Out and About: Some things can’t be fixed

View from my client's living room.

View of train tracks from living room that my client hoped to occupy.

Buyers in love with an apartment may shrink from making an offer anyway.

It is not anything inside their prospective home that turns them off.  It is the outside that becomes a deal-breaker.

There always are buyers who can get over blocked exposures into gloomy courtyards, though fewer who can stomach a messy courtyard seen from the living room of a ground floor apartment.  I’m not talking about those issues.

Nor do I mean the concerns of folks searching for a single-family home — for example, chicken coops next door or lots strewn with discarded appliances and automobile tires in front of a broken-down trailer.

What I’m referring to are obstacles to the purchase of the perfect apartment such as the screeching brakes of buses in front of the building.  Or the rumble of subway trains on elevated portions of their route such as the one pictured above in Morningside Heights.

Other potential deal-breakers: a restaurant or, worse, a bar directly below an apartment; barking dogs; strong food or other odors; loiterers on the corner; steep hills to the unit or desired neighborhood amenities; unprotected open spaces where a new building might rise; high traffic if there will be young children or infirm residents living in the new place; stairs into the building or from the lobby; construction next door; a firehouse, police station, school or hospital nearby.

I am sure you can add to the list.

A buyer of mine recently considered a two-bedroom co-op facing the tracks in the picture.

The 1,000-sf unit undergoing a gut renovation pleased her greatly; everything would be new, from hardwood floors to kitchen and bath.  The living/dining room was large, and the bedrooms at the rear were big enough for her needs, which included a combo office/guest room.

Even as a lifelong musician, she decided that the noise from the trains on Broadway in the 120s wasn’t so bad.

The apartment was listed most reasonably, for $565,000.  She made an offer, and she lost the place as a result of poor timing.

Which goes to prove that one person’s deal-breaker didn’t prove to be two others’ treasure.

The price, you see, was right.  And that number can surmount any worries about outside disincentives to purchase.

She’s not so happy.  That’s makes two of us.

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

  • A 1,400-sf co-op between Amsterdam and Columbus avenues in the mid 80s.  There are an eccentric layout that includes a hallway evoking a bowling alley from the front door to the living room; two baths only within the master bedroom and a contorted home office; stripped wood paneling, molding and doors that hit discordant notes; and minimal closet space.  This classic six-room unit in a pet-friendly 1925 building lacking a doorman has a high asking price of $1.575 million with monthly maintenance of $1,638.
  • In the very high 60s east of Broadway, a spartan 250-sf studio with no redeeming qualities.  Among its features are a kitchenette with two-burner stovetop, interior bath with mini sink and stained tub, sloping floors, partially open exposures and 10-foot-high ceilings.  Even at $325,000 with maintenance of $854 a month, this co-op is no bargain.
  • A sprawling three-bedroom, two-bath 1,800-sf co-op that feels like, but isn’t, a combined apartment.  The all-white eat-in kitchen is pretty upscale except for cabinets that seem to be laminate; other of its liabilities are a refrigerator  far from the sink and not so much space for dining.  There are a full-size washer/dryer, good-size rooms for the most part, adequate closet space, built-in bookcase, exposures south and west and no en suite bath, though one could be added to the master bedroom with board approval.  The asking price of $2.495 million with maintenance of $2,137 in a pet-friendly 1909 mid-rise with part-time doorman in the very low 90s on a corner of Broadway is not insane. . . in today’s market. 
  • On West End Avenue in the low 70s, a cramped one-bedroom apartment that has a nicely renovated bath and kitchen, which features marble countertops, Viking stove and above-average white cabinets.  The south-facing living room unfortunately looks at a wall, but the corner bedroom has a second exposure, to the west, which is open toward the Hudson River.  In a 1916 doorman building that accepts pets, this unit is listed at $625,000 with maintenance of $1,660 and should sell for much less.

Tomorrow: A dime in time

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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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