Buy Curious

When the most important amenity is the pool

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Love swimming laps, but unsure if you can afford a place with an on-site pool? In this week’s Buy Curious, guest broker Dominic Paolillo of Compass helps you find a home where you can start your day with the breaststroke.


I’d love a two-bedroom in a building with a pool, but my absolute maximum price is $1.5 million. Do these apartments exist? And where?


With nearly every new development project in New York City adding a pool to its list of building amenities, it’s no surprise that many buyers at all price levels are expecting, or at least hoping for, the same when they're on the hunt for a new place. However, the price-per-square-foot in most of those shiny new buildings puts two-bedrooms way over the $1.5 million mark, says Paolillo.

While new construction condos are probably out, you can still find what you're looking for if you just know where to look. If you want to stay in Manhattan, try an Upper East Side co-op or a postwar condo since there tends to be more inventory here, says Paolillo. “If you look at a map of Manhattan you will understand that by sheer volume of space, the Upper East Side” has the most room for more buildings, he says. “That’s why it remains the best value for buyers.”

There are also options on the Upper West Side, Midtown East (including Kips Bay) and Battery Park City, says Paolillo. “These neighborhoods used to be considered quite out of the way at one point in history," he says, "but city developers began looking at each of them as demand for housing grew.” 

If you’re willing to leave the borough, there are some deals—sometimes even in new developments—at this price point in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, he adds. “Williamsburg was affected by the housing crisis in 2009, so much development was halted or turned into rentals,” says Paolillo. That is starting to turn around, he notes, but if you look in some of the larger buildings with more apartments in them, you still have a shot.

Buildings built in the 1970s through the 1990s were often amenity-heavy in order to entice people to move to less desirable neighborhoods (think Yorkville) that were more difficult to reach, transportation-wise, or were more industrial and less residential. (These days, amenities have become standard, and aren’t necessarily a luring technique, notes Paolillo. “It’s actually fascinating that the amenity spaces in most buildings are under-utilized by most owners.” But back then, they were definitely a draw.)

Many of the apartments in these buildings still have good value because there’s simply more inventory in these neighborhoods. “With more inventory, there’s more competition from sellers, which equates to more negotiability for buyers,” he notes.  

In addition, “condition is a major factor,” says Paolillo, noting that many apartments built from the 1970s to 1990s are in need of renovation. “As more of these apartments turn over and are renovated the values will go up,” he says. For the moment, you can score a building with a pool, but you’ll be getting an older apartment and have to deal with whatever issues come up with that.

With a maximum price point of $1.5 million for a two-bedroom, you’ll have to decide what’s most important to you. Is space paramount to all else? If so, then you might need to choose a place that’s in need of a little TLC (probably in the form of a new kitchen or bathrooms). 

Is a renovated apartment a must? “If so, then chances are you will need to be ok with a smaller space,” he says, meaning that you might have to be satisfied with an oversized one-bedroom with an alcove that can be converted to achieve the second bedroom. In other words, not a real two-bedroom.

So yes, a two-bedroom in a building with a pool for under $1.5 million can be done in Manhattan. Just be realistic about your expectations, says Paolillo, and all should go swimmingly.

Ready to look for a place with a pool?

Upper East Side two-bedroom/two-bath co-op, $1,395,000: This unit at 370 East 76th Street, between First and Second Avenues, is located in the Newport East, a full-service doorman building with bike storage, a garage and a rooftop seasonal pool. The apartment boasts hardwood floors and lots of closets.

Battery Park City two-bedroom/two-bath condo, $1,395,000: This apartment, at 380 Rector Place between South End Avenue and Battery Park Esplanade, has split bedrooms and a home office, as well as a gourmet kitchen. Building amenities include a roof deck, a package room, common storage and a health club with a pool.

Harlem two-bedroom/two-bath condo, $1,275,000: This unit at 1485 Fifth Avenue between West 119th and West 120th streets has a state-of-the-art kitchen with granite countertops, a wet bar, in-unit laundry, central a/c and heating, and custom closets. Building amenities include a 24-hour attended lobby, a residents’ lounge, a children’s playroom and a heated indoor lap pool.

Midtown East two-bedroom/two-bath co-op, $1,200,000: Located in the Plaza 400 at 400 East 56th Street, between Sutton Place and First Avenue, this apartment features a wall of windows and a terrace. Perks include a garage, a children’s playroom, a roof deck garden, a health club and an outdoor pool. 

Williamsburg two-bedroom/two-bath condo, $1,450,000: This unit at 34 North 7th Street near Kent Avenue has a gourmet kitchen, a washer-dryer, central air and lots of closets. Extras in the condo building known as the Edge include two fitness centers, an indoor pool with retractable glass walls, a spa, a full-size indoor basketball court and a virtual golf simulator.


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Buy Curious: A 3-Bedroom in a Building With a Pool For Under $2 Million—Can It Be Done?

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