Out and About: Tip top an East Side condo is not

The little garden is lovely, the apartment at the top of fire escape not so.

Getting to the one-bedroom co-op on the Upper East Side means negotiating a passageway in an early 20th century building facing the street and entering a sweet little garden.  At the far side stands a three-story white clapboard house dating to the mid-19th Century.

There the charm ends.

The apartment is a one-bedroom unit up two flights of stairs with ceilings so low that I had to fight the urge to hunch over — and no one would mistake me for tall.

To many consumers, ceiling height is everything.  Many prospective buyers won’t even look at apartments that don’t exceed the legal minimum.  To quote the New York City Administrative Code, Continue reading

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Out and About: Bad karma exacts heavy price

Another unit in the same line of a Murray Hill condo that has been stigmatized by suicide.

The one-bedroom condo in Murray Hill was originally listed last August for $699,000.  Monthly common charges are $525 and real estate taxes $397.

The asking price was cut, pointlessly, to $690,000 in October and then two weeks later, to $679,000.

In early December, the apartment was taken off the market and now is back.

Before I bring you up to date on the reason for the gap, Continue reading

Out and About: East Harlem offers housing value

One of the smaller kitchens in the new East Harlem buildings that I visited.  Most are both attractive and serviceable.

Call it East Harlem, Spanish Harlem, SpaHa or El Barrio.

What ever you call it, the neighborhood’s boundaries lie between First and Fifth avenues and East 96th to East 125th streets in northeast Manhattan.

It is enjoying a raft of new developments, the thrum of gentrification and the throb of racial and economic diversity that is at least as robust as some other popular parts of Manhattan.

Just a couple or few blocks from the five buildings that I visited on a brokers’ tour recently are the new Costco, Target and other useful stores as well as an upscale mom-and-pop bakery called Savoy.  Yet old-time restaurants such as Rao’s are nearby as well, along with casual restaurants where a cafe con leche makes for a delightful afternoon pick-me-up.

There is plenty of bus transportation, but perhaps the area’s biggest drawback is the distance from many of the buildings from the Lexington Avenue subway line.

That’s one of the most obvious tradeoffs for living in East Harlem, the other being Continue reading