Broker, Sell Thy House

Photo: Joshua Lutz/Redux for New York Magazine

Barbara Fox has helped hundreds of clients buy and sell apartments, but now that she’s trying to unload the West 73rd Street townhouse where she and her husband have lived for two decades, she’s stunned at how awkward the showings have been. She’s preoccupied by details—“I’d see a wall and think, Oh my God, I need to get that painted,” she recalls—and apologizes for imperfections prospective buyers would barely notice. Once, she was so distracted she tripped on the stairs, something she’d never done before. That’s when she threw her hands up and asked a colleague, Brad Loe (the two are pictured at left), to help market her home. “When you live someplace for a long time, you know everything about it,” she says. “And it’s better that you don’t.” (For the record, she’s asking $6.3 million, and the house is half a block off Central Park West.)

Just as doctors famously make the worst patients, brokers say it’s tough to sell their own homes because they’re just too close. When Corcoran’s Maria Pashby decided to swap uptown for downtown, she was so sad to see her “nest” go that she dumped all the negotiations on her daughter, also a broker. (It sold within three days.) “Oh, God—I didn’t want to be present for the showing. We all get so emotional,” she says. “It’s important to step aside. When you try to do it yourself, it’s disastrous.”

Bellmarc’s Denise Rosner can relate; four years ago, when she briefly put her one-bedroom on the market, she found herself taking every comment personally. “If somebody raised an eyebrow at my decorating choices, I wanted to throw them out,” she says. Two months ago, though, when she was truly ready to move, Rosner recruited Richard Merton to represent her, paying a full 6 percent commission. (“I was surprised, but she was adamant,” reveals Merton, who’s now helping another co-worker with her sale.) Rosner says pragmatism ruled: “I wanted [him] to deal with the difficult conversations that can happen with a transaction this huge.” Besides, relying on someone else frees up an agent’s time. While her daughter conducted showings, says Pashby, “I was handling my own open houses.”

Fox says her experience has given her newfound understanding for what clients are going through. “I’ve realized how difficult it is to keep the emotions in check,” she says. Buying a property, though, is a different story. “It’s not yours yet,” she explains. “It’s easier to be removed.”

Swimsuit Model Swaps Beaches
Now that Hamptons Über-couple Christie Brinkley and Peter Cook have decided to sell Tower Hill, their 20-acre Bridgehampton compound priced at $30 million, sources say it looks likely that their 4.5-acre North Haven estate will come back off the market—even though they’ve been trying to unload it for $15 million all summer. It’s hard to predict for sure where they’ll end up, though: Locals report that the onetime top model and her architect husband have been doing their fair share of boosting the already scorching South Fork real estate market, buying and selling properties with gusto through their longtime broker, Prudential Douglas Elliman’s Lori Barbaria. One recent purchase: An oceanfront “cottage” in Water Mill. Clive Owen is also apparently smitten with the Hamptons; he’s been spotted in Sag Harbor, where he’s rumored to be bunking for several weeks in August in an ultraluxe rental listed at $80,000 for the month.

Triple Assessment
142 West End Avenue, Apartment 6R
550-square-foot co-op alcove studio with one bath.
Asking Price: $360,000.
Maintenance: $658.73 (includes gas and electric).
Brokers: Frances Rickard and Sean O’Donnell, Century 21 William B. May.

Courtesy of William B. May

This studio in Lincoln Towers, a cluster of buildings put up in the sixties, was deliberately priced to sell quickly, says listing broker Frances Rickard. But was it too low? Let our panel decide.

Jon Charnas, Fox Residential:
The studios at Lincoln Towers, says Charnas, are roomier than most, boosting the price. His main complaint: “The kitchen needs a redo, [but] it’s pretty large for a studio.”
His assessment: $375,000.

Kris Kruse, Halstead:
The alcove helps a lot, Kruse points out immediately. “You can define a separate area for a bedroom,” she says. But the typical young buyer for such an apartment may not pass muster: “This is a tough board,” explains Kruse. “They like to see eighteen months of a prudent reserve and 30 percent down.”
Her assessment: $350,000.

Jeff Glovsky, Nest Seekers International:
The open southern views and separate kitchen impressed Glovsky, as did the storage: “How many studios do you see with large walk-in closets?” But the “institutional” windows turned him off, as did the apartment’s condition. “There’s a lot of work that needs to be done.”
His assessment: $400,000.

Broker, Sell Thy House