How to Negotiate Your Rent 

Apr 19, 2016

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Don’t overlook condos. Investors have been snapping up condominiums to rent out amid the development boom, creating opportunities for high-end renters. A big concentration of investors can mean a surge in rentals when the building starts to close, said Marc Schaeffer, a real estate agent at Kleier Residential. “You have to catch the timing right,” said Mr. Schaeffer, who noticed a rise in rental listings at Carnegie Park, an amenity-laden condominium at Third and East 94th Street, and was able to get clients a $150-a-month discount on a two-year lease for a two-bedroom. Instead of paying $5,800 a month, with an expected increase of 2 percent to 5 percent the following year, his clients are paying $5,650 a month. “We accomplished this by pitching our offer to similar listings in the same building and letting the owners’ broker know we were submitting the same offer to other apartments,” he said. “This worked because we were dealing with three different competing landlords.”

Nine Rooms in the San Remo for $20.75 Million 

May 10, 2015

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A nine-room apartment on the 16th floor of the venerable San Remo that was owned for more than three decades by Robert W. Wilson, a hedge fund pioneer and philanthropist, sold for $20,750,000 and was the most expensive sale of the week, according to city records.

The corner residence, No. 16C, in the south tower of the landmark 1930 building at 145 Central Park West at 74th Street, was sold by the estate of Mr. Wilson, who in late December 2013 jumped to his death from a rear window in the apartment that he had occupied since 1978. He was 87 years old and had suffered a stroke six months earlier that had affected his mobility.

The buyer of the co-op, which has a monthly maintenance of $8,770, was identified as the Savrola Residence Trust and was represented by Sherry Matays of the Corcoran Group. The unit sold for $4.25 million below the $25 million initial asking price when it entered the market in April 2014; its most recent list price was $21,495,000.

“The proceeds of the sale are going to a number of charities,” said the listing broker, Laurel Rosenbluth of Kleier Residential. She said the buyer was a local family who planned to restore the unit to its original glory.

The apartment, with three bedrooms and three and a half baths in addition to a library, has around 4,600 square feet of space, along with a wraparound terrace and 70 feet of direct Central Park frontage. It was described in the listing as “a one-of-a-kind gem” with most of the original Emery Roth-designed architectural details preserved. Among these flourishes: arched doorways, plaster walls with bas-relief insets and elaborate moldings. The unit also has a private elevator landing and reception gallery.

Mr. Wilson was the founding partner in 1969 of a hedge fund firm, Wilson & Associates. After retiring in 1986, he spent the rest of his life donating most of his accumulated wealth to charities, including conservation and cultural organizations.

Last week’s runner-up, at $12,500,000, according to city records, was the sale of an 1893 Renaissance Revival townhouse at 326 West 89th Street that had been gut-renovated throughout and modernized. The monthly taxes for the six-bedroom five-bath house, which stands five stories high and includes a roof terrace and a finished basement for a total of nearly 7,000 square feet of livable interior space, are $5,189.

Roberto Cabrera and Andres Perea-Garzon of Town Residential represented the seller, identified in documents as Matthew Klein. Rachel Altschuler of Douglas Elliman Real Estate brought the buyer, who was shielded by the limited liability company Doggie Pie. “They are local and very familiar with the neighborhood,” Mr. Perea-Garzon said of the purchaser.

Mr. Perea-Garzon said the home started out as a single residence and was broken into single room occupancy units in the 1980s. The seller never lived in the house, but “put about $5 million into the renovations” over two and a half years, Mr. Cabrera said.

Big Ticket includes closed sales from the previous week, ending Wednesday.

The Private-School Sales Bump on the Upper East Side 

Feb 17, 2015

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While the bulk of private schools are on the East Side, there are also some high-profile schools on the Upper West Side, including the Trinity School and the Collegiate School. Michele Kleier, the president of Kleier Residential, has a client who has always lived on the East Side but is finding herself looking west because her children may be going to school there. “She has been on the East Side forever, but now she is considering the West Side,” Ms. Kleier said. “But she wants something in good condition, so if she hates it, she can sell right away and move back.”

The Financial District Gains Momentum 

Aug 08, 2014

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Anyone who enjoys a good comeback tale might find a lot to like in the financial district.

Loss framed the narrative of the neighborhood not long ago, as Wall Street banks relocated to Midtown, and far more profoundly, when thousands of lives were taken by terrorists on Sept. 11, 2001. But this waterfront neighborhood at Manhattan’s tip has renewed itself with vigor.

By some definitions, the financial district takes up the southern tip of Manhattan south of Chambers Street and the Brooklyn Bridge, including the South Street Seaport and, for the purposes of this story, Battery Park City. But the area does not always give off the vibe of a settled place.

Some blocks, and even whole streets, have for years been dusty, clanging and occasionally barricaded works-in-progress. Now, to the relief of residents, some areas are completely open to foot traffic for the first time in years. Much of the fencing at the National September 11 Memorial & Museum came down in May.

