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I miss “Downton Abbey.” Tell me more about Highclere Castle!

Downton Abbey is filmed at Highclere Castle in the U.K. — did you know the estate that it sits on is larger than Central Park? I love the house, and wrote an entire article for Time.com about it. Six Fun Facts About Downton Abbey’s Highclere Castle.

Posted 8 years, 6 months ago at 2:04 pm.

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What are New York’s “Good Buildings?”

In 1985, Tom Wolfe wrote an Esquire article where he talked about 42 New York buildings as “Good Buildings.” For your curiosity, the list is below.

Now since I was too lazy to go back and find the original article, this list is via Stephen Gaines’ The Sky’s the Limit: Passion and Property in Manhattan. If you are reading this post you’ve probably already read this book, but if not, buy it here now.

Of course, the question arises “in a downturn, what holds its value?” In the early ’90s, for example, the Gold Coast of Greenwich Village held up well, but currently it feels like celebrities would rather like in 15 Central Park West than down there. So we’ll have to see; the future will come to us.

But do bear in mind that some of New York’s best (or at least most hyperexpensive) buildings are not on this list — and some of those that were at the time aren’t. No Dakota, no Forty Fifth Avenue.

1 Beekman Place

10 Gracie Square

1 East End Avenue

120 EEA

550 Park Avenue

555 Park

635 Park

640 Park

720 Park

730 Park

740 Park

765-75 Park

770 Park

778 Park

812 Park

810 Fifth Avenue

820 Fifth

825 Fifth

834 Fifth

953 Fifth

960 Fifth

998 Fifth

1020 Fifth

1030 Fifth

1040 Fifth

River House — 435 East 52nd Street

4 East 66th Street

131-5 East 66th

2 East 70th Street

4 East 72nd Street

19 East 72nd

36 East 72nd

117 East 72nd

160 East 72nd

50 East 77th Street

21 East 79th Street

39 East 79th

66 East 79th

79 East 79th

25 Sutton Place North

One Sutton Place South

Posted 11 years, 10 months ago at 11:58 am.

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How does a new condo price a bathroom?

From a story Lauren Elkies did for The Real Deal. The magazine’s June 2008 issue showcases HJ Development’s 211 East 51st Street, #4D, a 505-square foot condo, and the devleoper was nice enough to price items, which don’t include labor:

Vanity (Polished chrome with a 3/4-inch Bianco Dolomiti marble slab, and custom-made wall-hung medicine cabinet): $4,000

Shower door (Frameless glass with polished chrome towel bar): $3,000

Wall tile, accent (Fireclay 3 by 5s, gray): $2,000

Wall tile, shower (White crackle ceramic tile): $1,600

Floor tile (Marble mosaic tile, Bianco Dolomiti): $1,300

Shower curb (Bianco Dolomiti marble slab, looks about 5″ high): $450

Showerhead (Kohler rain in polished chrome): $400

Sink (Kohler Kathryn undercounter): $350

Toilet (Toto): $330

Sink faucet and handles (Kohler stillness in polished chrome): $280

Robe hook (Vola in polished chrome): $200

Toilet paper holder (Vola in polished chrome): $175

Posted 12 years, 1 month ago at 12:49 pm.

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What does downtown New York look like when there’s a ticker tape parade?

A view of a young Giants fan near the corner of Broadway and Barclay — where the Financial District starts to blend into Tribeca.

Littlest Giants Fan

The white stuff on the ground is confetti, not snow.

Posted 12 years, 6 months ago at 7:19 pm.

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What’s the deal with Heath Ledger’s apartment? What on earth could cost $23,000 a month?

Since the New York Post has already released the address, there’s not much harm in describing the inside of 421 Broome — a keyed elevator opens into a 4,400-square-foot loft with 2.5 baths and a big open kitchen.421 Broome (Heath Ledger apartment building) interior

Loft rentals — my second deal at DG Neary was a five-figure Tribeca rental so I know whereof I speak — are generally priced off ceiling height, kitchens, windows and location.

421 Broome (Heath Ledger apartment building) floorplanIf anything this loft was a little skimpy on outdoor space. But what made the apartment spectacular was its location — one of the best in New York — and its authentic detailing. Not only was there exposed brick, there were also the original cast-iron Corinthian columns from the original 19th-century building.

It was a shame that this star, who moved so many of us on screen, didn’t get longer to enjoy it.


Posted 12 years, 6 months ago at 7:26 pm.

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What is Open House New York?

Open House New York is a weekend of architecture-related events and tours throughout the five boroughs.

Five years ago, the first OHNY drew 45,000 people. This year’s weekend is scheduled for October 5-7.

for a schedule of the events, go to Open House New York

Posted 12 years, 10 months ago at 4:02 pm.

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A $3 Million “real house” just went on sale in Second Life. How can I use the info to learn to stage my real house?

