UPPER WEST SIDE
Last summer, Vanity Fair editor Graydon Carter seemed to be playing catch-up with then- New Yorker editor Tina Brown when he bought a $2.5 million, 3,700-square-foot house on Bank Street in Greenwich Village. (Ms. Brown and her husband Harold Evans, funded by S.I. Newhouse Jr., had just secured a $3.7 million maisonette on East 57th Street.) The apartment Mr. Carter et famille vacated had served as his Condé Nast starter home: no view, but, hey, it was in the Dakota. Now that little jewel can be yours for just $2.85 million.
Here’s what you get: three bedrooms, two bathrooms, three working fireplaces, 14-foot ceilings and a view of the building’s gothic courtyard-it’s almost collegiate. And don’t worry: Mr. Carter, a widely admired Anglophile and “Royal watcher,” has taken all his Brit bric-a-brac with him. After buying the apartment for $1.275 million in May 1992, he had the place done up in mad upper-class clutter: the walls papered with, as a British House & Garden spread noted, “monochrome prints of Paris showing its development over eight centuries; framed old American postcards … large numbers of menus from lunches and dinners thrown for visiting celebrities …” Not to mention an antelope head, two large model sailboats and a bust of Napoleon. All headed downtown. Unfortunately, he’s also taking his “entire run of bound volumes of Punch from 1841 to 1939.”
31 West 76th Street
Five-story, 5,200-square-foot prewar town house.
Asking: $2.295 million. Selling: $2.2 million.
Time on the market: six months.
THIS LANDLORD’S UNLISTED. “We used to have specialists in each area, but people go back and forth, uptown and downtown, and so the brokers have to, too,” said Marilyn Kaye, president of Prudential M.L.B. Kaye International Realty, of her brokerage’s recent weeklong, all-over-town, eight-house selling binge. It was kicked off with the closing negotiations of this house, which consists of a four-bedroom owner’s duplex and three rentals-one per floor-upstairs. Despite having been cut up, the house, near Central Park West, still has its original gas fireplaces and mantels, and ornate, medieval-style woodwork, reminiscent of buildings like the Dakota. The owners get the garden and a deck off the parlor floor-where there are 12-foot ceilings-from which to survey it. Bucking a trend at the high end of gutting these houses and returning them to single-family use, these buyers are going to become landlords to their upstairs neighbors. No need to grimace. “You can contract out the management,” said Ms. Kaye, who does so on her own town house, “which these people are probably going to do.” Either way, the extra income will help them afford the place, important in a town house market where “the low end [used to be] in the $1 million range, and now the lowest we can show is $1.5 million.” Broker: Prudential/M.L.B. Kaye International Realty.
UPPER EAST SIDE
875 Park Avenue
Two-bed, two-bath, 2,400-square-foot prewar co-op.
Asking: $1.325 million. Selling: $1.35 million.
Charges: $2,226; 46 percent tax-deductible.
Time on the market: three weeks.
CALL IN THE PARALEGALS! The married attorneys who bought this apartment, near 78th Street, will have to figure out how to renovate their new home from the ground up and not end up in front of Judge Judy or in couples therapy. They have what you might call a high-caliber fixer-upper on their hands: The apartment hasn’t been updated in 30 years and it’s been vacant for the last year as an estate went about trying to sell it. Suffice it to say, they’re starting with the kitchens and the bathrooms. Leave the bedroom intact! Broker: Corcoran Group (Michael Misisco).
620 Park Avenue
Three-bed, four-bath prewar co-op.
Asking: $4.5 million.
THAT’S AN EXPENSIVE APARTMENT, LEW! Remember Lew Lehrman? The supply-side Republican who came close to derailing Mario Cuomo’s long-winded gubernatorial bid in 1982-and losing by less than one percent of the vote? Mr. Lehrman was the wealthiest man to run for that office since Nelson Rockefeller, thanks to Rite Aid Corporation, the drugstore chain in which the Lehrman clan held a mighty claim. But it may have been Mr. Lehrman’s big bucks that undid him: Who can forget Mr. Cuomo interrupting Mr. Lehrman in the middle of a televised debate to point to the serious piece of jewelry on Mr. Lehrman’s wrist and quip, “That’s a very expensive watch, Lew.” Mr. Cuomo made his point and ended up in Albany. Mr. Lehrman went back to his Fifth Avenue co-op, his 13-acre compound in Greenwich, Conn., and his 400-acre horse farm outside Harrisburg, Pa. He later moved to this apartment, which sprawls over an entire floor of 620 Park Avenue, a discreetly affluent building at 65th Street. The apartment has 10 rooms, including three bedrooms and a library. After Mr. Lehrman lost the election, he devoted his time to conservative causes, funding a pro-Ronald Reagan group called Citizens for America. He also got some attention for abandoning Judaism and converting to Catholicism in 1985. Ten years later, he put this apartment on the market, but then withdrew it. Last October, it went back on and, real estate sources say, has finally found a buyer. No word on whether Mr. Lehrman threw in the watch.
151 East 83rd Street
Two-bed, two-bath, 1,100-square-foot prewar co-op.
Asking: $375,000. Selling: $380,000.
Maintenance: $1,083; 48 percent tax-deductible.
Time on the market: one month.
