Out and About: Kitchens don’t have to talk

Although kitchens don’t have to talk, they speak loudly to prospective buyers.

In the mid 80s on a corner of Broadway, one co-op sits above another in the same line with the same dimensions.  Although the kitchens do not represent the only difference between the units, they may well sway buyers more than anything else.

The renovated corner apartments, which can be purchased separately or together from the same owner, are listed at only $100,000 apart.  The gap between their ultimate selling prices is likely to be much bigger.

In the photos (above, the less expensive co-op), perhaps you can see why one kitchen (below, the costlier unit) might be responsible alone for a buyer’s willingness to pay more than for the other apartment .

Each kitchen has clean lines, but only one of them has style and finishes that are expensive.  One is inviting, the other, utilitarian and plain.

On the higher floor, buyers will find top-end kitchen appliances — Sub-Zero, Thermador and Bosch — along with cherry cabinets and granite counterop.

On the lower floor, the appliances aren’t shabby — GE Profile, GE Monogram (wine fridge) — but they’re not going to impress buyers at the unit’s price point.  And the laminate countertops, even though easily replaced at relatively small cost, are a turnoff.

The refrigerators in both kitchens are a long haul from the sink; they are out of sight on the left side of a hallway to the dining room and unseen in my photos.

There are great city skyline views to the south in each of the 1,400-sf co-ops, but only the upper unit looks from the dining room onto a verdant terrace on top of the building next door.  The lower apartment offers a view from the dining room of the side of the neighboring building.

Another key difference is that the dining room on the lower floor has been bisected to create two rooms separated by pocket doors.  The result is that both rooms are unnaturally small for the price point — no wider than 10 feet — and the apartment feels cramped and choppy.

Among similarities are a decorative fireplace in the living room, which is only 12 feet wide; a maid’s room with updated full bath; a larger and also nicely improved bath accessed just outside the master bedroom; washer/dryer; and plenty of closet space.

Both of the apartments are being marketed as two-bedroom, two-bath units.

As for price, the airy more expensive one is offered at $1.795 million.  Maintenance is $1,747 a month, and there is a special assessment until March 2018 of $308 per month.  On the floor below, you probably have calculated by now an asking price of $1.695 million with maintenance of $2,710 plus a $303 assessment.

In a 1914 doorman building that forbids pieds-à-terre, each price aims unrealistically high.

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

  • In Lincoln Square on a Central Park block, a lovely three-bedroom, three-bath co-op that has an unusually flexible layout.  With mostly open exposures north and west, plus a balcony, this corner apartment in a full-service post-war high-rise loaded with amenities is in superb condition.  Ceilings are only standard height and in-unit washer/dryers are not permitted, but the apartment is nonetheless desirable and fairly priced at $2.25 million with monthly maintenance of $2,137.
  • On Central Park West in the low 90s, a classic six-room co-op in a full-service 1930 building.  There are bright open northern exposures in addition to southern and eastern ones, a big square kitchen with laminate countertops and other dated features, two vintage baths, good closets, oversize rooms and a washer/dryer.  Except for the very high maintenance of $2,951 a month, the original listing price of $1.995 million was on target.  But the amount went up to $2.199 million after an offer fell through and then found a buyer just a month later.
  • On a corner of Broadway in the low 70s, a beautifully renovated alcove studio.  The 500-sf condo has decent views north and west, though neighbors can be successful peeping Toms; a kitchen has been opened up to include a breakfast table but no top-end appliances; a closet is a massive walk-in; and an original bath is not without merit.  In a 1991 pet-friendly building that has everything, the unit is priced pretty high at $724,000 with common charges of $449 and real estate taxes of $429 a month yet has found a buyer.
  • An originally one-bedroom condo that has suffered conversion into a two-bedroom unit by having had the living room bisected.  In the low 100s off Amsterdam Avenue with nothing but grim views of close brick walls from a first floor, this apartment has an older pass-through kitchen, decently improved bath, spacious master bedroom, above-average amount of closet space, floors in fair condition and the option of removing that wall between the living room and that second bedroom.  Although listed a bit high at $559,000 with common charges of $420 and real estate taxes of $285 monthly in a 1935 low-rise with part-time doorman and little else, the condo went under contract two weeks ago.
  • In the mid 80s on a corner of Columbus Avenue, a pleasant one-bedroom co-op with northern exposures onto gardens in the interior of the block.  The apartment, which is in excellent condition, has a very small kitchen open to the living room, en suite bath with reglazed tiles and tub, good closet space, nice original details and upgraded electrical system.  In a pet-friendly 1928 doorman building, the unit is well priced at $550,000 with maintenance of $869 a month, including electricity.  It went to contract in August.
  • A four-bedroom, two-bath apartment inartfully combined from two first-floor offices on Riverside Drive in the mid 70s.  This roomy co-op in a 1925 pet-friendly building that has a part-time doorman and a bike room includes a dining room, exposures to the park and a bus stop right outside, large modern eat-in kitchen, built-ins, ceilings nearly 10 feet high and improved baths.  The unjustifiable asking price is $3.585 million with monthly maintenance of $3,872.

Tomorrow: Busy body

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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

Web site

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