The Market

Scratch your inner townhouse masochist at this auction

By A. Ready  | October 13, 2010 - 5:14PM

Let's get this straight: We do not have a townhouse fantasy. We lack the cash, have no desire to scrub our stoop of every excretion known to man, NYU student or animal, and have seen one too many of our townhouse-dwelling friends show up on crutches. Also, security is a bitch, and life is too short to spend half of it on Brownstoner comparing fireplace trim or waiting for a handyman/electrician/plumber/roofer/etc to fix a chronically ill piece of real estate.

On the other hand, a bargain is a bargain.

Following a bitter family dispute, a recent court order has forced this 25-foot-wide townhouse at 3 East 10th Street into auction set for October 21st.  Though the townhouse was recently listed for sale at $9.5m (close to the $10m sought for  a renovated townhouse nearby), the opening bid is set at $3.5 million.  Broker-blogger Malcolm Carter, who attended the third of five inspections (the final two are scheduled for Oct. 17 and Oct. 19), says interest seems quite high.

However, the future buyer will need vision, patience, a good lawyer and the proceeds of a small oil well  to optimize the potential of this 8,825 square foot former mansion, which includes 12 wood-burning fireplaces, along with one rent-stabilized and one rent-controlled apartment.  Carter notes: “The building has been unfortunately carved up, now configured as a 12-unit rental that includes four medical offices, four studios and four one-bedroom apartments” Further, the condition of the spaces ranges from poor (mostly) to good (for just one of the units).

Despite its obvious flaws, Carter says he saw 25-30 prospective buyers at the inspection, and noted that “virtually all” of them seemed to have serious interest. Due to the rent regulated apartments, someone interested in returning the building to its former single-family glory could be in for a long wait.  Far more feasible would be combining a number of adjacent units into an owner-occupied apartment, and generating income from the remainder. Quite the project, from any perspective, but one that quite a few prospective purchasers seem to think might be worth the effort. (ServiceYouCanTrust)
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