THE ONLY CASE WHEN DESPERATE IS ATTRACTIVE. When you’re selling an apartment these days, you never have to go crawling back on your hands and knees. Jilted buyers will take you back every time. The sellers on this apartment, near Lexington Avenue, started out with an asking price just shy of $400,000, but the first offer fell through. The price was lowered to $375,000 and a couple jumped on the apartment, thinking it was a great deal. Along came a bid of $395,000 and the couple was left at the altar. But when the competing offer became too much of a hassle, the buyers got the place back-and just to add insult to injury, the sellers even asked for just a few extra thousand. Broker: Corcoran (Joanne Greene).
127 East 81st Street
Four-bed, four-bath, 4,000-square-foot town house.
Asking: $3.5 million. Selling: $3.43 million.
Time on the market: one week.
NEIGHBORHOOD TAP LESSONS ON THE TERRACE. Both financier Ahmet Ertegun and choreographer Jerome Robbins call this pricy block between Park and Lexington avenues home. Other than the desirable location, it was the impeccable condition of the turn-of-the-century property that drew in the buyers. When the sellers, a young family, took residence there in 1995, they fiddled with the interior a little, but the bulk of the renovations had already occurred. The new owners won’t have to lift a hammer. There’s a marble foyer at the main entrance and original wainscoting in the second-floor dining room. The master bedroom, located on the third floor, has a private terrace overlooking the backyard garden. Broker: Halstead Property Company (Nancy Dubin); Corcoran.
166 East 63rd Street
One-bed, one-bath, 1,050-square-foot postwar condo.
Asking: $450,000. Selling: $410,000.
Charges: $628. Taxes: $580.
Time on the market: one year.
A MAN AND HIS TAN. Over the years, broker Robert Watt has had a hand in selling some of the most fabled apartments in some of the most storied prewar buildings. But that doesn’t mean he’s a snob; he’s perfectly willing to sell an understated postwar apartment here and there. Like this three-and-a-half-room condo in a white brick building near Third Avenue (that is, not one of those 1980′s glass slivers with the fake-plaster walls). The apartment is on one of the building’s top floors, where the street wall cuts back, allowing for a 900-square-foot terrace-nearly as big as the apartment itself. The single lawyer who signed up for the place is all ready to roll out the patio furniture and work on his tan. Lucky for him, he got this one and not one of the several less sunny apartments in the building that went on the market shortly after his … and for higher prices. Broker: Alice F. Mason Ltd. (Robert Watt); Goodstein Equities (Rosalind Gartner).
21 East 22nd Street
One-bath, 1,000-square-foot prewar co-op loft.
Asking: $350,000. Selling: $345,000.
Maintenance: $930; 50 percent tax-deductible.
Time on the market: one month.
DEAL’S OFF WHEN MOM COMES TO TOWN. “It has one really fabulous bathroom,” said broker Gil Neary of this loft, in a doorman building set in the luxury restaurant zone between Park Avenue and Broadway. Just how fabulous? “Four-by-eight slabs of solid white marble, white marble mosaic floors and nickel-plated fixtures. Simple, simple, simple, but fabulous, fabulous, fabulous.” The rest of the loft was pretty fabulous too: The owner, said Mr. Neary, had “a bed, two white couches and an inlaid table” and a “cocktail kitchen-that’s what we called it. It used to be open, but he enclosed it and painted it black and gold. No cabinets, just glass shelves.” Mr. Neary’s company was asked to sell the apartment for $330,000, and had two offers the first week, which quickly descended into a testy bidding war with lots of haranguing and tears. The woman who won that bidding war had offered more than the asking price and was all set to close when her mother, a bank president in the Midwest, paid a surprise visit. (After all, she was helping buy the place.) Banker-mom didn’t like that the apartment was in the back of the building; the seller had covered the big windows with rice paper shades to block the limited view. So Mom said, No deal. The other bidder had meanwhile bought elsewhere, so the seller raised the price and put it back on the market. It sat for a few weeks; people who loved the impeccable design didn’t love the lack of bedroom walls. But finally, said Mr. Neary, a woman came along who “got it,” and she bought the loft. It helps that, as a designer, she’ll know what to do with it. One trusts she’ll leave the fabulous bathroom be. Broker: D.G. Neary Realty Ltd.
55 Poplar Street
Two-bed, 1.5-bath, 1,200-square-foot prewar condo.
Asking: $199,000. Selling: $199,000.
Charges: $544. Taxes: $397.
Time on the market: three weeks.
55 Poplar Street
One-bed, one-bath, 800-square-foot prewar condo.
Asking: $212,000. Selling: $202,000.
Charges: $389. Taxes: $288.
Time on the market: two weeks.
THE OUT-OF-TOWNERS MEET THE SINGLE GUY. A husband and wife who work for Westinghouse Electric and the Girl Scouts, respectively, moved to town from Santa Fe, N.M., and did everything they could to make sure they didn’t get taken in the big city. They rented in Brooklyn Heights for a year while they cased the neighborhood for good buys. When they zeroed in on a two-bedroom condo at 55 Poplar Street, between Henry and Hicks streets, they didn’t squander time: They offered the price the seller was asking, for fear of losing the deal. Meanwhile, they were getting a new downstairs neighbor who recently purchased a one-bedroom loft in the same building from the same broker. He’s an Egyptian guy who lived in Park Slope with roommates until he saved up enough to buy his own place. Apparently, he picked Brooklyn Heights because the singles scene is better. Broker: William B. May Real Estate (Elizabeth Celano).