Out and About: You can forget about the gym

On a clear day, you can. . . climb up forever.

Selling an apartment is hard enough these days.  Selling one in a building without elevators is a challenge that can be overwhelming.

The photo looking up from the bottom of the stairwell nicely illustrates the problem facing the broker (and, of course, the owner) of an apartment four full flights from the building’s vestibule, itself several steps up from the street in the low 100s between Columbus and Amsterdam avenues.

The broker tried to put the best face on her challenge.

She really likes the fact that there’s a little landing Continue reading

Out and About: Seller lives in Fantasyland.

Lincoln Center (Flickr photo by Stewart Morris)

He closed on the place only last May, when it was listed for $2.15 million.

There was a bidding war for the two-bedroom, two-terrace, two-bath penthouse in a Central Park block of the mid 60s, an area that is part of Lincoln Square.

Because of the so-called “war,” the current owner — who appears to be an advertising agency executive — paid $2.5 million for the co-op, which costs him $3,269 in maintenance a month.

But for undisclosed reasons relating to the seller’s inability to continue living in New York, according to the listing broker, the apartment went on the market again in early December with an asking price that boggles the mind. 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

Out and About: Studios built not only for sleeping

Central Park Studios, at 15 W. 67th St., is one building of several originally designed for artists on that block.

Rare is the individual who can resist the ineffable charm, halo of history and peerless patina of apartments created as studios for visual artists and musicians.  They exist predominantly, though not exclusively, on the Upper West Side.

Buildings created with artists in mind often feature some combination of soaring ceilings, leaded-glass windows, British overtones, ornamental woodwork and, naturally, great northern light.

I can think of such buildings on Central Park South, above Carnegie Hall and in the Lincoln Square area.

There is almost nothing like them, and that undoubtedly explains the premiums they normally command. Continue reading

Out and About: Units with too much personality always have a hard time finding the right buyer

Pumpkin, sienna, squash or terracotta--whatever you call the color of the built-ins and walls narrows the market for this $2.75 million apartment.

When an apartment shows beautifully, it always is a pleasure for me to look around.  The Upper West Side co-op shown here was no exception.

But I don’t see how it can find a buyer quickly, even with a price cut last month by $225,000, to $2.75 million, after just three weeks on the market; monthly maintenance is $3,432.

First, the pluses:  Continue reading

Out and About: Can drama trump the views?

Two apartments that I recently visited had me lingering with unconcealed appreciation, practically awestruck, for their architecture, not just their décor.

I’m not denying that the look of the units had to have underscored the impression the bones conveyed.  But so daring and dramatic was the interior architecture that, to my mind, the apartments went beyond winning to wow.

Let me tell you about one of them, which happens to be the most expensive of the pair by far–$5.2 million.   Continue reading

Out and About: New law clarifies buyer representation

Note: After this post, Out and About will be published on Mondays or Tuesdays instead of the current Friday schedule.  Next one: Jan. 14.

 A new statutory requirement for real estate agents and associate brokers (licensees I customarily refer to merely as “brokers”) went into effect on Jan. 1, providing critically important additional protection to consumers and causing confusion, as well as consternation,  among the ranks of the untutored.

Enacted last year, the amendment to real property law modifies the agency disclosure form to allow advanced consent to dual agency and now adds a requirement for use of agency disclosure forms in real estate transactions for condominiums and cooperatives.  (You can download a PDF of the form.) The form lets you know who is representing whom, and it applies to both sales and rentals.

Fundamental to the form is an understanding of the difference Continue reading

Out and About: Is the emperor wearing clothes?

The listing broker appealingly staged this UWS apartment himself.

When a property has been staged, you almost always know as soon as you walk in.

One way you can tell immediately is if the placed is overdressed–too much stylish furniture well placed and too many objéts that are exactly right for the space. There might be a gorgeous throw draped all too casually over the arm of a sofa, a dainty flower in a bud vase on the bathroom vanity, a bottle of wine flanked by crystal goblets. Continue reading

Do you enjoy the sight of sausage being made?

This co-op in the west 60s is attractive and, below $600,000, pretty well priced. But notice its placement next to the entrance and essentially in the living room.

Some time ago, perhaps years, I wrote that kitchen trends inevitably change.

We can walk into a property and immediately classify that room as a product of the 60s, 70s, 80s and so on.  I predicted that the era of stainless steel and granite soon would end.

Apparently, I made the suggestion prematurely, though I am certain that, in time, I will be correct.  You know, like a stopped clock.

I also believe that open kitchens Continue reading

Out and About: Before buying, fall in love with the nabe


A Central Park block in the mid 90s.

An extraordinarily wise and experienced real estate professional–okay, Paul Purcell is a founder of Charles Rutenberg Realty, with which I’m affiliated–once said this to a seller whose apartment we were pricing:

You’ve got to like the apartment, but you’ve got to love the neighborhood.

Honestly, I’d never considered that criterion with quite so much emphasis.  When I think of it, however, the notion of which part of the city appeals to a buyer naturally has to come first.  (With me, it was one factor on which I have been willing to compromise, having lived in neighborhoods as diverse as Washington Heights and Gramercy Park, among several others.)

But I get it.

We all know that there are Continue reading