Out and About: Morningside co-ops for a song

When buyers are in search of a bargain in Manhattan, many tend to rule out the Upper West Side.

Morningside Heights arguably is beyond that neighborhood, but a complex at the edge of Columbia University, Manhattan School of Music and Union Theological Seminary is also a stone’s throw from excellent transportation, shopping and the West Side’s numerous other amenities.

Morningside Gardens

The first urban renewal project in the city, the cooperative complex is called Morningside Gardens, which has comprised six mid-to-high rise buildings and 987 apartments on eight acres since 1957.

Nine religious and academic institutions in the area banded together with David Rockefeller to help sponsor the project and to ward off further urban blight.

While the complex has an overwhelmingly institutional ambiance Continue reading

Out and About: The little things matter

Can you see yourself here?

When it comes to showing an apartment to its best advantage, the little things count.

A listing broker can’t change an awkward layout, dress up a kitchen with granite countertops or eliminate blocked exposures.

But a savvy broker knows how to alter a listing so that prospective buyers can imagine themselves in it.  The things that mar the listing in the photograph above overwhelm the eye and cloud the vision, but they are, in the scope of things, small matters easily fixed.

I saw this three-bedroom, three-bath co-op on Riverside Drive in the very low 90s not long after it had been offered for sale, at $2.795 million with maintenance of $2,867 a month.

The 1,905-sf unit has much going for it Continue reading

Out and About: A dormitory for $10.5 million

In a classy full-service Lincoln Square high-rise, the condo is on a very high floor with superlative views of the skyline, parks and rivers in three directions.

Monthly nut: $7,082.  Asking price:$10.5 million.

Covering 4,134 square feet, the apartment is undeniably spacious.  There are a living room (22’7″ x 19’4″), den (11’2″ x 10′) and “great room” (21’3″ x 16’3″) at the western end of the place.

Visitors entering at the opposite end of a nearly 40-foot-long hallway, termed “gallery” for marketing purposes, peer down a very long tunnel past the doors of five of the unit’s six bedrooms splayed left and right like a high-class college dormitory or hotel.

At the end of the “gallery,” Continue reading

Out and About: The trouble with boxes

What buyer doesn’t savor the idea of a desperate seller?

Almost nothing spells desperation more clearly than the sight of moving boxes piled in a corner.

So it was when I stopped by an open house of a one-bedroom co-op in the very low 90s between Riverside Drive and West End Avenue.  The sound of prospective purchasers smacking their lips was practically audible.

And well they may have appreciated the 750-sf corner unit, which contains an above average eat-in kitchen, spacious living room, plenty of closet space, nicely updated bath with subway tiles, through-wall air conditioning and generally open exposures in three directions.

The only issue worth noting is Continue reading

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: Kitchens don’t have to talk

Although kitchens don’t have to talk, they speak loudly to prospective buyers.

In the mid 80s on a corner of Broadway, one co-op sits above another in the same line with the same dimensions.  Although the kitchens do not represent the only difference between the units, they may well sway buyers more than anything else.

The renovated corner apartments, which can be purchased separately or together from the same owner, are listed at only $100,000 apart.  The gap between their ultimate selling prices is likely to be much bigger.

In the photos (above, the less expensive co-op), perhaps you can see why one kitchen (below, the costlier unit) might be responsible alone for a buyer’s willingness to pay more than for the other apartment . Continue reading

Out and About: Two too awkward for words

Apartments that have been truncated or expanded almost always suffer from contorted flow. (Flickr photo by hpb_pix)

From virtually the moment you enter some apartments, the sense may emerge that something is very wrong.

Although a bad smell, a rundown appearance or a suffocating gloom can be the source of the sense, a bastardized layout also can account for a more subtle — if no less offputting — reaction

Such is the case for a co-op or condo that has been chopped from a larger one and, frequently, an apartment that has been combined from one or two adjacent units.

Two apartments in the low 100s suffer from such a disconcerting burden.  Continue reading

Out and About: You call that a dining room?

Call me a Luddite, but I think of a room with four walls when “dining room” shows up in a listing or on a floor plan.

With just two walls that mark the ends of an alcove, I’d call it a dining “space.”  Technically, however, I’m wrong, according to the New York City Administrative Code.

The Code specifies that a dining space may be no bigger than 55 square feet; that limitation suggests that anything else may be called a dining room.  (No dining “space” is permitted in an apartment with fewer than three rooms, the Code states.)

As is evident in the floorplan above, Continue reading

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: Floors can be winning or wanting

In my years as a real estate broker, I naturally ask buyers what is important to them in their new home.

A great kitchen?  Proximity to a subway?  Central air conditioning?  A doorman?

Floor in new development.

The responses vary, but not once has a prospective buyer suggested to me that good flooring was essential.

Yet floors can be the, uh, foundation of the emotional response buyers have when they enter an apartment.  The type and condition of the flooring may well make the difference between a sale and a search that continues.

Tastes vary when it comes to floors, and just as kitchen styles have evolved, so have floors.  There was a time when Continue reading