Still, construction zones dominate, including once-empty offices being converted to apartments, like 70 Pine Street, along with newer high-rises, like W New York Downtown and 5 Beekman, two hotel-condo buildings. To the east, the Seaport is partitioned with green fences as the Howard Hughes Corporation redevelops retail sections. And to the west, a chain-link fence hung with a massive white sign directing tourists to the Statue of Liberty rings a section of Battery Park, which is gaining bike paths.
The waterfront is being reinvented at the Seaport. People relax on the grass on Pier 15 against a backdrop of office towers. Credit Hiroko Masuike/The New York Times

On a recent afternoon, laborers in work boots and orange T-shirts spilled onto Vesey Street from the almost-completed One World Trade Center, joining a throng of commuters in the process.

Yet neither the commotion, nor the security barriers by the stock exchange that some consider a nuisance seem to be a turnoff. Residents, many of them families, are streaming downtown, even if the neighborhood no longer offers the discount it once did. This winter, prices edged above the average for all of Manhattan for the first time.

The area has about 43,000 residents, according to census figures compiled by Andrew A. Beveridge, a sociology professor at Queens College, which is almost double the population in 2000, when it was 23,000.

In 1970, in the ghost-town era, the population barely reached 700, with some census tracts devoid of a single resident, data show.

And though financial giants like JPMorgan Chase and Barclays bank may have pulled out in recent decades, other companies, like Condé Nast, GroupM and Revlon, are poised to replace them.

Today, there are more lights in windows, children on swings and beer gardens in plazas to infuse the old curved, off-the-numbered-grid streets with new energy.

“It’s where Manhattan began, and it’s now where Manhattan is being reborn,” said Scott Schramm, a fashion executive who since 2012 has lived at 15 Broad Street, a bank-headquarters-turned-condo across from the New York Stock Exchange. Mr. Schramm, who lived in TriBeCa for more than a decade, added, “It’s very exciting.”


What is clear is that there are a whole lot more places for people to live than just a few years ago, and more than a dozen apartment buildings are on the way.

Rentals still dominate, as they did in the late 1970s, when the first sustained wave of contemporary market-rate housing arrived. Around that time, most of the action was at the southern end of Battery Park City, the planned community that added its last two towers, the rentals Liberty Green and Liberty Luxe, in 2011. But in the 1990s, apartments started going in east of Broadway, where developers, spurred by property-tax benefits, snapped up office buildings with an eye to turning them residential.

Then, after Sept. 11, 2001, the residential vacancy rate soared past 30 percent. So the government dangled incentives, in the form of $1.6 billion in federal Liberty Bonds, which paved the way for rental buildings like 90 West Street, 90 Washington Street and 2 Gold Street.

Now, Rose Associates, a major city landlord that has had a light footprint in the area — its sole property is Le Rivage, a former office building at 21 West Street that was converted in the late 1990s, and is now upgrading kitchens and baths — will soon change that fact.

Next spring, Rose expects to cut the ribbon on 70 Pine Street, the Art Deco former headquarters of the American International Group, which is to house 644 apartments, mostly studios and one- and two-bedrooms. In the process, the 952-foot-high spaceship-shaped tower will become one of the city’s tallest residential buildings.

Co-developed with DTH Capital, the $500 million project will also feature 132 extended-stay hotel suites, as well as 35,000 square feet of retail space across the lower levels, said Adam R. Rose, a co-president of Rose Associates.

He is most excited, though, about 70 Pine’s window-lined top-floor observatory, which along with several lower floors, will be given over to a “gastro pub.” He said he’ll name the operator when the deal is done.

“What the financial district really still needs is a destination restaurant that New Yorkers will go to regularly,” he said, echoing a common complaint.

The district is already eating better. This spring Hudson Eats, a high-end food court at the revamped Brookfield Place, opened at the edge of Battery Park City. Past the 1988 Winter Garden and its palm trees, patrons dig into barbecue, sushi and burgers on high marble counters.

In a few months, Hudson Eats will be joined downstairs by Le District, which will be like “a French Eataly,” said Melissa Coley, a spokeswoman for Brookfield Property Partners, its owner, referring to the well-known Italian restaurant and market complex on Madison Square Park.

Le District will be managed by Harry and Peter Poulakakos, the father-son team that owns many financial district restaurants, including several on popular Stone Street.

It also has been reported on dining sites like Eater.com and the blog Grub Street that Tom Colicchio and Keith McNally are opening restaurants in the hotel at 5 Beekman.

Though the shopping can be mixed — near the Hermès boutique on Broad Street, jewelry stores offer diamonds at 60 percent off — the area seems poised to be more consistently upscale going forward. The Brookfield complex, after an extensive renovation, is installing shops like Ferragamo, Michael Kors and Paul Smith, which will open their doors next spring.

Also, Westfield Group, a global mall owner, is creating Westfield World Trade Center, a snaking and mostly below-ground megamall with its own fashionable tenants. Several of its stores will be inside the Oculus, the curvaceous centerpiece of the new transportation hub at the World Trade Center.


