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Where can I find a Manhattan condo without the expensive extras?

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Want to live in a nice building, but don’t want to shell out more each month for an on-site gym or pool you'll never use? Guest broker Amy Herman of Halstead gives the penny pinchers some much needed advice in this week’s Buy Curious.

THE WISH LIST:

I’m in the market for a newish one-bedroom condo in Manhattan, but I don’t want to pay extra common charges every month for amenities that I don’t want. I’d like a doorman, but I’m not interested in a pool, gym or other fancy stuff. What are my options?

THE REALITY:

The average price for a one-bedroom condo in Manhattan is $922,000, but doorman condos can range from $650,000 to $1.4 million, depending on location and age. Midtown East and Midtown West will be cheaper than the Upper West Side, Upper East Side and certain downtown areas (such as the Flatiron District, Chelsea, Noho, Gramercy Park and the Village). North of 96th Street used to be a more reasonable option, but these days, some Harlem units are selling for around $900 to $1,100 a square foot, making them comparable to Midtown options.

Newer condos will almost always be more expensive than older ones except with a prime location off Central Park or a place with spectacular views.

But before we get into finding a no-frills condo, consider this:

  • It’s true that amenity-rich full-service buildings often have higher fees (which go to the upkeep of said amenities), but they don't necessarily translate to higher purchase prices. For example, many of the buildings built in the 1980s have state-of-the-art health clubs with pools, yoga rooms and saunas, but the average price per square foot is less than the brand-new boutique condos that have only a doorman and a small gym.
  • In many buildings, fitness center fees are actually separate from monthly common charges and an option for residents who want to use the facilities. 
  • Often buyers think they'll never use the on-site Pilates studio or the 50-foot lap pool--until they see them. That could happen to you, too.
  • Even if you don't use the gym or pool, these types of offerings are attractive to many buyers and could prove a positive when it comes time to sell your home.

Bottom line: it’s a better strategy to view everything in your budget and see which place feels the most like home.

That said, if you're still set on a building sans extras, you might want to focus your search on buildings constructed in the 1940s through 1960s. Many of these older structures have had doormen for years, but few of them have taken the time to add other amenities like gyms.

Smaller buildings could also work, since the annual cost of high-end amenities is so much steeper when split between fewer homeowners. Many newer condo buildings with fewer than 50 units don’t leave extra space for an amenity floor, while places with 20 units or less are often so bare bones that they have a virtual or part-time doorman.

If you’re set on a no-frills building:

  • Upper East Side one-bedroom/one-bathroom condo, $799,000: Recently renovated, this pet-friendly one-bedroom at 300 East 62nd Street at Second Avenue has a wall of closets, a wall of windows and a balcony with wood floors. The doorman building has a bike room, a laundry room and a live-in super. Monthly common charges are $689, while taxes are $668.
  • Upper East Side one-bedroom/one-bathroom condo, $799,000: This renovated pre-war condo at 111 East 88th Street between Park and Lexington avenues boasts a full-time doorman, and has an in-unit washer/dryer, high ceilings, hardwood floors and a separate dining area. Common charges are just $629 a month, while taxes are $425.

Want amenities after all?

  • Upper West Side one-bedroom/one-bathroom condo, $1.195 million: This Trump Place one-bedroom at 220 Riverside Boulevard between West 70th and West 71st Streets has an open kitchen, floor-to-ceiling windows, a marble bathroom and a brand-new washer/dryer. Building amenities include a 24-hour attended lobby, a health club with an indoor pool, a children’s playroom, a billiards room and an attached garage. However, monthlies are relatively low—common charges are $753 and taxes are $534.
  • Murray Hill one-bedroom/one-bathroom condo, $950,000: Although it’s in a full-service building (with a 24/7 doorman, concierge services, a fitness center, garden, lounge, roof deck and dog run), this south-facing condo at 225 East 34th Street between Second and Third avenues has low monthlies (common charges are $692; and taxes are $408), in part thanks to a tax abatement that doesn’t expire until 2019. The apartment has in-unit laundry, nine-foot ceilings and customized closets throughout.
  • Upper East Side one-bedroom/one-bathroom condo, $875,000: Recently redone, this 35th-floor one-bedroom at 301 East 79th Street between First and Second avenues offers a stainless steel kitchen with granite countertops, a spacious foyer, hardwood floors, crown and baseboard moldings, deep closets, built-in shelves and central heat and air. Building amenities include a doorman, a concierge, a landscaped roof deck, a fitness center and storage. Monthlies are on the low side—you’ll pay $518 for common charges and $599 for taxes.

Related posts:

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What 8 first-time buyers wish they had known

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7 questions to ask about the building before you buy an apartment there [sponsored]


Buy Curious is a weekly column in which NYC real estate brokers help buyers develop a realistic search strategy. Want some advice on your search? Send us your wish list 

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