Kenneth D. Laub (Still) Wants $35 M. For His House

The red-brick townhouse at 163 East 64th Street is overpriced. It is very overpriced. And its owner doesn’t care.

“If I’m overpriced then so be it,” Kenneth D. Laub, a commercial real estate broker who has done deals with Bear Stearns and Hess Oil, told The Observer this month. “If someone feels that the house is worth what I think it is worth, then they’ll buy it. And if not, then they won’t. And it’s not the end of the world one way or another.”

But Mr. Laub’s sense of what the house is worth has changed over time. Five years ago it was on the market for $23 million with two brokers from Prudential Douglas Elliman. “It was overpriced then,” one of those agents, Alexandra Tawfik, said this month. She asked a reporter for the current price—which is $35 million.

“Oh my God,” she sighed, “that’s why it’s not selling.”

On the bright side, floor plans on Mr. Laub’s Web site for the 20-foot-wide, 15-room, eight-fireplace, four-floor townhouse shows a bar in between the dining room and music room/living room, a gymnasium on the ground floor, plus a wine cellar in the basement, where there’s a closet marked as a telephone room.

But will someone pay $35 million for the place? “It does not seem to be realistic when you consider that Douglas Elliman just sold 11 East 74th Street for $18,125,000, and it’s the same size, same width, and off of Fifth Avenue,” the veteran townhouse broker George van der Ploeg said this week. “Why would someone pay $35 million for 163 East 64th Street when it’s not nearly renovated and it’s not off Fifth Avenue? And not only is it not off Fifth Avenue, it’s four blocks away.” (Mr. Laub’s house is between Lexington and Third avenues.)

As it happens, that $18 million house was listed for $35 million before five price cuts. “It shows that certain people are desperate to sell. They need the money, that’s what it shows,” Mr. Laub said. “Just because they reduced the price doesn’t mean someone else will. Markets will go down, markets will go back.”

Why doesn’t Mr. Laub, like almost everyone else, simply lower his price so he can sell? “The answer is very simple: I have no need to.”

Why doesn’t he take it off the market until the market rebounds? “What is the value,” he said, “of taking it off the market?”

“It’s a nice house, and it’s a very sellable house,” Ms. Tawfik offered. “Sellers sometimes are not realistic about prices, and they think their house is worth a certain amount. And if it’s not, it just sits and sits and sits.”

 

mabelson@observer.com

Kenneth D. Laub (Still) Wants $35 M. For His House