While Mr. Rose, who is offering relatively small units, is betting on single people, other developers are counting on the financial district to become even more family-friendly than it already is.

Indeed, about 4,000 homes in the neighborhood have people below the age of 18 living under their roofs, according to 2012 census data, or about 19 percent. In 2000, about 1,600 homes fit that description, or 14 percent, even as the percentage of family households in the borough of Manhattan declined slightly.

Suitability for families can be a deal-closer, said Eileen Hinton, a resident of the financial district since 2013. Although Ms. Hinton has lived in New York for 20 years, she had been to the financial district exactly once, for a party at the condo at 40 Broad Street. “It felt like New Jersey,” she recalled, in that it seemed so far away.

But Ms. Hinton, who was living in a Flatiron district rental and expecting a child, decided to give the area another look, as it seemed to offer roomy apartments for prices well below most Manhattan neighborhoods.

What she ended up with was a 2,300-square-foot three-bedroom at 99 John Street, a condo conversion. This year, Ms. Hinton, who runs a marketing agency, bought a next-door one-bedroom, which she’s renting out.

Though she declined to say what the units cost, a three-bedroom at the condo was listed earlier this month for about $2 million.

Ms. Hinton admits the nearby construction projects can be a pain; the stroller she bought for her daughter, Chloe, is engineered to absorb bumps on the sometimes indifferently paved streets. But, she added, “if you’re looking for space, value, convenience and family-friendliness, this is a great place.”

Other parents cite good playgrounds, like the one shaded by London plane trees at Pearl and Fulton Streets, which reopened in 2012 after a two-year makeover.

On a recent afternoon, while children ran around, the luminous facade of One World Trade Center loomed over rooftops — an insistent reminder of the area’s tragic history, and, perhaps, its ability to bounce back.

Parents also like the public schools, which generally receive high marks, though several were recently added after complaints about wait lists, including Public School 276 in Battery Park City, and Public School 397, which is at the base of New York by Gehry, an 870-foot rental on Spruce Street.

Also, the two-year-old Public School 343 is supposed to move from a temporary home to a former post office on Peck Slip, in the Seaport, in 2015.

Condo developers, in particular, seem to have gotten the message that families are coming, even if that means reversing earlier plans.

When the high-rise at William and Beaver Streets with the checkerboard brown-and-yellow facade opened about a decade ago as William Beaver House, it was aimed at the kind of young, single people toiling at the remaining investment banks.

Its cheeky ad campaigns featured animé women and a tuxedo-clad beaver hoisting a drink.

Now, though, the high-rise building, which struggled to find buyers in the recession and had to rent out units, is trying to attract families, and so has dropped the beaver mascot, and changed its name to 15 William. The marketing effort will be more reserved, said Heather McDonough, a broker with Douglas Elliman in charge of sales.

“We’re not going to have people walking around with martinis in their hands,” said Ms. McDonough, a resident of the building who also helped market it last time around.

There will be interior changes, too. A little-used handball court is being turned into a play space for older children; a common area on the penthouse level that suffered wear and tear from partying will be refreshed with new banquettes, a dining table and plants, Ms. McDonough said. Coupled with the makeover, the CIM Group, the owner, will begin a sales effort this fall for the 184 units that didn’t find buyers before. And, Ms. McDonough explained, about a third of those units could be combined to accommodate families. Prices will be mostly between $1,200 and $1,600 a square foot.

Overall, condos are expected to make up a larger slice of the housing pie going forward, according to figures from the Downtown Alliance, a civic and business advocacy group. From the beginning of 2014 to the end of 2017, the financial district is expected to welcome about 1,000 condo units and 1,200 rental units, after years when rentals were built almost exclusively.

For buyers, opportunities include 50 West Street, a long-delayed 64-story 191-unit glass-walled tower from Time Equities on the West Side Highway. It has been 30 percent sold since June, with prices averaging about $2,500 a square foot, a spokesman said. Buyers there and elsewhere don’t seem fazed by the fact that the low-lying edges of the financial district were inundated with water by Hurricane Sandy, forcing out some residents for weeks.

Developers like Time Equities were able to revise plans after the storm hit, many relocating key equipment to high floors.

In a few weeks, sales are to kick off for the Beekman Residences at 5 Beekman, a project of the GFI Development Company. The 68 condos will be in a new tower adjoining the 287-room Beekman Hotel. The hotel is part of a conversion of a Victorian office building that was one of New York’s first skyscrapers and is a source of fascination because its atrium and pyramid-shaped skylight were sealed up for much of the 20th century. The condos are to be finished in 2015.


For years, buyers headed south in search of discounts, and found them.

In the second quarter of 2012, for example, the average sale price in the financial district for co-ops and condos was $969 per square foot, according to Jonathan J. Miller, the president of Miller Samuel, an appraisal company. The average for all of Manhattan that quarter was $1,065 a square foot, he said, or about 10 percent higher.

This winter, the gap closed. And this spring the trend continued, with the average financial district sale price at $1,271 a square foot, exceeding the rest of Manhattan, which was $1,268.

