or wanting

  1. I too put bamboo floors in my new home and within a year they were scratched and gouged – though nothing more than normal wear and tear mind you – to an unacceptable extent. I’m thinking this is a bill of goods that the flooring industry has sold the public. Clearly, the production costs for bamboo based on the price of raw materials have to be a mere fraction of what they are for real hardwood, and yet they can market the flooring surface as a premier surface and sell it for a premium. Result? High profit margins. Too bad the material doesn’t perform as advertised. If you get a bamboo floor, you’re making a serious mistake.


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