It’s a Coldwell Banker publicity stunt, but a good one — they’re marketing a $3MM home in the virtual world of Second Life.

Ok, hah, hah. But actually, this is a very cool thing for home sellers. By noting how one of the country’s top real estate agencies changes the way a house looks, we can learn all sorts of great tips about staging.

You can go to this ABC news link to take a look at both sets of pictures.

Notable changes between the “real” home and the virtual representation include:

Picture 1:

* a stricter sense of entry (in reality, the entryway has an open space between two columns, while on SL there’s a solid wall).

* less landscaping — in SL the front shrubbery is much shorter, in order to show off the house; one shrub has been moved to the edge of the home, and one tree has been eliminated entirely. If you are selling your real home, consider pruning back trees that obscure the house’s features, especially the front windows. Also, even if you don’t want to spend a lot of money right before you sell your home, realize that every $1 you spend on landscaping will net you $3 back when you sell.

Picture 2:

* there is a fire in the fireplace in the SL house. This makes the home seem warm and inviting. If you’re selling your home in the winter, you might want to light a Duraflame log to create the same effect. If you’re selling your home in the summer, use a mass of candleholders and candles of different heights to give that same sense of potential light, even if they’re not aflame.

* in the SL house, the fireplace surround and the columns are a darker grey. You could do this in RL using paint colors to create a greater sense of depth and drama in the room. Note that the current trend is not to use crazy contrast-y colors, such as red accents in a white room, but to use slightly darker tints in one neutral family. I love grays, but I should note that in New York City on the high-end, different shades of cream and beige are much more popular.

Picture 3 is the Realtor avatar, which I’ll comment on in a minute.

Pictures 4 and 5 are the kitchen. First, let’s just note that it’s important that the kitchen takes up two whole photos in the ABC News Story. It’s proof of the Realtor maxim, “Kitchens sell houses” — when you’re staging, if you can concentrate on only two things, the exterior and the kitchen are the places to start.

Second, notice how warm the cabinetry in the SL house is. First, the cabinetry in the real house is inexplicably three colors — pine, white, and some sort of dark mahogany. In SL, that’s been streamlined into one color, a cherry, which balances out the shiny cool of the stainless steel refrigerator. Finally, the countertop in the SL house is quite prominent, one giant slab of grey stone.

You might not want to spend $100K renovating your kitchen — and yes, it could cost that — but you can get a real bang for your buck by updating your countertop. The best approximation of what’s in the SL pictures is a grey quartz composite or, on the high end, a pietra del Cardoso stone.

Pictures 6 and 7:

This is every Realtor’s dream — an ability to focus on an open door, inviting the buyer in. Obviously, you can’t change the buyer’s focus in real life, but if you are taking photos of your house for a listing you might want to try a shot lot like this just as you’re walking in.Also, do you notice how much brighter the SL pictures are than the Realtor’s photos of the home? It’s an argument for sellers getting a professional photographer, who will use expensive lights when he or she does the shoot; also, as you get your home ready to sell, think about places where spending a few hundred dollars to put in a light fixture can really brighten a room.

For more tips on selling your house — and some wacky stories of my first year in real estate, check out my new book, “Diary of a Real Estate Rookie”– the pick of the week from Newsweek earlier this summer!


Alison Rogers

author, Diary of a Real Estate Rookie


Posted 13 years ago at 6:27 am.

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$225,000 for a parking space; WTF?

click here for the New York Times story about the eight-person long waiting list for the five $225,000 parking spots at 246 West 17th.

As the story points out (though somewhat obliquely) much of what’s behind Manhattan’s high parking space prices is speculation — buyers often plan to rent them out or re-sell them.

Posted 13 years, 1 month ago at 5:49 pm.

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They say there’s stuff to do in the Financial District, but is there a wine bar downtown?

Actually, the Time Out New York readers’ choice award went to Bin No. 220, a Front Street wine bar that fought off stiff competition from Red Hook (tini) and NoHo (Centovini).

Heavy on Italian wines, but you can get Veuve Cliquot.

220 Front Street, between Beekman St. and Peck Slip.

Posted 13 years, 2 months ago at 2:36 pm.

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My neighbor is having an open house, is it okay for me to go? I’m just curious to see it.

It is 100% human nature to want to see how our neighbors live. You can get decorating ideas (maybe they thought up something cool to do with that little ledge in the kitchen); see how potential buyers react to the idea of being in your area (in case you’re thinking of selling someday) and also just rock your nosiness a little.

It is also expected behavior for an open house. Chances are that the realtor is probably excited to see you, because you are a potential customer for her down the road — and she can point potential buyers to you and get you to say nice things about the building or the neighborhood.

So go ahead, don’t be nervous. Chances are, your neighbors won’t even be there. If they are, it’s fine to use the line “I love it here so much, I thought maybe I’d recommend your place to a friend who is thinking of moving to the area!”

Posted 13 years, 2 months ago at 2:15 pm.

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