And while the financial district still may be cheaper than many Manhattan neighborhoods, the difference can be negligible. Sure, Chelsea may have averaged $1,423 a foot in the second quarter, according to Mr. Miller’s data, but the financial district is catching up with the Upper West Side, $1,293 a foot, and Greenwich Village, $1,284.

Big-ticket luxury sales are driving the market, brokers say. According to the Corcoran Group, for instance, the median price of new-development condos in the neighborhood jumped 37 percent in the second quarter of this year, or to $1.147 million, from $835,000 a year ago.

Going forward, that category will be boosted by two blockbuster sales that closed last month, both for penthouses at W New York Downtown at 123 Washington Street, completed in 2010.

The deals — one at $2,500 a foot, and the other at $2,600 a foot — broke records for the area, Mr. Miller said.

The building, which has sold 127 of 157 units since 2008, ran into trouble in the recession, and has cycled through several sales teams, according to the Marketing Directors, its sales agent. More than 60 other units are being offered as furnished long-term-stay apartments.

Ariel Cohen, a broker at Douglas Elliman, who is not connected with the project but focuses on downtown, said the record prices bode well. “The market is very, very healthy,” he said.
Correction: August 17, 2014

A cover article last Sunday about the changing nature of the financial district described incorrectly the corporate presence of Goldman Sachs in the financial district. Goldman Sachs maintains its headquarters in the neighborhood; it has not pulled out of the financial district.

Prewar Bones, Renewed 

Mar 30, 2014

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Michele Kleier's New Listing at 911 Park Avenue is Profiled in The New York Times


A classically configured 10-room prewar apartment at 911 Park Avenue that has retained but reinvigorated its original bones with sophisticated finishes and an unusual modernist décor is poised to enter the market at $9.5 million.

The co-op, No. 9C, is in a 1927 limestone-and-brick building on the southeast corner of East 80th Street, in a residential neighborhood prized for its lack of hustle and bustle. The monthly maintenance is $5,447.13.

The 14-story building, one of more than a dozen gracious Park Avenue addresses designed by Schwartz and Gross, was converted to a co-op in 1952. It has just 40 residences, and like most of the units, No. 9C is reached by an elegant private elevator landing.

There are open city views from the oversize windows, which face north and east, including those in the four full bathrooms, all refurbished in 2006 when David Mann of MR Architecture + Décor was commissioned by the owners Lee and Wendy Chaikin to perform an exacting renovation that left no corner of the apartment untouched.

Only the ceiling beams, oak floors, and an impressive Traulsen refrigerator in the eat-in kitchen survived the makeover intact. Mrs. Chaikin was smitten by the commercial-grade stainless-and-glass fridge, so Mr. Mann and Joe Nahem of Fox-Nahem Associates, the decorator, worked around it.

The apartment is entered through an 8-by-24-foot gallery with Venetian-plaster walls in a shimmery espresso shade; the ceilings are just below 10 feet in height. On the north end of the gallery, a hallway opens onto the 17-by-29-foot living room, which has Venetian-plaster walls, three north-facing windows, and a working fireplace with a 19th-century French limestone mantel.

The south end of the gallery connects to the 15-by-22-foot formal dining room, which has eastern exposures and an oak herringbone floor; the fourth bedroom, off the gallery, is used as a library.

The kitchen faces east and has a multifaceted center island with a marble top, a wet bar and a built-in Viking wine cooler. The countertops are stainless steel, the stove is by Viking, and the ample cupboard space includes two pantry closets; there is a banquette nestled in a corner beneath one of the windows.

Pocket doors separate the kitchen from a three-part space shared by a playroom, a nanny’s room, and the laundry room, which has a south-facing window. There is also a full bath.

The private bedroom wing is parallel to the gallery, closed off by a nine-foot-tall door. The 14-by-21-foot corner master suite has northern and eastern exposures, an en-suite Calacatta gold marble bath, and two walk-in closets. The 15-by-11-foot children’s bedroom has an en-suite bath and northern exposures, and a second children’s bedroom faces east and shares its bath with the library.

Wendy and Lee Chaikin — he is a managing director at the Cowen Group, a financial services firm — resigned themselves to finding a roomier home in the neighborhood after having their fourth child. Mrs. Chaikin’s wish list began and ended with the words “25-foot-wide townhouse,” an elusive and, if in immaculate shape, aggressively priced species.

“We loved this apartment at first sight for its great light, nice size, and a sense of prewar grandeur we were able to put our own stamp on with the renovations,” she said. “But we grew into it and now we feel, with the four kids, that we need more space. If we only had two or three, we probably wouldn’t have ever moved.”

The listing broker, Michele Kleier of Kleier Residential, found the Park Avenue co-op for the Chaikins eight years ago and, after an exhaustive two-year search, introduced them to the vintage Upper East Side carriage house — definitely spacious enough for a family of six, but in rustic, less-than-luxurious shape — that they are moving to. Unlike the full-service co-op they are leaving, the carriage house would never be described as turnkey, unless of course the incoming occupants were well-heeled equines.

