Ladies & Money
Let's Not Make a Deal
It used to be that first came love, then came marriage, then came a three-bedroom house and a baby carriage. But women these days! They’re skipping the whole love, marriage, baby carriage business and just going straight to home ownership.
In news that is somewhat noteworthy but not at all surprising, WYNC reports that single women have emerged as homebuyers, second only to married couples. Although they still earn less than men, their share of the home-buying market is twice that of single men. Working women may not be so interested in keeping house anymore, but they’re very much interested in keeping houses.
Penthouse A/B at 129 West 20th Street appears to be a place where nearly anyone would want to live. Flicking through the multitude of listing photos from the many brokerages and brokers who have tried to sell the 4,500-square foot Chelsea loft, one sees an apartment that seems to embody the dream of downtown luxury living: five bedrooms, four mosaic-tiled baths and two expansive terraces pinwheeling off the home’s showy heart: a sun-flooded double-height living room/dining room with 22-foot-high ceilings, two wood-burning fireplaces and an open staircase of wood and steel. The only problem is that it’s a dream no one wants to buy.
The home, which made its market debut at $8 million in April 2006, in the midst of massive renovation intended to set buyers’ hearts aflutter, has lingered there ever since. A handful of renters have come and gone, but none have wanted to sign the deed. Not for $8.5 million (the highest ask), not for $6.45 million (the lowest and most recent ask) and not for anything in between. It’s now listed for rent at $25,000 a month.
When The Observer visited 129 West 20th Street on a recent afternoon, we found an apartment that was many of the things it has claimed to be over the years: “glamorous, dramatic and refined,” just as the first Corcoran listing had promised, as well as “cinematic in scale and scope” like the Prudential Douglas Elliman listing bragged a few years later. (It had, in fact, starred alongside Keira Knightly and Eva Mendes in Last Night and Mariah Carey in an AT&T commercial.)
After watching the world’s wealthiest snap up one trophy property after the next—a $52.5 million co-op at 740 Park here, a $90 million penthouse at One57 there—it can be easy to lose sight of the fact that not all segments of the Manhattan real estate market has been drowning in a deluge of cash.
Thank goodness for the sobering arrival of second quarter market reports. A slew of reports released today show that while the uber-rich were out hunting for ever-more exquisite homes during these last few months, the merely well-off (buying in Manhattan is not, after all, for the masses) engaged in more sedate apartment shopping.