Few details would distinguish computer consultant Scott Seidenstock’s apartment from any other Lower East Side two-bedroom in Co-op Village. It’s in decent original condition, and has a balcony and a sellable view of the Empire State Building. Then again, there is the stripper pole in the living room, complete with a stage and strobe lights. Seidenstock (pictured) and his girlfriend love it. “We have a lot of fun,” he says. But he placed his co-op on the market three weeks ago—“I’m looking to buy a brownstone,” he explains—and once his broker starts showing the place, buyers may not be so charmed. (He says he won’t dismantle the stage until he moves.) “People [who’ve visited] have given me strange looks, and some don’t say anything,” he admits. “It’s like the 300-pound gorilla in the room.” One naïve family didn’t know what it was, he says, and their 3-year-old started playing on it.
Sometimes, an apartment’s distinguishing feature makes it a hard sell, and no amount of fast talk can persuade a seller to change it or a potential buyer to look deeper. Agent Michele Kleier says it took forever to find a buyer for a Park Avenue nine-room she was marketing in 2005. Its walls had been torn down to make the place feel like a Tribeca loft and showcase the owner’s art collection. But the art wasn’t exactly Rothko: Much of it was extremely explicit, including multiple casts of the owner’s private parts. Another piece incorporated a huge photograph of the World Trade Center—distressing in an entirely different way. “People were either distracted or very turned off,” she remembers. Told he would be turning away potential bidders, he was indifferent: “They’re not buying the artwork, they’re buying the apartment.” (It did finally go, after two years on the market.)
Stories like this abound. A loft with a bathtub in the middle of the living room; a co-op with a bright-orange tub. A townhouse with a bed that swung from the ceiling. A one-bedroom whose walls are painted with murals so over-the-top they inspired one reader of Curbed.com to comment “I just threw up in my mouth.” Seidenstock’s agent, LoHo Realty’s Jacob Goldman, says he’ll prep buyers so that the stripper setup doesn’t take them by surprise, but says he’ll try to turn the negative into a positive and embrace the gorilla. “I’m going to call it ‘Bada-Bing’ and maybe say [in the ads], ‘You can score with this one,’ ” he says. “I’ll be tasteful and fun with it and not worry about every prude out there.”