Ms. Kleier expects the co-op will appeal to buyers who appreciate prewar details and a quiet location.

“With the great bones, the high ceilings, and the graciousness of the large rooms,” she said, “the apartment manages to combine Old World grandeur with all of the modern conveniences. The raised doorways add brightness and space and make it feel very grand, but at the same time, the renovation has given it a young and modern look.”

New York’s Beau Monde Finds Downtown 

Jul 05, 2013

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Michele Kleier Discusses the Park Avenue Set Moving Downtown


For a select group of New Yorkers, having dinner at Harry Cipriani on 59th Street is considered “going downtown.”

But the dynamic between New Yorkers who live on the Upper East Side and those in Lower Manhattan is shifting, with many uptown adherents now embracing downtown neighborhoods that would once have been considered unthinkable.

“Downtown is livelier — we feel as though we have been in Milan for the weekend,” said Brooke Garber Neidich, a chairwoman of the Whitney Museum, a founder and chairwoman of the Child Mind Institute and a trustee of Lincoln Center Theater.

Ms. Neidich, who owns the Chicago-based jeweler Sidney Garber, has spent much of her married life living on exclusive East End Avenue. But a few years ago, she stunned her well-heeled friends by buying a pied-à-terre on West 12th Street in the Village. “When we come home at 10:30 in the evening,” she said, “we can sit outside at Sant Ambroeus and the streets are crowded and it’s not even a Saturday.”

Such a rarefied perspective may particularly rankle longtime downtowners, and portend the end of Manhattan’s few remaining bastions of bohemia. But just as flocks of young New Yorkers who might once have lived in the East Village are now in Brooklyn neighborhoods like Williamsburg, and those who had once lived in Williamsburg have moved on to Bushwick, it is perhaps inevitable that gaggles of Muffys and Thurstons wearing Lilly Pulitzer are invading neighborhoods below 14th Street. The cool crowd has long been on a southward migration.

And the numbers back it up. At the end of last year, for the first time since such data have been tracked, the average price for luxury condominiums downtown superseded the uptown average. The trend persisted into this year, with condos priced above $2,000 a square foot averaging nearly $5.9 million downtown in the first quarter, compared with $5.6 million uptown, according to the Corcoran Sunshine Marketing Group. Meanwhile, supply has exploded, with the number of luxury condo sales downtown surging 325 percent during the past year.

“You are seeing people ask themselves: Do I have an affair, get a divorce or get a downtown apartment?” said Michele Kleier, the president and chairwoman of Kleier Residential, a brokerage with a large uptown clientele. “It has become a very sexy thing to do, especially for those people living a sedate Park Avenue lifestyle.”

Ms. Kleier, herself a resident of Park Avenue, only recently began representing buyers interested in looking downtown. “I used to send my daughters,” she said, “but now so many clients are looking for expensive places downtown that I have had to learn the market there.” (She was referring to Sabrina Kleier-Morgenstern and Samantha Kleier-Forbes, both brokers at the firm.)

Ms. Kleier recently represented two Upper East Side families who are warehousing downtown apartments for their children. One couple bought two two-bedroom apartments for their high school-age children in Battery Park City; the other bought a three-bedroom for their son at 150 Charles Street in the West Village, which won’t be completed until 2015. Asking prices there are averaging nearly $4,000 a square foot. “By that time he will be in college, so he can live there if he’s in New York or they can rent it out,” Ms. Kleier said.

More than a dozen families, or as many as 15 percent of the buyers at 150 Charles, are relocating from uptown, according to Darren Sukenik, a managing director of Douglas Elliman. While many buyers from countries like China and Russia have been snatching up condominiums in the city, they are mostly focused on new high-rises under construction in Midtown. At 150 Charles Street, “uptown buyers are our version of foreign buyers,” said Mr. Sukenik. “That’s as foreign as it got for us. With all due respect to uptown.”

The new luxury developments downtown are drawing an uptown crowd in part because many of them are condominiums, and so are easier to rent out or keep as investments than co-ops, the housing stock that dominates the Upper East Side. Many of the downtown buildings are also offering extensive amenities. The Schumacher, for example, a relatively small, 20-unit condominium under construction on Bleecker Street, is offering perks like a 24-hour lobby attendant, a library and a children’s playroom with a giant pirate ship.

“Uptown buyers are spoiled; there is just more space uptown, more services,” said John Gomes, a managing director of Douglas Elliman, who represents the Schumacher. “And for so long, downtown never offered that kind of luxury. The uptown-downtown effect is so major, it is actually changing the way we are designing buildings.”

The developer Izak Senbahar has benefited firsthand from the trend. His new construction, the 60-story 56 Leonard Street in TriBeCa, has seen many buyers relocating from uptown, he said, although he declined to give the exact number. “I think there is a big romance about living downtown,” Mr. Senbahar said. “It is much more diverse, it isn’t all fund managers, but artists, literary people, then some Wall Street sprinkled in.” For those fortunate 1-percenters, “you can live in a building downtown now that has Upper East Side amenities, and still put on your flats, walk into small shops and live that easygoing lifestyle.”

