Out and About: Beware of false hopes

I snapped this photo from the north balcony.  Below is how the project appears from the living room, from which the balcony rail is just visible.

From many apartments in the 37-story high-rise built in 1967 on Amsterdam Avenue in the low 60s, the views always impressed visitors.

Some of the condos retain those vistas, but those facing the site of a massive Fordham University construction project haven’t been so fortunate.  Even those above the 22-story building must contend with an ugly foreground.

I’ve written in the past about concerns all buyers should have about lot-line windows. This issue is different, and it centers on views that are protected by zoning restrictions and landmarking.

In other words, it is not enough to worry about the possibility of construction that could rise some day against your potential new home. Buyers also have to ascertain whether the area beyond is protected as well. Continue reading

Out and About: 2nd time is charm, 3rd better

View over Morningside Park toward Harlem

Listing  brokers like nothing more than being the second agent asked to sell a property.

When the first broker’s exclusive listing contract expires, that’s when the seller casts about for a fresh approach.

Sometimes the seller has legitimate concerns about the first broker — for example, unresponsiveness, poor marketing strategy, few open houses.

But the failure to unload the property often isn’t because of the broker: Continue reading

Out and About: Sale history could set record

Hours add up. . . to years. (Flickr photo by Ömer Ünlü)

It is pretty likely that some apartments and townhouses have been on the market for even a longer time, but a 2,030-sf apartment that has vainly sought a buyer at least since 2005 certainly deserves notice.

Vacant and desperate for renovation, the classic six-room condo is on a low floor of a desirable full-service building on Central Park West in the low 60s.  There are direct park views from living room and logical master bedroom (where the sound of screeching bus brakes does not make for easy listening), formal dining room,  maid’s room, galley kitchen, two bedrooms and two and a half baths.  A structural column in the middle of a vast foyer makes that space pretty much unusable.

Here is the strange price history to date Continue reading

Out and About: Live the impossible dream

Floorplan of Riverside Drive co-op “great for entertaining.”

The listing broker said the apartment would be great for entertaining.

I looked at her in wonderment, thinking she must have a dirty mind.

It turns out that she was referring to the kitchen.  But all I could focus on was the layout, which has the bedroom playing a dominant role.

There’s a good-size foyer at the entrance and then you’re in the living room with exposures so limited that it feels as though there are no windows.  Except. . . Continue reading

Out and About: Agent and seller at odds

A well-lighted cave is still a cave. (flickr photo by d'n'c)

Note: After my short break, normal frequency of posts resumes next week.

The agent grimaced when I asked at an open house how long her listing had been on the market.

“Forever,” was her one-word reply.

Checking out the two-bedroom, one-and-a-half-bath condo in Morningside Heights, I was underwhelmed by the $1,616-sf duplex.  My chief objection: The lower floor is in the building’s basement down an exceedingly narrow flight of stairs.

To her credit, the listing broker in describing that subterranean space did not glorify it as anything more than a playroom, media room or perhaps gym.

The half bath is down there, and the light from window wells is negligible.  It is a cave.

As for the rest of the apartment, Continue reading

Out and About: One into two doesn’t fly right

With a glut of one-bedroom apartments on the market, many of them inferior,  you have to wonder about a condo that has been for sale in the heart of Lincoln Square since early August.

How many bedrooms do you see?

Aside from the price — about which more in a bit — would someone please explain to me the justification for this apartment being marketed as having two bedrooms?  I, for one, see only one bedroom.

Moreover, if a buyer were to steal the dining area from the public space, the apartment’s appeal would be all but destroyed.  Also, given that the kitchen has no window and the trend these days is to open up kitchens, that option would be lost. Continue reading

Out and About: Is the price on target?

The four-bedroom, three-bath co-op on Central Park West in the low 90s first went on the market in February.  The price then was $1.595 million.

In May, the owner cut the price to $1.495 million.  And in June, down it went another $100,000, to $1.395 million with monthly maintenance of $3,848.  (Yeah, I know, you could do the math yourself.)

The attractively renovated corner apartment then took a temporary break for the summer, returning last month.  The price was unchanged.  Good decision? Continue reading

Weekly Roundup: Inventory shrinks, rates steady, renters outspend owners, landlords thrilled

Upper West Side zip code is second only to Las Vegas in federal tax liens–again

Scientifically suspect survey by biased group finds 74 percent of brokers expecting Q4 to be better than Q3

Schools snap up at land at a heady pace

Luxury rental building at Broadway and 77th Street to contain 181 units

Construction industry loses jobs in September as the real estate sector gains

You can make an appraiser’s life–and yours–easier by preparing for inspection

Auction set for condo in which Credit Suisse broker endured house arrest overlooking Madison Square Park

Did you miss purchasing one of the 10 Manhattan’s properties with lowest price per square foot?

Pricier Hamptons homes enjoy rebound in sales, in part thanks to foreign buyers

Biggest income inequality occurs in Morningside Heights-Hamilton Heights, lowest is in Bellerose-Rosedale in Queens

Scant respite seen for renters in latest report

Purchasing a new condo can have its drawbacks

It took a while, but Continue reading

Out and About: You gotta love the neighborhood

In early May, Riverside Park is this side of paradise.

A while back, I quoted Paul Purcell, who is a founder of Charles Rutenberg Realty, as mentioning what he termed an old saw:

You’ve got to like your home, but you’ve got to love your neighborhood.

Smart and obvious, though not to me until then.

The concept came back to me last month when watching a friend of mine, Teri Karush Rogers of BrickUnderground.com, on WNBC-TV, where she was talking about mistakes that buyers make.  She confessed that she twice had made one such mistake, and you’ve guessed what it is: She loved two places to which she moved but hated the neighborhoods.

As for me, I’ve lived in seven different Manhattan neighborhoods.  In order, they have been Morningside Heights, Washington Heights (in a section that has taken on airs as “Hudson Heights”), close to the East Village (18th and First Avenue), central West Village, Gramercy/Flatiron and now the Upper West Side near the 96th Street express stop on Broadway.

I can’t say Continue reading

Out and About: The unkindest cut

Endless hallways give away a wholesome past. This view is from the public area toward two of the bedrooms.

Since so many pre-war apartments on the Upper West Side were designed on a grand scale, with formal dining rooms and numerous bedrooms, it should be no surprise that many of them do not survive intact.

But I confess that I was surprised on a recent open house tour how frequently it is possible to encounter their offspring, as it were. In fact, four of the five units I visited one recent Sunday had been carved out of larger apartments.

Let me tell you that they were not only instantly recognizable as bastard progeny of bigger apartments, but they featured terrible layouts, wasted space and crude attempts to make the best of a bad thing.

Consider the photo above of Continue reading