Out and About: The little things matter

Can you see yourself here?

When it comes to showing an apartment to its best advantage, the little things count.

A listing broker can’t change an awkward layout, dress up a kitchen with granite countertops or eliminate blocked exposures.

But a savvy broker knows how to alter a listing so that prospective buyers can imagine themselves in it.  The things that mar the listing in the photograph above overwhelm the eye and cloud the vision, but they are, in the scope of things, small matters easily fixed.

I saw this three-bedroom, three-bath co-op on Riverside Drive in the very low 90s not long after it had been offered for sale, at $2.795 million with maintenance of $2,867 a month.

The 1,905-sf unit has much going for it — e.g. direct river views, ideal layout and flow and a gracious air typical of good buildings of its period, the late 1920s. Other of its attributes include a washer/dryer, new windows, many closets and preserved details.

Among other pluses are its commodious, though merely serviceable, older kitchen complete with butler’s pantry, big closets, built-ins and mostly open views in three directions.  In a pet-friendly doorman building in excellent financial condition that has a resident manager, the place has great bones and a need of cosmetic upgrades.

But the décor, especially the living room’s, is overwhelming.  Just removing the heavy drapes would be a minor task that, in my opinion, adds up to a big improvement in showing the apartment.  It turns out that the broker said they were coming down that very week.

Not only do the window treatments make the room seem smaller than it is, but they represent such a pronounced taste that too many buyers are bound to turn around and walk away.  To appeal to the great number of prospects, a property has to appeal to the most universal of tastes.

It happens that the apartment went under contract just last week after a $100,000 price cut in October.

Removing the drapes along with a hulking piece of furniture not shown in the photo likely would have ensured a quicker sale and a higher price (below the ask) than if the seller had failed to heed the listing broker’s good advice.

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

  • On Riverside Drive in the high 70s, a 2,000-sf co-op that has great views of the Hudson River.  This three-bedroom, three-bath apartment boasts a high-end kitchen with both granite and wooden countertops, a dining room,  generously proportioned rooms, many closets and stylishly improved baths.  Reduced from $3.15 million to $2.995 million with monthly maintenance of $3,644, the unit in a 1930 full-service building that permits pets and washer/dryers is asking a lot.  Yet it found a buyer just before Thanksgiving.
  • A spiffily renovated one-bedroom condo on a corner of Columbus Avenue in the low 90s.  There are a balcony that has partly open northern exposures, Brazilian walnut floors, a dining “L” kitchen with Caesarstone countertops and KitchenAid appliances, and a washer/dryer.  In a 1968 doorman high-rise with an institutional ambiance, garage and pet-friendly policy, the 741-sf apartment is listed at an appropriate $750,000 with $595 in common charges and $216 in real estate taxes per month and thus went to contract in a matter of weeks.
  • In Lincoln Square, a one-bedroom condo with a balcony that provides exceptional Central Park and skyline views in three directions.  With modern pass-through kitchen and handsomely improved bath, the 665-sf apartment is in superb condition.  In a full-service pet-friendly high-rise, the unit should sell for $25,000-50,000 below its listing price of $900,000 with combined monthly costs of $1,487 plus a special assessment of $630 until April 2014.  And that’s undoubtedly what happened when the contract was executed last month.
  • A studio apartment with three open exposures and a small balcony in the very low 80s between Amsterdam and Columbus avenues.  This 483-sf condo has a tiny modern kitchen with cherry cabinets and not a single drawer, a big walk-in closet and an idiosyncratic use of two colors of wall tiles in the interior bath.  At $575,000 with combined monthly costs of $928, plus two special assessments totaling $413 through and $160 through mid-October, this unit in a 1920 doorman building is no bargain.
  • In the very low 100s just west of West End Avenue, a 1,750-sf co-op that has an oversize dining room and four undersize bedrooms, two of them with blocked exposures.  One of two baths is off the former maid’s room at one end of the apartment and the other is off a hallway at the other end.  On the plus said are a plentitude of French doors, 10-foot-high ceilings, nice enough modern kitchen, Juliet balocony and glossy floors of inlaid wood.  Although the offering price of $1.8 million with monthly maintenance of $1,830 seems a bit much, this place in a 1910 pet-friendly low-rise without a doorman quickly went under contract.

Tomorrow: Auction

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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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