Linda Lambert agrees. “You can go out to dinner and you don’t have to be dressed,” she said; “you don’t have to wear jewelry.” Ms. Lambert lives with her husband, Benjamin, the founder and chairman of the commercial brokerage firm Eastdil Secured, in a loft on Laight Street in TriBeCa. The couple had lived in a town house on 82nd Street between Park and Madison Avenues for decades before moving into the loft, which has 4,000 square feet and a 3,000-square-foot wraparound terrace. “Downtown feels urban — from my office I can see the Freedom Tower, and I look over Canal Street — yet there is also an unbelievable sense of space and light.”

For Suzanne Cochran and her husband, Robert, a founder of the Build America Mutual Assurance Company, it was a downtown soiree some years ago that persuaded them to buy a pied-à-terre in TriBeCa. “We were at a friend’s party,” Ms. Cochran recalled. “She is a very downtown girl, and it was all my favorite kind of people: artists — cool, hip people. And we were the only ones who lived on the Upper East Side.” At the time they were living on 84th Street and Park Avenue.

The couple, who have grown children, soon bought a 5,500-square-foot loft and began alternating on the weekends between the loft and their home on Long Island. Last year, they sold their uptown home to move downtown full time. “The idea of doormen or service, that doesn’t really exist down here,” Ms. Cochran said, “but I love taking the subway and being able to walk everywhere.”

In addition to empty-nesters, families are embracing downtown, said Kelly Kennedy Mack, the president of Corcoran Sunshine Marketing Group. “Instead of their kids getting to a certain age and then automatically moving uptown” to attend the private schools clustered along the Upper East and Upper West Sides, “more are deciding to stay downtown. And now the grandparents are coming downtown to join them.”

Avenues: the World School, a new for-profit school that opened this past year in Chelsea, has been a major driver of this, Ms. Mack added.

But while it is fast becoming the latest fad for uptowners to dip a toe into downtown, the trend is still largely untested. “I am not sure that once they get down there, they are all going to love it,” Ms. Kleier said. “They may find themselves constantly going uptown to get their nails and hair done. It could be that the excitement wears off.”

Still, even if some decide to move back uptown, “the downtown luxury market has become one of the most talked-about and the most desirable to live in the city for buyers of all ages,” Ms. Mack said. “There is a renaissance of super-prime luxury developments pioneering in the downtown market right now.”

Room to Dine; No Wall Views Please 

May 24, 2013

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Room to Dine; No Wall Views Please


It didn’t take much thought for Stephanie Budijono and Jean-Francois Kagy to decide to settle in New York.

They met in Princeton, N.J., as graduate students at Princeton University, where she studied chemical engineering and he economics. Ms. Budijono, 28, now works in Princeton as a scientist, while Mr. Kagy, 31, works in Midtown East for an economic consulting firm.

The two toyed with the idea of living in New Jersey, but both prefer city life. As grad students, they often visited New York, sometimes just for dinner. When they returned to Princeton in the wee hours, “we imagined living in the city and being just 10 minutes away from home,” Mr. Kagy said.

And they never agreed with friends who cited the difficulty they might eventually face rearing children in the city.

The Upper East Side felt homey and family-oriented, filled with children on weekends. With a price range between $700,000 and $900,000 for a co-op, the couple initially hoped for a three-bedroom, but these turned out to be too pricey. So they went looking for a two-bedroom with a well-ventilated kitchen.

“For us, the home is really important,” said Ms. Budijono, who is from Indonesia. “It’s not only a place for us to sleep and shower, but a place for us to relax and hang out, and food is a very important part in our relationship. I like to cook and like to try out new recipes. People say New Yorkers don’t eat at home a lot, but I do. I need to eat at home to be able to enjoy eating out.”

They also wanted a real dining area with room for a “floating dining table,” she said, so nobody would face a wall while eating.

Last year, Mr. Kagy, who is from Montreal, went to his first open house, in Carnegie Hill, to suss out what kind of co-op their budget would allow. As he left, Sabrina Kleier-Morgenstern, an executive vice president of Kleier Residential, waved him into her open house on the same floor. Recognizing her from the HGTV show, “Selling New York,” he pocketed her card.

He started walking the cross streets of the Upper East Side, back and forth, becoming familiar with the neighborhood. “Maybe we can get more data points,” he thought, referring to such information as liquidity requirements for co-ops. He contacted Ms. Kleier-Morgenstern.

Sometimes couples disagree on what they want, she said, “but they really seemed to be in sync and have similar sorts of tastes.”

Often, places they saw were perfectly nice but had tiny second bedrooms or lacked dining space. A lovely prewar co-op in the Sutton Place neighborhood had a layout issue: with six steps up to the living room and down to the bedroom, the couple feared problems with reselling.

The location was a bit off, too: Though the apartment was across East 59th Street from the Bridgemarket, and though the view of the Roosevelt Island tramway was delightful, the couple didn’t relish walking on First Avenue beneath the dark and noisy Queensboro Bridge overpass. The apartment, listed for $875,000, with maintenance of around $2,300 a month, later sold for $872,500.

