‘This is an amazingly active price range,” says Halstead Property Company president Diane Ramirez. “The confidence is back.” That means that even buyers in the $4 million market—one that most New Yorkers would consider mighty rarefied—are running up against compromises. What do you get for your (big) money? “It’s not the Taj Mahal,” Ramirez laughs. “That’s for sure.”
As with apartment-hunting at any price point, it’s a question of priorities. If you must have a Central Park West address, you’ll likely have to settle for less-than-stunning views, as you can only afford a co-op below the treetops. Michael Goldenberg of Halstead jokes, “You should say it has views of the bark.” “It’s always about compromise,” agrees Kurt Weyrauch of Brown Harris Stevens. “No matter how much money you have.”
In the current climate, you can also forget about any real negotiation. Brokers report that sale prices have been just a few percent off asking—small potatoes, really, since most co-op boards require one and a half to three times the asking price in liquid assets, which tends to freeze out new-money strivers. As a result, condos are coveted and pricey. Jessica Ushan of Coldwell Banker Hunt Kennedy describes her buyers in this price range as “wealthy young families, and empty-nesters coming from big homes in the city.”
Also, BHS broker John Burger notes that in small white-glove buildings like the Campanile, on way-East 52nd Street, “you pay a premium for the service ratio. If you have a full-time staff, but only fifteen shareholders, the monthly carrying charges are about $6,000.” He pauses to let that sink in. “Which is something for people to consider.”
On the other hand, buyers with no particular love for Fifth or Park have plenty of options. For just over $4 million, one buyer found himself the lucky owner of a 4,300-square-foot, nine-room apartment in a gorgeous prewar because he’d agreed to check out a “slightly less distinguished avenue”: Lexington. Similarly, a full-floor loft in the best parts of Soho and Tribeca is quite attainable when you’re in this price range. (If it’s in central Soho, however, you might budget a little extra for a weekend place, to dodge the mall walkers.) The largest and best townhouses in Brooklyn Heights, close to the Promenade, have also begun to move into the $4 million range.
And Tamir Shemesh of Douglas Elliman has been been showing apartments in the Lower East Side, of all places. “There’s a new development on Essex Street, with huge penthouses and outdoor spaces. This is the first time ever that we’ve gotten multi-million-dollar apartments in that area.”
Finally, you might think about becoming a country squire—and staying within subway range. Ushan says she’s been hearing talk of Mill Basin (at the southeastern edge of Brooklyn), where houses on the waterfront approach $4 million.
Upper West Side
1 West 72nd Street. Two-bedroom co-op. $4.2 million.
Two words: The Dakota. “You’re paying a premium for antiquity and scarcity,” says Brown Harris Stevens’s John Burger. (And woodwork!) It’s on the side of the building; park-facing apartments are several million more.
Upper East Side
Park Avenue in the low Nineties. Four-bedroom co-op. $4.3 million.
“They were brave, and they’re going to get rewarded,” Elliman’s Daniela Kunen says of the buyers, who are in for a full renovation. The apartment sold two months ago; Kunen says it’d approach $5 million now.
Upper East Side
Fifth Avenue in the Sixties. Two-bedroom co-op. Approx. $4 million.
This postwar apartment is on a high floor and a southern corner, always the best on Fifth Avenue for light and views.
Broome Street west of Broadway. 7,000-square-foot loft. Approx. $3.5 million.
Views to the south and east, plus a lovely interior courtyard, make up for no doorman and a few needed minor renovations. “An unspoiled artist’s life that hadn’t been completely Sheetrocked over like most of them,” gushes broker Elise Ward.
17 White Street. 4,200-square-foot loft. $3.4 million.
“Amazing” is how Halstead’s Steve Kliegerman describes it, and the 50-foot living room bears him out.
West 12th Street near Fifth Avenue. Two-bedroom penthouse condo. Approx. $5 million.
“That’s a real trophy apartment,” Brown Harris Stevens’s Kurt Weyrauch says, despite the odd layout (bedrooms below, living room upstairs, immense terraces) and need for renovation.