Run for the Boarder

Photo: James Leynse/Corbis

Susanne Prosser is a bunch older than the “three really cool girls that go to FIT” who, like her, posted last week on Craigslist. And she’s far more established than the 24-year-old actor with the “bartending habit.” The 37-year-old marketing executive does have one thing in common with them, though: She needs a roommate. “It’s not just for people in their twenties anymore,” she says.

In this superexpensive real-estate market, mature professionals like Prosser (pictured, mid-interview, with prospective housemate) are seeking living situations they thought they’d outgrown years ago. For Prosser, renting out her extra bedroom means the difference between living in a Madison Avenue prewar or a place suitable only for hosting keggers. “Certain people [would] rather sacrifice on space, and others just want a nicer living situation,” explains broker Samantha Kleier. The result is less arrested postadolescence and more akin to the situation common a couple generations ago, when families took in a boarder to deal with hard financial times.

Prosser admits she “wouldn’t be able to afford something like this on my own,” at least not without sacrificing. “I wouldn’t be able to enjoy the city. You shouldn’t just be working for the rent check.” Elizabeth, a woman in her mid-forties in search of housemates in Sag Harbor, agrees. “It’s a conscious decision for a better quality of life,” she says.

The trade-off, of course, is privacy, and (as many postcollegiate sharers quickly learn) the ideal boarder is an absent one. “It’s not great, but the best part is we never have to see him,” says one fortysomething woman of her roommate, who works long hours and is never in the rent-stabilized apartment she and her husband and children share with him. (She requested anonymity for fear of being bounced from the building.) And a few people simply like having a built-in pal. “It’s nice to have someone to come home to,” says Ken Scudder, a 38-year-old communications strategist and part-time comedian. Or a jolt for a humdrum social life. “What’s the point of having a loft if I’m hanging out on my own?” asks Matt, a 36-year-old hedge-fund trader who could easily handle the $5,400-a-month rent on his own. “It’s not like we’re holding ragers, but it’s become a party pad,” he says. “More so than if we each lived on our own.”

Charity Begins at Home
Poor Britney Spears. Her eight-room quadruplex in the Silk Building on East 4th Street—you may know it as the building that houses Tower Records—has been sitting on the market, unsold, for a year and a half, while the tabloids reported that she was short of cash. And just when it looks like she’s coming to New York for a while, to take over the title role in Broadway’s Sweet Charity once Christina Applegate leaves in January, she suddenly has a handful of interested buyers. That just possibly may be because her new broker, Adam Modlin of the Modlin Group, dropped the price to $4.995 million; his predecessor was asking $6 million. If the new mom is truly Broadway-bound, sources say she’ll most likely sell the 4th Street place anyway and look for another place downtown. Modlin declined to comment.

Same Space, Different Place
What a Difference a Wall Makes
Though these two co-ops in sleepy Inwood, the neighborhood at the uppermost tip of Manhattan, are comparable in size and condition, one’s listed at $25,000 more than the other. All because the layout of the apartment at 70 Park Terrace East is that much more flexible than its counterpart in the building right next door. Listing broker Kathy Jones says the owner was able to separate a large, windowed alcove from the living area, creating a valuable second bedroom. Ironically, that most marketable asset may disappear once it sells. “The people who’ve shown interest want to tear the wall down to have a more loftlike space,” she says.

70 Park Terrace East, Apartment 6J
The Facts: Two-bedroom, one-bath, 900-square-foot co-op.
Asking Price: $350,000.
Maintenance: $820 per month.
Broker: Kathy Jones, the Corcoran Group.

50 Park Terrace East, Apartment 3J
The Facts: One-bedroom, one-bath, 830-square-foot co-op.
Asking Price: $325,000.
Maintenance: $530 per month.
Broker: Kathy Jones, the Corcoran Group.

Run for the Boarder