Return of the $200,000 Manhattan Apartment

Discussion in 'Wall St. News' started by ByLoSellHi, Apr 11, 2009.


    Making a Comeback: $200,000 Studios

    305 East 83rd Street, left, is on the market for $269,000. 160 East 91st Street, right, is for sale for $199,000.

    Published: April 10, 2009

    seekers, nostalgists and ascetics, take heart: the $200,000 apartment has returned to Manhattan.

    It is something of a homecoming. The turbocharged market of recent years left the island all but walled off from middle-class buyers and sent younger New Yorkers scurrying to the outer boroughs. But as prices fall sharply and sellers hope to attract reluctant buyers, numbers that seem a relic of a bygone era have re-emerged.

    With all the chatter about bargains, the time seemed ripe to explore just how low one could go in one of the most expensive real estate markets in the world. A bit of hunting turned up 10 studio apartments in prime Manhattan neighborhoods. The most expensive: $269,000. The cheapest: $199,000.

    To answer the obvious question: yes, these places are small. How small? Combine the square footage of all 10 apartments and you’ll fill less than half of the Rockefeller Center skating rink.

    To tour these Lilliputian abodes is to find the feats of pragmatism that are a hallmark of Manhattan living. Murphy beds abound. One owner, perplexed by a tiny kitchen, decided to place the full-size refrigerator a few feet away — in what had been a coat closet. Another enterprising woman tucked her home office into a side closet, storing clothes and boxes on shelves above a folding table that doubled as a desk.

    But by no means is this a collection of caves. While a handful fit the dark-and-dreary model, these co-op studios offer a surprisingly generous array of perks. Only one is a walk-up. Many are found in doorman elevator buildings with gyms, laundry rooms and roof decks. Beamed ceilings, track lighting and parquet floors are commonplace. Dishwashers, a luxury item by New York standards, pop up every now and again. In one building, the owner is ferried to the apartment by an elevator operator.

    And breathe easy: the location is not Yorkville or bust. At these prices, you’d be excused for imagining a box perched on the West Side Highway — or at the very least, a treacherous trek to the subway. Instead, you’ll find properties in Carnegie Hill; Avenue B in the East Village; Tudor City; and the East 50s, 70s and 80s.

    Brokers and sellers expressed mild shock — and in some cases outright chagrin — that prime Manhattan property can now be had for a fraction of an A.I.G. bonus.

    “When was the last time I saw these prices?” said Dan Danielli, a broker at Halstead Property. “Not in a long time. Let’s put it that way.”

    A few caveats are in order. In compiling this list, time shares and rent-stabilized units already occupied by tenants were skipped over. And because the idea was to seek affordable apartments in traditionally unaffordable areas, neighborhoods like Inwood, Hudson Heights and South Harlem were left out.

    It seemed redundant to include properties in areas where New Yorkers have enjoyed deals for years. In the self-contained world of New York real estate, a $200,000 studio may not be notable on East 105th Street, but move 20 blocks south and it’s a steal.

    Take a 325-square-foot studio on the first floor of 333 East 53rd Street, an elegant co-op building near Sutton Place, that affluent boulevard of old New York charm. The asking price is $229,000.

    “We started at $259,000, and we did not get any calls,” said Mr. Danielli, the listing broker. Like many brokers, he said his phone started ringing nonstop after he chopped the price below the $250,000 mark.

    The apartment, which costs an additional $527 a month in maintenance, has a renovated kitchen with a dishwasher, a half-refrigerator and just enough floor space to open the oven door. (This is more than could be said for some of the other studios on the list.) A tiny entrance foyer keeps the unit from feeling like a box, and the building has a 24-hour doorman.

    Is there a downside? For $229,000 in Manhattan, you better believe it. The main living room is a hair under 200 square feet: enough space to fit a queen-size bed, a small futon sofa and little else. The windows peer out on a brick wall and a deck that belongs to a different unit.

    When interested buyers call Mr. Danielli, he gives it to them straight. “I tell them, indeed, it is a first-floor apartment; it is in back of the building,” he said. “There is no view, and it’s rather low natural light.”

    The building allows pieds-à-terre, and parents can buy for their children, a common thread among inexpensive studios. But while the price might seem attractive to a first-time buyer, the co-op board has stringent financial requirements.

    Marilynn K. Yee/The New York Times
    $265,000 155 East 49th Street.

    “The co-op doesn’t want you spending your bottom dollar on the down payment,” Mr. Danielli said. “They want some money left over afterward.”

    The apartment’s current owner said she loved the place. “I have parties here for 20 people,” Janina Dyrkacz said with a laugh. A feng shui consultant, Ms. Dyrkacz is seeking to save money by moving after seven years in the building.

    A lower price tag and a looser board can be found in the cheapest unit on the list: a 250-square-foot studio at 160 East 91st Street, priced at $199,000.

    Housed in a handsome elevator co-op building with a renovated lobby and part-time doorman, the unit is steps from Lexington Avenue and just around the corner from the 92nd Street Y. But there are shortcomings.

    There is almost no natural light. Two windows look onto a brick wall. The “kitchen” is simply a corner of the room where a handful of appliances have been placed.

    “It’s very cute,” said the broker, Janet Finkel of Luxury Habitat, “wonderful wood-strip floors and high ceilings.” As she spoke, a reporter leaned back against the sink, which promptly moved.

    Ms. Finkel originally priced the unit at $269,000, the price of a similar unit in the building that sold in June 2007. (The maintenance costs are $475 a month.) Inquiries doubled after she dropped the price below the $200,000 mark.

