One way to speed up a sale: start name-dropping

Share this Article

In a city as old as New York, you'd be hard-pressed to find an apartment without a past. And brokers are capitalizing on these stories to market their properties, says the Daily News. An East 62nd Street townhouse, for instance, was once the home of publishing royalty Bennett and Phyllis Cerf, a fact plainly observed in the property's online listing: "It was home to the renowned literary couple Bennett and Phyllis Cerf, he founded Random House publishing and she edited the Dr. Seuss books and later married political luminary, former Mayor to New York, Robert Wagner. The Cerf/Wagner home was a social magnet for the cultural intelligentsia and the political elite. The bookshelves still hold literary treasures signed and snorted by authors such as Faulkner Mailer, Capote, and Didion."

It's not an uncommon practice. Real estate types have long tapped into their listings' histories to find a way to connect with buyers—like this duplex we featured last year that had a Katherine Hepburn connection—and owners and renters often appreciate the backstories. Sometimes they're even inspired by them. One writer, living in Washington Irving's former townhouse, told New York Magazine that her writer's group loved "the fact that we’re in Washington Irving’s old home. We joke around, we say, ‘What do you think? Should we get out the Ouija board and ask Washington Irving what he thinks? Washington Irving says your writing sucks'."

As for whether a good yarn can actually sell or rent a place, much depends on how strong the association is—Bennett Cerf living in a place is much more appealing than Bennett Cerf hanging out at a party there—and the state of the property. And the price, of course. Truman Capote's Brooklyn Heights manse sold at a then-record $12 million back in 2012. Then again, it had originally hit the market at $18 million. 


Curious about your townhouse's (maybe sordid) history? Call in a detective

Revamped website Address Report mines public data for the scoop on your next rental

The case for buying a possibly haunted Staten Island mansion

10 things to consider before buying a brownstone

House of horrors: what if your apartment has a terrible past?

Also Around the Web