Out and About: Victims of their own excess

Squash anyone?  Kitchen of brownstone listed for $10 million.

Squash anyone? Kitchen of brownstone listed for $10 million.

They closed on the brownstone on Aug. 20, 2008 for $7.85 million.

It happens that Lehman brothers collapsed less than a month later, causing our housing markets to swoon.

While the markets in Manhattan and Brooklyn in particular have made great progress since then, we still have a way to go before reaching the peaks of days gone by.

Unfortunately, the sellers — I’m sure, a very nice family — have overestimated the demand for properties that can accommodate a big family easily.

Master bath.In the 90s off Columbus Avenue, the 17-foot-wide building with five bedrooms is listed now for $10 million.  It was in the final stages of a gut renovation when the current owners bought the place, and they had the opportunity to have the work completed to their costly specifications for the purchase price.

Aside from the narrow dimensions, which are a liability almost exclusively in the living room, the brownstone is just about perfect in every way — design choices, quality of finishes and components, and features — on all five floors.

Among many pluses, the house has an elevator, beautiful garden with little to overshadow it, massive 46-foot-long kitchen that a caterer might envy, exceptionally stunning master bath, two additional outdoor spaces, three-zone air conditioning, central vacuum system, sophisticated audio and lighting systems throughout, wood-burning fireplace, and a large skylight.

It’s will be a terrific home for someone, but not for $10 million in an area — unlike farther downtown — not at the top of many lists drawn by the privileged class.  (The sellers mostly reside in the Hamptons.)

The owner paid a lot at the very top of the market to create a version of superlative.  Why they think they can reap an insupportable profit is a mystery.

On the market since late January at the same high price, this brownstone can be expected to endure a much longer wait until someone bites.

 Following are some apartments that various other brokers have listed and that I also have visited:

  • A one-bedroom co-op between Broadway and Amsterdam Avenue in the high 70s.  With modestly modern kitchen that has black granite, maple cabinets and mid-range appliances mostly in black, refinished floors, oversize bedroom and southern exposures onto nearby rooftops, this apartment is offered aggressively at $699,000 with high monthly maintenance of $1,995 in a 1926 part-time-doorman building lacking other amenities.
  • With another $200,000-300,000 in renovations, a potentially sumptuous three-bedroom, three-bath apartment on West End Avenue in the low 100s.  Among the co-op’s features are the excessive amount of closet space, two maid’s room that share one of the baths, an enormous kitchen of a certain age that nonetheless contains granite countertops and mostly high-end appliances, a dining room separated from the rest of the unit by two sets of French doors and a welcoming gallery.  On the minus side are its exposures either to walls that are pretty far away and those not so plus the necessity of upgrading the baths.  The asking price of $3.75 million with monthly maintenance of $3,640 is nearly reasonable for an eight-and-a-half-room apartment in a pet-friendly 1913 mid-rise with no doorman or significant amenities.
  • Between West End Avenue and Riverside Boulevard in the mid 60s, a well-priced three-bedroom, two-bath apartment that has wonderful open views in three directions from a high floor.  There are an old galley kitchen, dining area, adequate closet space, through-wall air conditioning and floors in good condition in this well-priced co-op in a 1961 doorman building that abhors dogs but includes a garage among its amenities.  It is  listed at $1.299 million with maintenance per month of $1,902. 
  • A 900-sf co-op in the high 80s of West End Avenue.  With spacious dining area, sunken living room that has corner southern and western exposures, modern pass-through kitchen, nice bath and capacious closets, this renovated one-bedroom apartment on a lower floor of a 1937 doorman building with a range of amenities should sell close to its asking price of $879,000 with monthly maintenance of $1,240.

Tomorrow: Think about it

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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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