    Despite the flaws, potential buyers could be living on a tree-lined Upper East Side block for less than the price of a similar rental, with the added benefit of building equity.

    If the Upper East Side is a bit staid for your tastes, consider a first-floor unit at 99 Avenue B, near East Seventh Street. It’s about the same size as Ms. Finkel’s listing, and gets about the same amount of light. In exchange for the location — in the heart of the East Village, near Tompkins Square Park — you’ll pay $249,000.

    “We’ve taken into consideration some of the downfalls of the apartment, which may be the light and the size,” said the listing agent, Shereen Koshnoodi of Pari Passu Realty.

    Marilynn K. Yee/The New York Times
    $249,000 235 West 102nd Street.

    With a narrow entrance gallery and a single hall closet, the tenant must improvise storage space. Two windows look out on a dark brick wall and a fire escape. But the bathroom is nicely sized and the apartment has custom lighting, even if the kitchen is small and open to the main room.

    The owner shared the studio with a girlfriend for two years and worked from home. “In 250 square feet — and they’re still together!” Ms. Koshnoodi said. “So that proves a lot.”

    The apartment is the lowest-priced studio below 42nd Street, according to

    “I’ve always been in Manhattan on the upswing, when it was always so expensive,” Ms. Koshnoodi said. “It’s interesting to see it become more affordable, and I hope it is more affordable to the regular people in the city.”

    Indeed, buyers in this market often say they can’t believe their luck. Sellers often say the same, though for a different reason. On the other side of a cheap apartment is a seller who may think he or she is getting a raw deal.

    “You ask them, ‘What’s a price you would ideally love, and what’s a price that you’d be happy with?’ ” said Christopher James, a broker at Citi Habitats, who is selling a Yorkville studio at 417 East 90th Street for $254,000.

    Marilynn K. Yee/The New York Times
    $225,000 30 East 95th Street.

    “Six months ago,” Mr. James said, the owner could have asked for $290,000. “It’s a substantial adjustment.” Mr. James persuaded his seller to offer $100 off the monthly maintenance fee of $749 for the first three years.

    Richard Geiringer, a broker at Prudential Douglas Elliman, had to deal with an even bigger price shift. He recently took over the listing for a fourth-floor walk-up studio at 308 East 73rd Street off Second Avenue. The unit is about 350 square feet with a dishwasher, open views, custom lighting and a renovated kitchen (although the stainless steel refrigerator is housed in a closet).

    In the fall of 2007, the owner was asking $439,000. That dropped to $349,000 a year ago. The price is now $260,000. “Frankly, the price didn’t change enough,” Mr. Geiringer said. “It’s hard to convince owners that the market has changed dramatically.”

    Mr. James of Citi Habitats was one of the few brokers who acknowledged that the re-emergence of bargain prices in Manhattan had a silver lining.

    “I think it’s refreshing,” he said. “A lot more people are coming through our door. You’re helping more people do what they wanted to do for years and can now afford, finally, to do so.”
  2. Can I raise a family living there? :eek:
  3. Hmm. Those places can be financed for less than my monthly payment on my lease.

    I still won't buy 'em. NYC is going to become a horrible, crime-infested place in under 2 years. I'm looking to skip first chance I get.
  4. Tomorrow is gang bangers day in Times Square. If the best the city can do is say "watch out" we might as well have inflatable decoy swat units.

    How does anyone suppose the police to protect us during any wide spread civil unrest if the police can't do anything about assorted gangs?

    We don't want any unnecessary force or police brutality lawsuits, or worse yet, cops ending up in prison for putting a cap in da ass of some gangsta.

    Meanwhile, have a happy meal at your own risk.
  5. gang banger's day? what are you talking about?
  6. April 11, 2009

    A violent Easter ritual has Times Square businesses beefing up security as they brace for a surge in post-Auto Show gang activity this weekend.

    Easter Sunday -- which has become known as "Gang Initiation Day" because of the parade of hoods wearing Bloods colors who swarm the area -- has scared tourists and store owners alike.

    "They come in, they throw chairs, they throw cups of ice at each other. It's a disaster," said John Andersen, 32, a manager at the 24-hour McDonald's on West 42nd Street.

    "This year, we've got eight security guards working. That's twice what we normally have."

    In 2006, the same McDonald's was one of several advised by cops to close "for safety reasons" as more than 200 gang members strutted through the neighborhood. Three stabbings were reported.

    "It's the same nonsense every year," said a patrol cop. "It's been going on a long time."

    Cops have also beefed up patrols in the area in anticipation of large groups of youths passing through the area tomorrow for the New York International Auto Show at the Javits Center.

    Workers there have been told to be on guard.

    "Security have told us that this has become a tradition, and has told us to be aware of our environment," a Toyota employee said yesterday.

    Many regulars at the Crossroads of the World intend to stay well away tomorrow.

    "I hang out in Times Square a lot," said Ali Wittner, 15, of Washington Heights. "I am not coming close on Sunday."
  7. Wow.

    I didn't even know. I was gonna go buy a coffee machine or something and pass through times sq. tomorrow. Guess I won't go.
  8. I just heard about this nonsense, as I don't spend a lot of time in the Manhattan these days.

    But what a waste of a good crisis, as they say.

    I tell you what. I will personally pay for 10 body bags, if they promise to fill them with these gang scum. Yuo can even stuff 2 or more in one bag, I'm easy.

    I'm a cheap bastard but this deal I wouldn't pass up.

    PS There are countries where even the hint of such activities would be instant death. Are we civilized or just stupid?


    Senior, the sausages are running large this season.