It is always abundantly, sometimes pungently, clear who lives in some properties that are on the market.
Is it the owner or a tenant? You can tell all too easily.
When I opened the closet door of the Upper West Side apartment in the photo above not long ago, for example, I literally gasped. Like me, you won’t have to tax your brain to know that the owner doesn’t live there any more: The occupant is a tenant.
Maybe it’s ignorance, laziness or animosity toward the owner that causes tenants to leave the premises in such disarray. Whatever the reason, I’d say it is unforgivable.
Even in a hot market, properties have to compete for buyers’ attention. All they’ll remember about places like the one above — and the closet is just the bottom of the iceberg, as it were — is how sloppy the unit is, how little they want to contend with imagining themselves in it.
In the photo below, taken on the same day, no one could fail to discern that it is the seller who lives in the apartment. The thoughtfully customized and organized closet reflects just how pristine is the rest of the condo.
You couldn’t miss how much care the owner has lavished on the unit, which beckons buyers with all the intensity of a sizzling steak.
If only sight were the only sense battered by rented properties.
Add the odor of unwashed clothes to a messy array of personal possessions on every horizontal surface, dirty dishes in the sink, a tub stained black with dirt, and you have a property that never will sell for its true fair market value.
Although sellers may be tempted to bolster their cash flow by keep tenants in place, they would do well to assess their orderliness and cleanliness before allowing them to remain while their investment is on the market.
The money they’ll lose in rent by retaining a slob is bound to be far less than what they’d gain by getting rid of him or her. Vacant properties can be harder to sell than occupied ones, but they’re much easier to unload than polluted ones.
Below are some of the other apartments that I have visited and that various other brokers have listed:
- A stylish one-bedroom condo at sidewalk level in the low 80s between Amsterdam Avenue and Broadway. With an awkward L-shaped kitchen squeezed next to a small bath with but a stall shower, lots of marble, a handsome built-in desk and spacious living/dining room, this 850-sf maisonette in a pet-friendly 1911 low-rise that has a doorman and a few other amenities was offered for an unconscionable $895,000 with common charges of $1,100 and real estate taxes of $546 a month. After a substantial drop, to $799,000 early last month, it went under contract merely two and a half weeks later.
- In the low 100s on a corner of Broadway, an obviously tenanted studio that has a cramped interior kitchen with new stove and aged everything else. The interior bath is dated, as well, the floors are mostly in good shape and the eastern exposure is into a courtyard. Yet the co-op received offers even before its first open house, when it was listed for $279,000 with monthly maintenance of $692, and is under contract.
- A lovely two-bedroom, one-bath co-op with inviting terrace in the mid 70s between Columbus and Amsterdam avenues. There are in the renovated apartment a high-end eat-in kitchen with marble countertops and a floor that needs attention, six closets and the possibility of adding a half bath. In a 1922 doorman building that allows pets, it has an asking price of $1.295 million with maintenance per month of $1,609. The unit should sell for at least $100,000 less, though, having found a buyer in three weeks, perhaps it did better than that.
- In the high 90s between West End Avenue and Broadway, a gutted 1,066-sf condo that the sponsor will renovate. With all rooms but the logical master bedroom facing a narrow courtyard, the two-bedroom, one-bath apartment will have new floors, skim-coated walls, and a kitchen that has top-of-the-line appliances, standard cabinetry and granite countertops. The asking price of $1.25 million (increased by $55,000 in March) with combined monthly costs of $1,467 in a pet-friendly pre-war doorman building is nearly within reason.
- A full-floor condo with a wandering U-shaped layout, small balcony, small terrace, three bedrooms and three modest baths in a Central Park block of the mid 60s. Among the pluses besides location are spacious rooms — den, dining room and corner living room — in the front of the apartment (with okay northern exposure), sleek (albeit windowless) eat-in kitchen, washer/dryer, fair amount of closet space, free private storage bin and ceilings higher than nine feet. In a 1995 high-rise with full-time lobby staff and a resident manager, the unit has a listing price of $3.595 million with combined costs per month of $4,610. The amount of space must be the only explanation that it went to contract less than a month after going on the market, that and buyer desperation these days.
Tomorrow: Grand delusion
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Licensed Associate Real Estate Broker
Senior Vice President
Charles Rutenberg Realty
127 E. 56th Street
New York, NY 10022