The couple decided they would rather be nearer Central Park and farther north. They hunted efficiently, kept to a schedule by Daniel Kerin, an agent at Kleier Residential. “I say it took a minute a block and two minutes an avenue, and we planned an itinerary,” Mr. Kerin said. “We are not time-wasters.”

The couple fell in love with a prewar co-op in the mid-80s near Park Avenue, listed at $832,000, with monthly maintenance in the $1,800s.

It was well located, near the 86th Street subway, and in a coveted school district. But they didn’t like the brick wall just outside the living room and master bedroom.

They returned again and again. “Each time we would go back and stare out the window and think, ‘Does it really make sense, because the view is close to zero?’ ” Mr. Kagy said. They turned the lights off and on, gauging the dimness or brightness.

“We thought maybe we could live with this, because we loved the apartment so much,” Ms. Budijono said. “We loved the kitchen, the lobby, the feel. Sometimes you cannot explain that.” They agonized, and decided against it. The place is now in contract.

In the end, they returned to an apartment they had seen earlier, in the low 90s near Park Avenue — a 1,000-square-foot two-bedroom, just at treetop level, with quaint row houses across the street.

The kitchen, though long and skinny, had a counter with seats by the window; the living room was large enough for a floating table. The bathroom had a tub as well as a separate shower stall. The master bedroom faces the street; the second bedroom looks over a ventilation system, but still gets sun and sky — which is better than having a brick wall a few feet away.

The unit was listed at $829,000, with monthly maintenance of around $1,900. The couple purchased it in March for $800,000.

“They were very, very thorough,” Ms. Kleier-Morgenstern said. “This was a thoughtful, precise decision for them.”

Though they thought their apartment might be a bit far from the subway, it doesn’t seem far because the walk is so engaging. The couple love Carnegie Hill’s small shops and its relatively quiet streets, as they knew they would.

Being so thorough, Mr. Kagy said, they had returned many times to make sure that right after they moved in, they wouldn’t be saying, “ ‘Oh, gosh, how come we didn’t see that and are stuck with it for the next five years?’

“This apartment came with no surprises. It is a two-bedroom. It is not as though we discovered a third bedroom.”

Dear Owner: Please Sell 

Feb 10, 2013

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Michele Kleier says "Get a Well-Connected Broker"


A shortage of New York City apartments for sale is forcing real estate agents to take extreme, if not desperate, measures in order to conjure up listings.

One tactic is sending letters to all the two-bedrooms, say, in choice buildings to try to persuade their owners to sell. Another is buttering up the doorman for information on who might be inclined to move — a couple with a baby on the way, perhaps, or newly empty nesters.

Some brokers are trolling through expired listings in the hopes of reviving a dead deal. Others are digging through rental agreements to see when leases in coveted buildings might be coming due. And at least one broker has found that her years of volunteering at nursing homes have helped her find leads (more on that later).

Working the phone, the Rolodex and even the memory, brokers say, is all part of the game now that listings have hit a record low. Just 5,160 apartments and town houses were on the market in Manhattan at the end of last year, according to the appraisal firm Miller Samuel. That’s the lowest number since comprehensive tracking began about 12 years ago.

“If you are a shoe salesman, you need shoes to sell,” said Linette Semino, an associate broker at Warburg Realty. “Otherwise you’re not a shoe salesman.” To stock her shelves, she has been scouring expired listings, contacting landlords to see if they will sell, and soliciting owners by letter on her buyers’ behalf. With listings so scarce, “you have to think outside of the box,” she said.

Sure, most of these off-market exploits don’t result in deals. But in some cases, they have produced the keys to a new home. Following are six strategies for creating inventory in a tight market.

Go Canvassing

That’s what brokers call sending letters to owners to see if they will sell. Jeff Silverstein, a broker with Douglas Elliman, recently sent out a mailing to roughly 1,000 owners in choice buildings south of 14th Street. “Dear Resident Owner,” the letter began, “I am currently working with a client who is looking to live downtown. The inventory is extremely low and I need either a two-bedroom or three-bedroom apartment for her. ...” He has received three responses since the letters went out a couple of weeks ago.

Canvassing worked for Andrew Phillips, a broker with Halstead Property, when he was working with a family looking for a pied-à-terre. After a deal fell through on a $3.2 million apartment on Leonard Street in TriBeCa, Mr. Phillips sent handwritten letters to the owners of similar apartments in the building, including one that had recently been pulled from the market. When he didn’t hear from the owner or his former listing agent, he tracked the owner to his Florida address and called him.

“I said, ‘I have a buyer who missed out, and we’re not going to question the price,’ ” Mr. Phillips recalled. The owner gave him the go-ahead to show the unit, which was slightly smaller than the other place but nicely renovated. The family liked it so much they paid an additional $150,000 for the furniture, which brought the total to $3.45 million.

