Halloween Saturday was gray and warm, and the Upper West Side, the typically no-fun familial zone, was a twitter with tiny trick-or-treaters and pre-marathon tourists.
Instructed by friends who are actually in the housing market, I picked up a New York Times with hopes of perusing the real estate listings. After an extensive and frustrating search through the entire paper, I realized the listings are only printed on Sunday and so resorted begrudgingly to the Internet, where there also appeared to be only Sunday open houses.
I was desperate. In frantic hope of help and human contact I sought out the local Corcoran office. Between trick-or-treating interruptions, the broker told me that barely anyone did Saturday open houses anymore, but that he would print out the listings for whatever he had in the neighborhood. I thanked him profusely and left, holding the door open as a pirate came swashbuckling in with his sister, a Go-Go Girl, eager to collect the Tootsie rolls Corcoran was offering as Halloween treats.
The list of local open houses was short and primarily based in one building on 93rd Street between Columbus and Amsterdam avenues. The recently converted pre-war elevator building at 134 West 93rd Street was quietly nestled on a tree-lined street a few doors east of the well-reputed Public School 333, formerly Joan of Arc junior high, an additional perk for prospective parental buyers.
THE BUILDING IS DOORMAN-less but boasts a 24-hour security camera near the new mahogany entry doors and inside the ornate marble-floored lobby. Recently converted from apartments to condos, the building is still less than 50 percent occupied. Time Equities sales agent Berdine Abler manned the multi-unit open house from a desk set up in 5D. In the fifth-floor unit, I joined an homely Russian couple in their late 30s and a no-nonsense middle-aged female broker previewing apartments for clients. The broker, dressed all in black—despite witch-like associations, I guessed it was not a Halloween-conscious outfit—did most of the questioning and I listened in the wings.
“We had 34 inquiries last week, everything was gone! Today we’ve had five inquiries plus two brokers who are previewing for clients. It’s mostly couples who are starting families, you know. You think it’s busy today! You should come tomorrow! Sundays are very busy, we have to have two brokers here.”
Ms. Abler noted that the apartment went on the market for close to a million but has since dropped to $880,000.