Realty Bites: Think Small
Got a studio? Get used to it.
Boy, are you stuck. Sure, those big lofts and classic sixes are megapriced. But you don't want to be a player -- you just need a place a little roomier than your studio. Too bad the slowdown the Times trumpeted a few weeks back isn't affecting the one- and two-room places where mere mortals live, brokers say. The problem now, notes DG Neary director of marketing David Goldsmith, is that "as prices really climb, people are forced into a whole different bracket. . . . They find that one-bedrooms are $400,000. So you've got more affluent people buying studios because they have no other choice." In other words, a professional making $90,000 a year is, realistically, now in studioland. It's only getting worse: Bellmarc Realty principal Neil Binder adds that "a lot of condos constructed recently were larger-sized -- the smaller new apartments have been rentals." Which means there's little new supply, and a portion of the existing stock is being gobbled up by expansionist next-door neighbors. "The leap from the studio to a one-bedroom and from one to two has become enormous," says Binder. "People who have low-priced apartments are incapable of moving up, even though they've had appreciation." And that appreciation isn't always so dramatic. Goldsmith cites 200 West 20th Street: "In 1992, I brokered six studio deals there -- the range in prices was $31,000 to $40,000. Today, if one came on the market, it'd be between $179,000 and $199,000." Sounds dramatic -- but "when the building converted in 1987, they were going for between $90,000 and $120,000." That's a long-term gain of less than 5 percent per year. In short, not only can't you afford a bigger place -- yours isn't worth as much, relatively speaking, as you thought.
How Carol Kane was able to get her park view.
Back in 1983, Carol Kane was just finishing up her run on Taxi as Andy Kaufman's TV wife, Simka Gravas, when she signed on as one of the original owners of the co-op conversion at 41 Central Park West. Now she's pocketed a $1.3 million fare for her apartment and flagged down a rental with a terrace. Kane, a wackily menacing character actress who's been in everything from Annie Hall to Freaky Friday and currently stars in Showtime's Beggars and Choosers, decided she wanted a park view, which her two-bedroom didn't have. She dropped by an open house in her building, but the apartment wasn't what she wanted. While there, she met a Gucci executive who was moving out of his rental overlooking the park. She saw his place and liked it, and Mr. Gucci helped smooth the way to her getting the lease. Kane's place was bought by a shopper at the same open house, run by Harry Frank of Harrison Properties, who introduced everyone and orchestrated the deals. Kane was represented by Peggy Koch of Phyliss Koch Real Estate. Her old place has a fireplace and one of those small "Juliet" balconies, perfect for Evita impersonations -- and appropriate, since Madonna lives in the building.
Upper East Side
55 East End Avenue
Three-bedroom, two-bath, 1,600-square-foot co-op. Asking: $875,000. Selling: $850,000. Maintenance: $1,522. Time on market: seven weeks.
It's tough finding a place for any family of four in New York. But what if that family is one human, one cat, and two potentially overfriendly Labrador retrievers? Some co-op boards just might not approve. "You have to search through all the listings and see which co-op and condo boards allow pets," says Citi-Habitats broker David Graubard, who managed to find an apartment in this pet-friendly postwar for his client, a Wall Street broker, and his animal companions. "Sometimes a condo or co-op board will even interview the dogs." He suggests getting reference letters for the pooches, too. (Presumably East Side boards are more concerned with the pedigree.) The seller, represented by Corcoran's Linda Stillwell, is moving to the Garden State, where pets roam free.
845 First Avenue
Three-bedroom, three-bath, 2,854-square-foot condo. Asking: $4.57 million. Selling: $4.57 million. Maintenance: not yet calculated.
The nearly finished Trump World Tower is a 900-foot black monolith, and though it might not be fun to look at, it's sure fun to look out of. Hence the trip a former Cisco Systems board member made before he plunked down his until-recently paper wealth: He and his broker, Charles H. Greenthal's Andrea D'Amico, boarded an open-air construction elevator and, after a pause for the operator to pick up a few bags of cement, ascended to the not-yet-enclosed seventy-fifth-floor slab. Back on the ground, he signed a contract for the asking price -- a sum nearly as vertiginous as his inspection tour.