If you’re in the market to buy, this is your time. Prices have come down appreciably and there’s much more selection. If you see something that’s priced well and works for you, don’t wait — put in a bid. Assuming that there will be more and more great apartments coming on the market at ever-decreasing asking prices, or waiting for a markdown, is a form of complacency. Once the herd mentality kicks in again, so will the competition. Recently, there have been more examples of new listings going to contract quite quickly, some at full asking price. It’s time to get organized and be focused. If you’re planning to take advantage of the low interest rates, be sure to refresh your eligibility, so you can move ahead efficiently when that dream property crosses your path.
Manhattan House was a ground-breaking new building when it was built in 1950, and for the past year or so (and not without some bumps) has been undergoing a complete stem-to-stern rehab and conversion from rental to snappy condominium. The building’s original design has held up very well over the years, and it is interesting vintage modern space, indoors and out. Designed by the venerable firm Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, the project’s principal architect was Gordon Bunshaft (he later bequeathed his own travertine-clad modernist house on Georgica Pond to the Museum of Modern Art). Period photographs of the Manhattan House lobby show it stylishly furnished with iconic Mies van der Rohe Barcelona Chairs and Pavilion Tables, all part of today’s vernacular in new developments. Manhattan House enjoys full credit for starting the craze for white brick apartment buildings in Manhattan, (910 Fifth Avenue, built in 1920, even “updated” their limestone façade to white brick in the 1960’s.) The “white brick post war” species, so often distained, may soon enjoy a renaissance in popularity. With Manhattan House leading the way, can Imperial House, with its impeccably-maintained Raymond Loewy lobby, be far behind ?
Superior presentation and proper pricing is always important in marketing a property, but it is especially true today. Now, it’s just annoying to view an overpriced apartment that looks like Grey Gardens. Interestingly, Elizabeth Williamson recently reported in The Wall Street Journal that there’s a trend in California to hire “faux homeowners” with “stylish stuff” to “replicate a person who could afford the house” and “remove the price-depressing stigma of vacancy.” Not a bad a idea – sure beats hoards of old Gristedes bags and a refectory table filled with neglected plants. On the other hand, it’s great to see a perfect 8-room apartment, expertly renovated, and well-priced, like Apartment 3C at 1185 Park Avenue, which just came on the market.
There’s an impressive assortment of competitively-priced seven and eight-room prewar apartments available for sale in Carnegie Hill. Recently, these had been scarce as hen’s teeth, objects of bidding wars, and certainly it was impossible to contemplate a prewar 7 for under $3 million. Now, it’s entirely possible. In fact, there are several prewar 8-room apartments on Park Avenue (in various states of repair) with an asking price of under 3 million – further challenging the current price of the “Classic 7” – some of which are priced below 2.5 million. The Carnegie Hill retail landscape is changing too – old standbys such as Bolton’s have papered up their windows (just when it might have become a chic shop) as well as retro Feldman’s Housewares at 87th St. Petak’s has also vacated. However, despite the turnover in storefronts, the neighborhood retains its charm and there’s plenty of life in the streets. And Yura on Madison, the Swifty’s of the stroller set, is always jammed.