Out and About: Ignore that old thing?

Living room of apartment on the market in the low 70s for 42 weeks.

Consider a one-bedroom apartment that lingered on the market for 42 weeks after it was first listed for $575,000 last September.

The 725-sf co-op in the low 70s on a corner of West End Avenue has suffered the indignity of no fewer than four price reductions, to $550,000 in October, $529,000 in January, $499,000 in February and, finally, $489,000 in June before it slunk from the market two weeks ago.  (Monthly maintenance for the unit is $1,290.)

If ever a listing could be viewed as stale, this was it.

Any of us can imagine what deficits a stale unit might endure.  Where to begin? Continue reading

Out and About: It’s wrong to gild a (faded) lily

This photo of a brownstone

Because we are moving into August, there will be just one more Out and About before Labor Day.  But you’ll find other posts, published somewhat less frequently than usual, until then.

Have a look at the photo at the left and consider how much you approve of painting over antique woodwork.

Having seen that wonderfully ornate woodwork, I suspect that someone has monkeyed with the photo. In person, I was turned off by many layers of paint that obscured the detail and failed to cover up numerous underlying flaws.  (Unfortunately, the photo doesn’t do the bannister injustice.)

It seems clear that the paint, as usually is the case, was a cost-saving shortcut that, to my mind, only amplified the defects in the woodwork. How lovely that ornamentation would have looked when repaired and polished. But how expensive the project would be.

Such corner cutting is typical of what I see in turn-of-the-century brownstones that have been divided into apartments, and I think Continue reading

Out and About: I’m in love, alas unrequited

Photos of duplex at 444 Central Park West courtesy of listing broker Matthew Steele of CitySites Real Estate Group.

In the course of my open house rounds, I see properties that are listed for as little as $300,000 and as much as many millions, well into the double digits.

You might expect me to go gaga (sorry, Lady) over the most expensive ones.  And they obviously do make a strong impression, but they begin to look the same after a while.

I find that I can pretty well predict how a high-priced property will look even before I go through the door whether in a pre-war or a post-war building.  It’s the exceptions at various price points that get my heart beating fast, however. 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: Love granite? You’ll love this.

Granite, granite everywhere.

When it comes to pet peeves, I do have more than one concerning kitchens.  (Truth be told, I have a trunk full of pet peeves centered on real estate alone.)

This peeve is a small one compared with my others and relates to granite in the kitchen.  I’m fine, though no fan of, countertops made of granite, which have proliferated beyond any stonecutter’s most improbable fantasies a couple of decades ago.

My issue is granite upon granite upon granite, especially when it is the same granite.

An unacceptably priced two-bedroom condo with overshadowed balcony called my attention to the matter.  Continue reading

Out and About: Renovations explain price differences

A broker at his open house recently shared with me what he believes is an effective pricing subtlety. Frankly, I can’t disagree with him.

For Blaise, the pitch better be low. (Flickr photo by clappstar)

When it comes to pricing apartments that don’t demand renovation, about which more below, Richard has learned that buyers are none too likely to lowball their offers.

However, with apartments that need work, said he, they invariably cut their offers significantly below the asking price.

The listing he was holding open that Sunday was a prime example. In the mid 70s on the Upper West Side, the co-op had a price of approximately $2 million. Continue reading

Out and About: You can’t always get what you want

Staged living room of a mid-level apartment at 535 West End Avenue.

Brokers are no different from you in an important way.  Given the opportunity to view exceptionally costly properties, especially when lunch is served on a broker tour, they’re bound to show up.

I was one of those brokers yesterday, when open houses were held for several units at 535 West End Avenue, Continue reading