Small Spaces

A living room shower isn't the biggest hitch to selling this Soho studio

By Leigh Kamping-Carder  | March 25, 2014 - 11:59AM

We were quite taken with TreeHugger founder Graham Hill's fabulous folding apartment—a 420-square-foot studio with panels that form bunk beds, a 10-person table, a home office, and more. But we were a little less enthused about the $995,000 price tag.

The foldable studio is one of two units available at 150 Sullivan

That is, until listings website Point2 Homes drew our attention to another studio for sale in the same Soho building—300 square feet for $299,000. A bargain, right? Not necessarily.

First, this top-floor studio has its own design quirks: a deconstructed bathroom, with a shower in the living room, a toilet in a separate closet, and a bathroom sink between the two. It's “definitely a gem in the rough,” quips broker Mark Neuwirth, who's listing the unit with Debby Klein, his colleague at Coldwell Banker Bellmarc.

The top-floor studio, seen in a current listing photo

A recent floor plan for the top-floor studio

But check out the difference a cowhide rug and a different angle make, via this 2008 listing photo for the same apartment. (And let's all remember the power of listing photos, for good or ill.)

A photo of the top-floor studio from a previous listing (Photo credit: StreetEasy)

Take a look at how benign that bathroom looks on the floorplans above and below: 

A floor plan of the top-floor studio from a previous listing (Photo credit: StreetEasy)

While it's true that the layout doesn't help, as Neuwirth acknowledges, there's actually a peskier problem (that a straightforward renovation can't fix) keeping buyers at bay: this six-story co-op building is friendly to investors.

While that's great for buyers looking to pick up a pied-a-terre or an investment property, it's not great for the average buyer who needs to get a mortgage. That's because banks are reluctant to lend at buildings that don't have the majority of their units occupied by homeowners. At 150 Sullivan Street, about 60 percent of the 29 units are occupied by renters, Neuwirth estimates.

As a result, the price is about 30 percent cheaper than similar properties, and the owner is only entertaining cash offers, he says.

That said, if you can get the cash together, and you're in it for the long haul, you could see a major price appreciation if the building shifts and more owners live in the units, allowing buyers to get mortgages, he adds.

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