Out and About: You call that a dining room?

Call me a Luddite, but I think of a room with four walls when “dining room” shows up in a listing or on a floor plan.

With just two walls that mark the ends of an alcove, I’d call it a dining “space.”  Technically, however, I’m wrong, according to the New York City Administrative Code.

The Code specifies that a dining space may be no bigger than 55 square feet; that limitation suggests that anything else may be called a dining room.  (No dining “space” is permitted in an apartment with fewer than three rooms, the Code states.)

As is evident in the floorplan above, the so-called dining room that I have in mind adjoins both an open kitchen and a living room.  You have to pass through the dining “room” at the end of a long hallway to enter the living room.

I dunno.  Would you term that area a dining room?  I wouldn’t, but the broker listing the apartment that you see in the floorplan did.  (To be fair, the listing now refers to a “dining area,” though the floorplan is unchanged.)

That’s not all.  The dining room doesn’t have its own window, so it’s not a room on that basis alone.  Here’s what the Administrative Code has to say about that:

Every room must have at least one window that opens onto a street, yard, or court on the same lot. The total area of the windows in the room must at least be one-tenth the floor area of the room.

That same broker also described the unit as a classic six, meaning that it has two bedrooms, a maid’s room and a dining room.  If the so-called dining room qualified as a room, I suppose that agent could be considered correct.  Yet how different from what most of us picture when “classic six” is used to define an apartment.

I didn’t confront the broker, who perhaps would say she didn’t know the requirements.  Such a statement is unacceptable for any licensed broker, especially one long in the tooth, and her marketing of the unit as she did could subject her to severe penalties theoretically.  Consider this:

Dishonest marketing practices violate the REBNY Code of Ethics and Professional Practices, and may subject a member to disciplinary procedures. Legal consequences: Dishonest marketing practices violate the New York State Consumer Protection Law. Brokers and agents who engage in such practices may be fined or have their license revoked.

Right or wrong, the problem that I see with such descriptors is how disappointing the apartment will appear to any buyer who sees the place in person.  In sales, is it not better to manage, rather than inflate, expectations?

The co-op in Morningside Heights east of Broadway has virtually no redeeming qualities.  All the rooms are too small and gloomy, except the living room, which has the only windows that don’t face brick walls.  The floors need to be refinished.  That uninvitingly narrow hallway takes up too much space.  And the overall condition cries for improvement.

Given everything, for this supposedly 1,400-sf unit, the current asking price of $995,000 (reduced repeatedly from $1.175 million in April) with monthly maintenance of $1,443 in a 1929 building without a doorman or other amenities is wildly optimistic.

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

  • In the mid 70s on a Riverside Park block, a one-bedroom corner co-op that has an open kitchen decades old.  With exposures facing other buildings, easy access to a fire escape, nine-ceilings and its lone bath off the bedroom, this 684-sf apartment has been yearning for a buyer since March, when it was offered for $575,000 prior to a price cut to $549,000 in June.  In a pet-friendly 1927 building that has a gym, doorman and common laundry, the unit is charged maintenance of $1,309 monthly.
  • A 525-sf co-op in the high 80s between West End Avenue and Riverside Drive.  In a 1910 townhouse with permissive policies, the apartment has a small older kitchen with laminate countertop, a narrow bedroom fashioned from the building’s former entry and a decorative fireplace.  Quirky to the extreme, the unit is listed at $425,000 with maintenance of $882 a month and evidently high hopes of selling for as much as $400,000.  Unsurprisingly, it is temporarily off the market.
  • On West End Avenue in the mid 60s, an above-average junior two-bedroom co-op that has a nice open kitchen with breakfast bar.  Closet space is plentiful, and that second bedroom in the original dining alcove already has been walled off from the living room.  Views into the center of a large complex are open, if not pretty, the floors are laminate, the ceilings are standard height, and the bathroom’s floor is a riot of mini-tiles colored a hideous lime green.  In a full-service 1961 building, the renovated 850-sf unit was slightly overpriced at $725,000 with maintenance of $1,298 a month and thus found a buyer after a reduction to $705,000 this month. 
  • A classic seven-room apartment on Central Park West in the low 90s that has an enormous foyer nearly 28 feet long.  There are a sprawling eat-in kitchen that is very maroon and very much out of date, hugely proportioned dining room and living room, three bedrooms, two and a half baths in need of improvement, washer/dryer, many closets and treetop views that afford bright northern light.  In a 1929 pet-friendly building with no doorman or much else in the way of amenities, the co-op had an aggressive asking price of $2.75 million with monthly maintenance of $2,798 before slinking off the market about a week ago.
  • In the mid 70s between Amsterdam and Columbus avenues, a triplex with a big garish kitchen that has two 48-inch-wide Sub-Zero refrigerators, a six-burner Wolf stove and. . . laminate floors.  With three bedrooms (if you count the subterranean one downstairs), two and a half baths, wood-burning fireplace, exposed brick walls, washer/dryer and lovely 500-sf rear garden, this 2,500-sf co-op in a pet-friendly 1930 brownstone began begging for buyers in April with an offering price of $2.895 million and maintenance of $2,845 per month.  It has been listed at $2.695 million since early July, and it still is begging.

Tomorrow: Twofers

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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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