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For a while now, the Upper East Side—the non-Fifth Avenue to Park Avenue to corridor, anyway—has been touted as more affordable than its neighbor to the west. The New York Times has written about how the area offers relative bargains to first-time New Yorkers, while AM New York deemed the West 80s a fantasy reserved for one percenters.
Data site NeighborhoodX analyzed prices on the Upper West Side (which it defines as Central Park West to the Hudson River, between 59th and 96th streets) and found that it is indeed one of the city's costlier corners. What seems to be changing, though, is that it's no longer much pricier than other nearby neighborhoods.
NeighborhoodX identified the ten most affordable apartments in the area, and found that the price range—from $439,000 to $550,000—was quite similar to that of the Upper East Side's cheapest homes, which range from $399,000 to $539,000.
This doesn't necessarily mean, though, that the Upper West Side is getting cheaper. Instead, says NeighborhoodX founder Constantine Valhouli, "the city is becoming more and more affluent, and home prices in Manhattan are putting it out of the reach of more people."
That said, Valhouli notes that there are still pockets of affordability, and this list comprises some appealing options at relatively reasonable price points. In other parts of uptown, like Morningside and Hamilton Heights, Valhouli points out, the cheapest units on the market often come with some baggage. They might be HDFCs, for instance, with strict income caps for buyers, or have high maintenance fees because the property recently bought out their ground leases.
The Upper West and East Sides, by contrast, are much larger neighborhoods, so there are more options at lower price points. One might expect the cheaper homes here to come with other major cons, like poor access to public transportation, but this isn't the case across the board. On the Upper West Side in particular, you're never all that far from the subway, even when you're close to the river. (On the Upper East Side, on the other hand, living on York Avenue can mean quite a trek to the nearst station.)
Valhouli characterizes the UWS market as healthy and heterogenous. "In a large neighborhood like the Upper West Side, there are simply many more properties for sale at a given time," he says. "With that in mind, the ten most affordable market-rate properties are just ten out of several hundred. As a result, they represent the more affordable segment of a larger market, which is why the numbers here and on the Upper East Side are lower in comparison to some equally desirable but smaller markets."
And in most cases, the lower prices do mean smaller sizes. "Square footage was conspicuously absent for the majority of the listings," Valhouli says, which can make it tougher to determine how much of a deal you're really getting.
The most affordable unit currently on the market in the UWS, a one-bedroom co-op at 320 West 86th Street, is certainly petite, with a tiny kitchenette that won't make it easy to do much cooking. The floorplan reveals a living room, bedroom, and bathroom in a railroad configuration, and little in the way of storage space. This may be best for buyers who have already given their possessions the full Marie Kondo treatment—and who find the $439,000 asking price fair.
In the middle of the list, this one-bedroom co-op at 49 West 96th Street is a smallish 657 square feet, though you get a little more kitchen, here with some striking blue cabinetry. Multiple closets in the living and bedroom mean more storage space than the previous listing, though note that you'll be on the first floor, which could mean less natural light. There's also a live-in super, plus laundry in the building; the asking price is $545,000.
At the top of the list, asking $559,000, this one-bedroom co-op at 165 West 66th Street is right by Lincoln Center, and it allows pied-a-terres, so this may be a good part-time spot for theater lovers. The living room is spacious, and the bedroom includes a walk-in closet; you'll also find a renovated kitchen and bathroom with upscale fixtures. Still, the space could hardly be called huge, suggesting that your dollar still doesn't stretch super far here.
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