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: Half a measure isn’t enough

This photo makes my point that the kitchen looks fine at a glance. But the cabinets, countertop, floor and appliances are wanting.

Surely your parents and teacher suggested that there was no point in doing something if you didn’t do it well.

I have to wonder whether some sellers ever got that message.  They’ll slap on a coat of white paint, install low-grade appliance and add cheap cabinets to, as we say, fluff up a property.

Who do they think they are fooling?

While I am sure that what they have replaced was pretty objectionable and that the property looks superficially more saleable, Continue reading

Out and About: How does your garden grow?

One of the houses with virtues that Barbara Corcoran extolled recently on the Today Show.

The one-bedroom, two-bath duplex I was checking out during a Sunday open house recently has two assets and many liabilities.

On the minus side are its entry almost directly into the small kitchen (in which an ancient dishwasher caught my eye), cramped living room, a spiral staircase so narrow that I had to hunch my shoulders, its bedroom (albeit one that fits the legal definition) in the basement and baths that I’d classify as ordinary.

On the plus side is its location in a Central Park block of the high 60s, a stone’s throw from Lincoln Center.  (To digress, when you see “steps from” in a listing, consider the Fair Housing Act, which bars discrimination against persons with disabilities.)

Also on the plus side — and the only conceivable explanation for the co-op’s inflated asking price of Continue reading

Out and About: One from Column A, B and/or C

Unless the odor of cooking food happens to waft from a restaurant, I can’t say that I think of Chinese food very often when looking at apartments for sale.

But I thought of the choices that menus sometimes offer while visiting three apartments in the low 70s between Columbus Avenue and Central Park West.  I’m not sure which of the three I liked best, perhaps the one-bedroom unit separated from the two-bedroom co-op by a sad studio.

Buyers can choose any of the apartments alone, combine the studio and one-bedroom, combine the studio and two-bedroom or purchase all three.  They are lined up along a side of their 1925 building, which has a laundry room and concierge as its amenities. The current prices: Continue reading

The Big Apple: Rents up, condo owners sinking

Luxury markets pulls up Q2 average price, though volume declines

Overall sales volume of condominiums and cooperative apartments in Manhattan has been off about 11 percent so far in the second quarter compared with same period last year, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis of the city’s data.

A year ago, the market was bouncing back strongly from the after-effects of the financial crisis.

Prices have remained flat. Data on closings show that median prices in the second quarter were 1.2 percent below prices during the year-earlier period, while average prices rose by 1.5 percent.

The average price for a Manhattan apartment was about $1.39 million in the latest period. The figures are based on closings filed with the city as of 15 days before the end of each quarter.

Russians are invading Continue reading

The Big Apple: Years of inventory? Much more!

Eight to 17 years is an S&P projection for clearing shadow inventory in the five boroughs

It will take more than a decade to clear up all the shadow inventory in the residential real estate market in New York state, according to new report released by Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services.

That is more than three times longer than it will take the rest of the nation, a difference that the report largely attributes to the greater time it takes to foreclose on a property in New York.

According to the report, shadow inventory in Brooklyn will take the longest to unwind at more than 17 years. Bronx was close behind at 16.5 years, and Staten Island recorded 12 years. Manhattan fared the best, coming in at a little more than eight years.

Unlisted Upper East Side home finds buyer for. . . $47 million

A grand East Side townhouse that has been quietly shopped by its owners for three years is under contract for more than $47 million, further evidence that the top-end of the Manhattan market is soaring.

The 33-foot-wide townhouse on East 69th Street once belonged to Continue reading

Out and About: A textbook case of overpricing?

Everything about this co-op is superlative. (Brown Harris Stevens photo via OLR)

When I walked into a studio apartment in the high 60s on Central Park West, the gut renovation bowled me over.

So did the price, $980,00 with monthly maintenance of $1,166.  That for a north-facing co-op of probably no more than 550 square feet on a high floor in a full-service post-war building.  From the balcony, and only the balcony unless you stand at the window, there are superb views of the park.

But $980,000, I wondered aloud? I told the listing broker that I couldn’t imagine anyone paying that much, but he told me that Continue reading

The High Road: When outside, where are you?

You want a balcony? Take your pick.

It’s not a big deal, but have you noticed how many brokers use interchangeably the terms “balcony,” “terrace” and “patio?”

And knowing the differences ain’t that hard.  But precision in the world of real estate brokerage is everything.

In a superficial search, I didn’t find definitions of the terms in the Administrative Code of New York City, where they would be found if mentioned beyond any construction requirements.

I’ll bet you know the definitions (derived from close variations online) even if so many brokers seem to ignore them for one innocent or nefarious reason or another: Continue reading

Out and About: Get outta there!

School at Fox Creek, Tall grass Prairie National Preserve

THAT'S what counts as outdoor space. (Flickr photo by Kansas Explorer 3128)

Who doesn’t yearn for a home with outdoor space?


Here in a Manhattan of cement sidewalks and limestone canyons, it is those folks who fit into one or more of the following categories:

1.  Pragmatists, who know they’ll be spending most of their time at home indoors and want the biggest bang for their purchase dollars;

2.  Floraphobics, who detest gardening;

3.  Realists, who abhor street noise, nosy neighbors and immoderate heat, cold, rain or wind;

4.  Anal retentives, who deplore the use of a balcony as a “bonus” storage room.

I’m sure you can think of other types as well, but the fact is that even they may tend to salivate at the possibilities offered by outdoor space, which I believe is excessively sought and insufficiently used.

Notwithstanding, appraisal executive Jonathan Miller has told me that the correct valuation of outdoor space ranges between one-third and one-half the price attributed to a property’s interior on a per-square-foot basis.  Most sellers and their listing brokers tend to price an apartment accordingly, but others think of such places as heaven on earth.

Consider two duplexes separated by six blocks just west of Columbus Avenue in the 70s. Continue reading