The Search

5 features that make ground-floor apartments desirable—instead of dealbreakers

By Emily Myers | April 25, 2022 - 9:30AM 

This ground-floor one bedroom in Lincoln Square, 225 West 70th St. #B, has outdoor space and is offered for sale at $759,000.

Compass

Lots of New Yorkers actually prefer living in a ground-floor apartmentprovided it's the right one.  Choose wisely, and you'll avoid or mitigate the possible pitfalls of first-floor living that include lobby and street noise, privacy issues, less exposure to natural light, and potential pest and odor problems stemming from proximity to the basement. 

In addition to meeting your lifestyle needs, some ground-floor apartments have features that can actually make them more desirable—and luxurious—than units on higher floors. Read on for what makes a ground-floor apartment a winner.

1. You don't have to share an elevator

With the onset of the pandemic, avoiding the Petri dish known as an elevator became a huge perk of ground floor living. It can also be easier to move into a ground-floor apartment (especially in a walk-up), and they are an obvious choice if you’re elderly, have mobility or health issues,  or a dog that goes out several times a day.  

2. Ground floor apartments are up to 15% cheaper on average

There's no rule of thumb for how much you might save on a ground floor—it will depend on a variety of factors including light, location, and outdoor space. That said, typically a first-floor unit can be up to 15 percent cheaper than something comparable on a higher floor—or more if the apartment's less than ideal.

Pro Tip:

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"If it's really close to the lobby and facing the front, that could be 20 percent less," says Kobi Lahav, director of sales at Living New York. "If it's facing the back and quiet but there's no light, maybe 10 or 15 percent less," he says.

One real-life example from Lahav is the case of two identical apartments on the Upper West Side. The second-floor unit sold for $1.55 million, while the one in the back of the ground floor went for $1.35 million. If the ground-floor unit had been facing the front, Lahav says, the price may well have been knocked down further to $1.2 or $1.25 million. 

"The front is really a deal breaker for a lot of people," he says. "And if it's something where the window is directly facing a bus station or something, that's going to be a 25 percent discount."

3. They're kid-friendly

Being on the ground floor can also protect you from noise complaints if you have kids. Gerard Splendore, a broker at Coldwell Banker Warburg, knows first-hand the benefits of living on the ground floor. 

“Our apartment was located over the laundry and storage rooms. My two children, as well as the other two who lived next to us, could—within limits—make as much noise as they liked and jump and run without concern about bothering neighbors below,” he says.

Another advantage if you’re dealing with strollers, scooters, or bikes is that you can come and go fairly easily without squeezing into an elevator. This also applies if you are carrying mail and package deliveries. 

 

 Douglas Elliman

Douglas Elliman

The ground-floor duplex at 4 South Portland Ave., offered at $1,995,000, has a 1,320-square-foot yard.

4. Some have outdoor space 

One of the most common perks to offset the potential downfalls of a ground-floor apartment is the all-important backyard, a coveted amenity in a city with precious little outdoor space and something that’s been even more important during the pandemic. It’s also an handy if you have a dog. 

In some cases, landlords may renovate the backyard to make it more enticing (though if not, we've got tips that include an outdoor kitchen or low maintenance fake turf).

(Pro-tip: If you're hoping for outdoor space on a rental but don't want to overspend, you may be able to score a deal by looking in the colder months—when the nice weather hits, outside space is quickly added to everyone’s wish list.)

5. They may come with extra space—and storage

Particularly in apartments that are located on the ground floor of a townhouse or brownstone, there's a good chance you'll get access to the building's basement, which could mean extra storage and even your own laundry room

Pro Tip:

If you're not seeing enough places—ground floor or otherwise—for sale in your price range or target neighborhood—and/or you'd like to avoid a bidding war—consider expanding your search to "off-market" listings. NYC real estate brokerage The Agency uses technology to mine public records and identify owners who may be ready to sell, meaning you can meet and deal with owners before their homes hit the market. Click here to learn more

In a townhouse, an apartment on the ground floor often means you have your own private entrance under the stoop and gain a de facto mudroom via the common hallway that leads down to the basement. And in addition to the backyard, owners usually give tenants access to the basement for laundry and extra storage, which means more space overall.

Even in newer developments, you may see space below-grade (underground) configured as amenity space instead of a dank cellar. 

 Corcoran

Corcoran

This condo at 40 East End Ave., is offered at $9,945,990, and has a private street entrance as well as private outdoor space.

 

—Earlier versions of this article contained reporting and writing by Virginia K. Smith and Nikki Mascali.

 

Emily Myers

Senior Writer/Podcast Producer

Emily Myers is a senior writer, podcast host, and producer at Brick Underground. She studied journalism at the University of the Arts, London, and graduated with a MA Honors degree in English Literature from the University of Edinburgh.

Brick Underground articles occasionally include the expertise of, or information about, advertising partners when relevant to the story. We will never promote an advertiser's product without making the relationship clear to our readers.
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