Photo: David Blume stands outside his old apartment on 110th St.
By Wendy Ilene Friedman
Hold Out: David Blume in South Harlem
Although solid offers were few and far between, David Blume faithfully adhered to his Halstead Property broker Jill Sloane's advice. He did not budge from the asking price of $1,199,000 for his Central Park North apartment. "I'd always assure him it was going to happen," said Sloane.
The two-bedroom, two-bath unit was officially listed last October and sat on the market for months. The investment banker paid near $1 million for the space in 2005. He planned to live in the apartment for some time, but when a new development that he "liked better" sprouted up next door, he purchased a larger unit in the building at double the cost of the first. Now he was paying costs on both places and getting nervous.
"We weren't getting many offers," he said. However, Sloane kept reassuring him it was simply a matter of being patient and waiting for the right buyer. "She was confident it was priced right," he said. Even when they received an offer, Sloane advised Blume not to consider it. "It was a low-ball offer and Jill told me not to bother with a counter," he said. "She kept telling me, ‘You'll get your price.'"
"It was priced correctly," said Sloane. "It wasn't some crazy price."
Blume was thankful Sloane "never at any point showed softness or weakness."
"I felt adamant about not reducing the price," she said. Her belief helped him wait out the uncertain period. Especially since he felt the market was starting to soften, buyers were more selective and it was a developing area.
"I knew it would sell," said Sloane. "It was a matter of finding a buyer who understands. Not everything sells in two weeks."
Sloane researched what had sold and was selling nearby, and then assessed the price accordingly. She felt the unit had "stunning, drop-dead gorgeous views of Central Park" and that the asking price made "total sense" for the 1,177-square- foot apartment.
Based on her experience, she knew the market changes monthly and new buyers regularly appeared. "There are always new buyers," she said.
Sloane held open houses three out of the four weekends each month for at least one day, sometimes both Saturday and Sunday. They would average between five to 10 people each time. In the end, they gathered around 50-70 potential buyers in total.
They had one couple where one partner loved it and the other didn't. Then there was a single woman who wanted the apartment, but her parents weren't thrilled with the area and put a stop to those plans. "In those cases, not all the pieces came together," said Blume. "One party caused the other not to make an offer."
Eventually, the new owner, who discovered the space on a blog, came along and wanted exactly what Blume's apartment offered — Central Park views in the South Harlem neighborhood.
In the end, it was worth the wait. Patience was a virtue.
Blume walked away with a selling price $1,000 over asking.
Sell Out: Carole Gass and Stu Woods trade NYC for Norwalk, Conn.
As a proud child of the '60s, Carole Gass certainly doesn't "want to be considered a sellout." But when it came to her two-bedroom, one-bath apartment on W. 87th St. between West End Ave. and Riverside Drive, she couldn't resist.
Last year, Gass and her life partner, Stu Woods, sold the upper West Side apartment where they lived for the past 25 years. "We bought it when the building first converted to a co-op over 20 years ago," she said.
After a recent vacation in Arizona, the couple, now in their 60s, turned to one another and said, "Let's get some land." They decided it was a smart move to sell and leave the city. Within two weeks of their decision, they found a spot in Norwalk, Conn.
"It made sense," said Gass. "The timing was right. The market was high. We could cash out and not assume another mortgage."
Gass and Woods invited three real estate agents to view their seventh-floor apartment and recommend a listing price. The couple found that "the variance in prices they suggested was wild." They had one agent tell them to list their place in the low $600,000s, while another said a high of $1.2 million — but to expect the property to be on the market at least six-nine months. The duo ended up signing with an agent who came fully researched about the market and named a realistic selling price, which they upped a bit to $899,000. Within a few weeks on the market, Gass and Woods had two full asking-price offers.
"We listed it two weeks before Thanksgiving and had multiple offers," Gass said.
Once all was said and done, and the 15% flip tax was paid to the building ("I told them I want a plaque in my name," joked Gass), they now live in a 2,400-square-foot Connecticut home with an acre of land they purchased for $697,000.
"We're still getting adjusted," Gass said. "But I'm very happy with the move."
The former New Yorker enjoys looking out her window to see trees and a lawn — something she could not do from her Manhattan apartment. And the couple plan to get a puppy. "It's just a different life," she said. "Even the wind sounds different. You hear it before you feel it."
Gass also loves the community and the fact their new home is walking distance to "the best pizza shop, Chinese restaurant and country convenience store." She describes the neighborhood as a kind of L.A.-type of community. Many world-class jazz players and other notables live in the area. On the occasional weeknight, they are able to catch a jazz performance from famed musicians at a local spot. "But the shows are over by 10:30, so you can go home and still get to work the next morning," she said.
There are some cons. For one, Gass' 10-minute subway commute to work each day is now an hour by train. Her workday is abbreviated, which gives her less time to get things done. They have also dealt with two leaks on their flat-roof house and a stopped-up toilet. In the city, there was always a maintenance man or the super they could call.
Now they are on their own. Growing up in Maine, Gass was familiar with many things about home ownership. "There have definitely been some surprises," she says, alongside "a bigger price tag for home maintenance."
Apparently owning a home can be more labor-intensive, too. Since December, Gass recalls hauling at least 23 giant bags of leaves out to the trash. Then there's the car, which the couple rely on to get around. No public transportation in Norwalk. "But there's a parking lot everywhere," Gass said.
Nevertheless, Gass and Woods are glad for the change. "We thought if we were ever going to do this, it should be now," she said. "It was perfect luck."
Friday, April 04, 2008