Out and About: Hard sell goes in just four months

Nice views from two-bedroom Upper West Side apartment.

An attractive apartment in a good location that has all the right features and a reasonable price normally sells with relative ease.

The two-bedroom, two-bath condo on a corner of Amsterdam in the low 90s had everything going for it — everything but the ability to see beyond the white panels that shrouded the windows for months during construction.

While property on the market often demands a buyer’s vision, this one called for an unbridled imagination. Continue reading

Out and About: You are where you eat

Perfect example of a poorly combined apartment.

“Dining room” surely is one of the most commonly abused labels in the world of real estate sales as the term relates to space in an apartment.

(Well, I have to admit that “walk-in closet” is one of several other strong contenders.  Sometimes, “bedroom” is as well.

“Dining room” sometimes refers to other spaces that are tucked into alcoves or other odd corners of a property.  Honest sellers and their brokers may refer to “dining area,” though I’d say the term is dishonestly used just because a small table can be jammed into foyer.

The floorplan above is for a combined apartment on West End Avenue in low 100s.  Although the co-op has been expensively gut renovated, it has been impossibly designed.

The combination just doesn’t work as currently configured.

The dining room doubles as a foyer, or, more accurately, Continue reading

Out and About: Get me outta here!

Do you wanna dance? Without the furniture, there’s plenty of room: That’s a grand piano at the far left and kitchen island near right.

Loved the apartment, hated the clutter.

This condo on a lower floor of a boutique building that is a stone’s throw from Lincoln Center in the mid 60s has a great deal going for it (though not views).

Among the pluses of this 1,586-sf unit are 10-feet-high ceilings, oversize windows, an elevator that opens directly into the apartment, terrific open kitchen with Viking, Pogenpohl and granite, small laundry room, and two lush baths that feature Italian marble, and plenty of closet space.  The living/dining room stretches 28 feet to the kitchen area and is 15.5 feet wide.

But oh Continue reading

Out and About: Panache vs. pragmatism

Terrace of $4.150 million townhouse

A new development in Hell’s Kitch– er, Clinton has had a loooong history.  And therein lies a tale.

The long history, of course, has to do with the amount of time it is taking to sell out the building, where sales started two years ago and which has impressively designed and finished interiors. In fact, the development won a 2007 design award from the New York chapter of the American Institute of Architects.

Combined living room, kitchen

Loaded with amenities, including garage spaces that run $130,000, the building has 51 open flats, 22 duplexes and penthouses, plus nine townhouses.

With preternaturally clean lines, sharp angles and an accent on drama, the units have expensive features such as honed white quartz countertops, marble-tiled baths with radiant heating, Corian- encased soaking tubs, floor-to-ceiling windows and wide-plank solid oak floors. At the top of the windows are molding and electrical service to accommodate remote-controlled shades, which would be mandatory for any owner facing south.

Penthouse staircase

On the downside is Continue reading

Out and About: The curse of lot-line windows

With two more windows, this living room would be twice as light.

What the photo above graphically illustrates is what happens when the reality of lot-line windows comes home.

When the owners purchased their home, they doubtless assumed that nothing would block the windows at one end of the living room.  Those current sellers were wrong, all too clearly.

Either unaware of lot-line windows in the condo or blissfully unconcerned about them, the buyers must have congratulated themselves on the purchase of their light-filled new residence in a 1910 doorman building on a corner of Broadway.

Now, they must be regretting the day of their closing.

After they bought the place, Continue reading

Out and About: The way to a home’s heart

The argument can be made, and frequently is, that kitchens are what sell a residence.

Although I agree that the concept is fundamentally true, I also appreciate that any number of deficiencies can outweigh the appeal of the most glamorous kitchen.

Moreover, I think that a top-end kitchen — one with the inevitable Sub-Zero refrigerator and granite countertops — in an otherwise modest apartment or townhouse isn’t likely to carry the day.  Rather, prospective buyers may discount a kitchen’s worth if the rest of the dwelling doesn’t meet the same high standard.

I base my reasoning on the real estate principle of Continue reading

Out and About: One hard sell

Questionable kitchen of the apartment in question. (I wasn't able to do sufficient injustice in the photo to the insults that the owners heaped upon the space.)

It is one thing to stroll into “grandma’s” apartment or one with walls of vivid orange and blue or a unit with so much overstuffed furniture that breathing becomes a challenge.

It is quite another thing to walk into a co-op in which the origins of the owners’ taste are unfathomable and unalterably bad.

Although I’ve written about “the vision thing,” a limitation many buyers have when surveying a prospective purchase, I have to say that an apartment I recently viewed gave me pause.  It was hard to see past the execrable décor, for which I cannot summon a word or phrase that describes the aesthetic.

In a distinguished Central Park West building in the low 90s, the co-op is a Continue reading

Out and About: The big lie fools no one

(flickr photo by Phoney Nickel)

Anyone who regularly reads this column know that I find fault with asking prices most of the time in the Manhattan residential real estate market.

Let’s forget about irrational pricing, which can be explained by some combination of the listing broker’s ignorance or hubris and the seller obstinacy or imagination.  I’m sure you can add your own explanations as well.

With regard to those numerous condos, co-ops and townhouses with offering prices usually about 10-20 percent too high, the obvious reason for that commonplace situation rests on Continue reading

Out and About: Now you do finally see it

Apartment in search of a buyer

Hardly a week goes by that I don’t come across advice about staging.

Although this post doesn’t include any advice, I think the essentially before-and-after photos show why it’s normally harder to tempt a buyer with a vacant apartment than one that has been staged.

The condo shown in the photo is in a new development in West Harlem.  It is on the fifth floor of the building, which is across from Morningside Park, and prospective buyers could not be faulted for failing to envision its possibilities.

But show them the same apartment Continue reading

Out and About: Welcome to grandma’s place

Tastes do, after all, change.

I just had to share with you my photo (above) of the entrance of a classic six-room apartment in the mid 70s on a corner of Columbus Avenue.

“All the rooms looked like this,” the listing broker confessed, acknowledging that their wallpaper had been stripped off the others and a coat of white paint slapped on.  We agreed that the co-op must have been decorated Continue reading