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May-September Romance

It's easy to fall in love when the weather's warm -- but canny home buyers strike while the city is cold.

EDITED BY CHRIS BONANOS

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Shopping for seasonal bargains is as simple as it is age-old: parkas in spring, bikinis in autumn. But apartments? Yes, it's true: If you want a garden or a terrace, you might want to put off your purchase until the snow is falling.

"We price rental units with terraces 10 percent higher from May to September," says Citi Habitats CEO Andrew Heiberger. "We recently had a listing on Gramercy Park South with a garden that we rented for $4,500 a month. If it had come on the market in winter, we'd price it around $3,800."

Sometimes, the apartments just won't move at any other time. "I just sold the most creepy, decrepit 550-square-foot brownstone apartment in the West Eighties, simply because of its private, 650-square-foot garden," recalls Corcoran's Steve Friedman. "Some people didn't even want to walk in the front door -- it was that rank. I sold it for $355,000, but it really broke down to $55,000 for the apartment, $300,000 for the garden." Corcoran's Kai Thompson tells a similar story: "I had a two-bedroom penthouse on Beekman Place with a beautiful 1,650-foot terrace. When it came on the market it was still gray and cold, and no one wanted to go out on the terrace -- they just glanced at it from the living room. Everyone kept saying, 'When are you going to lower the price?' But I had a feeling that once the weather got nice . . ." Sure enough, come April, she got three offers within two days -- all "extremely close" to the asking price of $3.6 million. (The same goes for public greenery. "When the park's got leaves in it, it's a much easier sell," says Heiberger.)

The other rule that holds is Don't go shopping when you're hungry. "People catch spring fever, and they think, 'Wouldn't it be great to have a garden?' " says Friedman. "But if you go look at a place with a lush garden, the chances of you closing before the first flake of snow are very slim. Really, if you want to be barbecuing in the summer, you should be buying in fall or winter."

Click here for this week's Big Deals
Click here to read about Jocelyne Wildenstein's new pad


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