The Market

How to sell your imperfect apartment

Teri Rogers Headshot - Floral
By Teri Karush Rogers  |
November 30, 2010 - 6:41AM

Is your place too far from the subway? Dark as a crypt? In a building with bed bugs? Cheer up. No apartment is perfect, especially in the eyes of a potential buyer.  And while you can't hide it, you can try to put it all in perspective.

"We can often move things along by reminding buyers that New York City real estate is by definition an exercise in compromise, and that every flaw, in theory at least, is reflected in a lower price," says Carolyn Zweben, a real estate broker with The Zweben Group at Prudential Douglas Elliman. "That's how you get past the fixation on the one or two things that are 'wrong' to an appreciation of everything that's right."

Here's how to address some less sell-worthy aspects of your apartment:

  • Too far from the subway:  If you have priced your apartment correctly, the price should make up in affordability what the apartment lacks in convenience.  And those three blocks are great exercise.
  • Higher-than-average monthly charges: Unusually high monthly charges are usually offset by a below-market asking price.   That means more apartment for less money up front, which can appeal especially to cash-poor buyers. Higher maintenance could also mean higher tax deductibility, which may soften the blow.
  • No light:  Because a comparable apartment with good light can trade for as much as 20-30 percent more, this is another opportunity for a buyer to get more apartment for less money.  Stage your apartment with an abundance of indoor light sources and consider bringing in a lighting consultant to suggest other ideas that you can pass along to buyers, like installing light boxes on the floor behind the furniture. Staining the floors a lighter shade also helps as well as putting lighter colors on the wall.
  • Bed bugs:   Bed bugs are a fact of life in New York City now, and if your co-op apartment or building has had a bed bug infestation within the past year, buyers now have a right know.    Make sure you and your broker are familiar with the steps that have been taken and the status of the infestation.  Offer to let the buyer inspect your apartment, and consider setting up an escrow account to offset future bed bug extermination costs if the apartment becomes infested within the next six months to a year. If you are aware of any bug issue in your building, alert the board so that the issue can be taken care of immediately. Most buyers understand these things happen in New York so the KEY is to know that that building is handling the issue asap.  As long as it is being taken care of properly, buyers are usually okay with it.
  • Great apartment, rundown building:  This fact should be reflected in the price.  Besides getting more apartment for less money, remind the buyers that they can run for the board and make some changes that will enhance the value of their investment along with their quality of life.
  • A kitchen/bath in dire need of renovation: Remind the buyers that if the kitchen or bath were perfect, it would be reflected in the price of the apartment.   Then give them a range of what the work might be expected to cost, and invite them to bring a contractor to check it out.

For more info or to hook up with one of the city's more awesome real estate teams, contact:

The Zweben Group at Prudential Douglas Elliman

"We Make It Happen!"

Teri Rogers Headshot - Floral

Teri Karush Rogers

Founder & Publisher

Founder and publisher Teri Karush Rogers launched Brick Underground in 2009. As a freelance journalist, she had previously covered New York City real estate for The New York Times. Teri has been featured as an expert on New York City residential real estate by The New York Times, New York Daily News, amNew York, NBC Nightly News, The Real Deal, Business Insider, the Huffington Post, and NY1 News, among others. Teri earned a BA in journalism and a law degree from New York University.

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