Buy Curious

Buy Curious: Is it possible to find a 3-bedroom in a kid-friendly neighborhood for under $1.3 million?

By Leah Hochbaum Rosner  | November 21, 2013 - 10:45AM

In this week’s Buy Curious, guest broker Whitney Osentoski of City Connections assists a growing family looking to expand into a 3-bedroom apartment in a child-friendly neighborhood in NYC.


“My partner and I have one child and we're hoping to have another in the next couple of years. We’re already starting to feel cramped in our (small) 2-bedroom apartment.

We'd love to upgrade to a 3-bedroom in a kid-friendly neighborhood like the Upper West Side, Upper East Side, Harlem or Washington Heights. Our budget is $1.3 million. Is that doable?”


To answer your question, yes, it is definitely possible to find a 3-bedroom in one of the four neighborhoods you mentioned for under $1.3 million. You may find that you are happier getting a place further north where you can concentrate on savings rather than pushing the budget. Or, if you’d rather live in prime Upper East Side or Upper West Side you may need to make some adjustments to your budget. I have therefore included a few listings that fall above what you wanted to pay.

Seeing apartments and neighborhoods will help you narrow things down. Do you want to be further downtown? Do you find that the East Side or West Side resonate more with you? Are you looking for the most possible square footage your budget affords you? You really need to get to know the four areas you’re looking in to find out what works best for you. There is also that inexplicable, emotional “this is it” moment that many buyers experience when they enter the space they are meant to occupy. 

Harlem is very hot right now. Units in the South Harlem area are regularly going above asking price and open houses are garnering large crowds. I also feel that Harlem is likely to see the most appreciation in the years to come as it is continually attracting new businesses, new restaurants and is convenient both to Morningside Park and Central Park, as well as transportation. 

The other area that is likely to see a boost in price is the Upper East Side. The addition of the Second Avenue subway line is going to increase transportation convenience, so prospective customers will no longer be turned off by images of long walks to and from the subway.

Remember, you are in the driver’s seat here. Despite the fact that it’s a seller’s market out there, you still need to decide what is most important to you and your family.

Here’s a Harlem listing that might work for you:

  • Harlem 3-bedroom/2-bathroom condo $1,139,000: This 3-bedroom at 1890 Adam Clayton Powell Blvd. between 114th and 115th Sts. is a stunning condo conversion project in the heart of South Harlem. This listing offers almost everything on your wish list. The building is conveniently located close to transportation, fabulous grocery stores, parks and restaurants. The unit is a complete gut renovation with beautiful finishes throughout. The layout is perfect for you with three bedrooms, two full baths and a loft-like open-concept living/dining areas and kitchen—perfect for a growing family. With price per square foot at only $676, this property has wonderful investment potential while offering you the neighborhood and building amenities you are looking for and staying under budget.

If you find that you’d rather put down roots in Washington Heights, you should check out these places:

  • Washington Heights 3-bedroom/2-bathroom co-op, $1,100,000:  This unit at 125 Cabrini Blvd. between 181st and 184th Sts. in Hudson Heights is just a short walk to parks, transportation, restaurants and groceries. You are also conveniently located close to the Henry Hudson and the GW Bridge—great for those family trips out of the city. At 1,650 square feet, this home offers the square footage a growing family needs. The layout of this unit is fabulous with some separation between the master and children’s bedrooms. The large open-concept living/dining areas and kitchen (with walk-in pantry) are perfect for entertaining and family time. The only downside to this listing is that the second and third bedrooms are a bit on the narrow side, which might be fine at the moment, but will prove to be less than ideal when the children get older. 
  • Washington Heights 3-bedroom/2-bathroom co-op, $819,000: Located at 790 Riverside between 156th and 157th, this apartment is a pre-war treasure close to trains, parks and the highway. This unit—which boasts gorgeous floors and moldings—offers a proper dining room, a spacious living room and three large bedrooms that will work for your kids now and later. There is some updating needed here, but at a low price of $819,000 you will have room in your budget to make any changes that you may decide you need. This apartment has views of the GW Bridge and is only $496 per square foot.

If your family would prefer to move on up to the East Side, here are some listings that you might like:

  • Upper East Side 3-bedroom/2-bathroom co-op, $1,500,000: This 3-bedroom/2-bathroom co-op at 108 E. 86th St. between Lex and Park Aves. is located in prime Upper East Side. While this unit is over-budget and has a hefty monthly maintenance of $4,117, the apartment is spacious with two large bedrooms and a small third bedroom—which is not ideal long-term. The character and the layout of this unit are fabulous with a gallery entrance and spacious dining room. This property is all about location, location, location.
  • Upper East Side 3-bedroom/2-bathroom co-op, $1,195,000: Going further east to Yorkville you will see a dramatic drop in price and maintenance for this 3-bedroom/2-bathroom co-op at 515 E. 89th St. between York and East End Aves. This apartment is renovated and move-in ready with a larger third bedroom, making it a much more feasible long-term option. This unit also offers you the bonus of an office on top of the three bedrooms, as well as a foyer. It’s also $105,000 under budget and in a wonderful Upper East Side location.

If you find that the West Side feels more like home, one of these places could be perfect for you:

  • Clinton 3-bedroom/2-bathroom co-op, $1,295,000: This West Side fixer-upper at 345 W. 58th St. between Broadway and Ninth Ave. comes in right on budget but needs a lot of work. The square footage is smaller than our uptown listings, but the location is incredible. You will be walking distance to Midtown West, the Upper West Side, Central Park, Whole Foods, restaurants, shopping and movie theaters galore. 
  • Upper West Side 3-bedroom/2-bathroom co-op, $1,610,000: This listing at 150 W. 95th St. between Amsterdam and Columbus is a complete gut renovation with a chef’s kitchen, gorgeous hardwoods and a beautiful mix of pre-war detail and modern touches. You are seconds from Central Park, shops, restaurants and bakeries. The price is steep but the maintenance is only $1,673/month. This boutique co-op is definitely worth a look if the numbers make sense for you and your family.

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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