The Goldilocks Listings: When $28 M. Post-Lehman Seems Just Right

Following the progression of price cuts is like watching ambition slowly fade away. Last October, the personal injury lawyer Simon H. Forgette listed his townhouse at 333 East 65th Street for $15 million, even though it’s between First and Second avenue. He had paid $2,925,000 for it two years earlier. “That’s what he feels the property is worth,” the listing broker said at the time. Then the cuts came: The listings Web site Streeteasy shows that the price was $7.5 million in June; there was another fall a month later; and this month the tag was cut to $5.95 million.

“I’m looking for a profit, but not a lot of money,” said Mr. Forgette, who added that the original $15 million tag was an error, and that he wasn’t aware of the $7.5 million asking price. He declined to clarify.

Then there are the bigger townhouses. The century-old 120 East 70th (pictured), which records show belongs to Lois and Georges de Ménil, the collector Dominique de Ménil’s son, is now asking $28 million with Sotheby’s. That’s a relatively petite step down from its old $33 million asking price with Brown Harris Stevens’ Paula Del Nunzio. On Tuesday, Ms. Del Nunzio, who has five current listings above $25 million, explained that sellers will sometimes purposefully ask more than they know they can get, aware that buyers will want to haggle. “In other cases,” she said, “the seller’s absolutely in the clouds, and nothing’s going to change them.”

“If I’m overpriced, then so be it,” Kenneth D. Laub, who is asking $35 million for his Upper East Side townhouse, told The Observer in June. “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.”