Approaching owners also recently paid off for Michael Rubin, an agent with CORE.

Last spring, Deepak and Kirti Srikant dropped by an open house Mr. Rubin was hosting in their building. They were just curious, said Mr. Srikant, the marketing director for a medical device start-up. “We weren’t convinced just yet that we wanted to move or sell.” But because the couple were sharing the bedroom with their small child, “we knew we’d have to move at some point. ”

Mr. Rubin asked if they would be interested in listing their apartment. He told them he had buyers already lined up. He said he knew he could sell at a good price.

“I harassed them,” he said jokingly.

Eventually, the couple agreed to show their apartment without actually listing it, with a specific price in mind: $1.35 million. They closed last month for nearly 4 percent more than what they had hoped for and more than 20 percent above what they paid in 2007.

And the Srikants made money on the deal by spending less than they had received on a two-bedroom with two baths and an office alcove in the financial district. “It’s a win-win that way,” Mr. Srikant said.

Search Expired Listings

Apartments are taken off the market for all kinds of reasons, ranging from low offers to visiting houseguests. You can search for expired listings on Streeteasy.com by selecting “advanced search” and “include only unavailable listings” under “listing status.” You will need to do a fair amount of cross-referencing to be sure a place has truly been removed — not sold and taken off the broker’s Web site or relisted with another agent. Then you can contact the original broker to see if the former client is still interested in selling. Be prepared to offer more than the original listing price.

Jessica Cohen, an associate broker with Douglas Elliman, came up with a three-bedroom on the Upper West Side by thumbing through expired listings.

Though the apartment had received multiple bids, she said, the owner had decided he wasn’t ready to move — partly because he’d had trouble finding a larger apartment for himself. But because her clients’ budget was higher than what the owner had initially asked, he allowed them to see it.

“It’s hard to get comfortable with paying over asking price for something that didn’t sell three months earlier,” Ms. Cohen said. But with “nothing to buy” she said, her clients are considering putting in an offer.

Consider a Combination

Can’t find a large enough apartment? Maybe you should be thinking about combining two small units. Studios and small one-bedrooms are fairly plentiful in the Upper East Side corridor east of Third Avenue beginning at 96th Street and stretching down through Kips Bay into the 20s, according to Frederick Peters, the president of Warburg Realty.

Spotting just such an opportunity, Elaine Tross, an executive vice president of Halstead Property, showed two side-by-side units at 250 East 87th Street, a Junior 4 and a two-bedroom two-bath unit that had a combined 2,300 feet of space. The total asking price was $2.175 million.

Because the building was in the thick of the Second Avenue subway construction zone, buyers would have to live with daily blasts for many months. But with few large apartments on the market, families looking for space were drawn to the listing.

The place ultimately sold to a seven-person household, including a live-in nanny, for $2.031 million. A completed three-bedroom combination in the same building is currently on the market for $2.5 million.

Combining apartments is not for everyone, Ms. Tross said, pointing out that such renovations are expensive, and require an architect as well as approval from the building and the city. But after several months of extensive remodeling, the seven-member family now has a four-bedroom four-bath home, she said.

“For the headache of it,” Ms. Tross said, “they got the apartment at a good price.”

Sweet-Talk the Doorman

Privy to many intimate details of the lives of their building’s residents, doormen often know, long before any listings are posted, when a move is planned.

“They have a very early idea of what’s happening,” said Jarrod Randolph, a broker with CORE, who found a client a $4.1 million Upper East Side three-bedroom about a year ago by chatting up the doorman.

Engaging in a conversation that may produce such information requires some finesse. You can’t be pushy and ask for the unit number, Mr. Randolph said. A better approach is to leave your card and ask the doorman to please pass it on to the sellers.

“I might come back a week later at the same time and on the same day, assuming the same doorman will be there,” he said, “and I might bring him coffee and cookies.”

Get a Well-Connected Broker

Michele Kleier, the president of Kleier Residential, has been going through her mental lists of past sales to figure out who might be ready to move again. “You need to keep on top of lifestyle changes,” she said, “because the truth is, if somebody is becoming an empty nester, very often they are going to move to a smaller apartment.”

People don’t necessarily focus on when the best time would be to enter the market, she added. With demand so strong for larger apartments right now, past clients with three or four bedrooms are sometimes shocked to learn how much their apartments are worth. Learn to Play Chess

Tova Weiner, an agent with A. C. Lawrence & Company, has been volunteering at nursing homes and retiree centers since grade school, never with any idea that it would end up benefiting her real estate career.

“One day an elderly woman asked what I do for a living,” Ms. Weiner recalled. “I told her I’m a real estate agent. In less than 60 seconds I had the whole room gather around asking advice regarding their properties. I walked out of that nursing home that day with my hands full of listings.”

Ms. Weiner, who primarily handles commercial listings but also does some residential, says she continues to receive calls and referrals from “the elders,” as she respectfully refers to the people she has met in nursing homes over the years.

“They know everyone and everything that’s in their neighborhood,” she said. “They know who is getting married, expecting a baby, getting divorced, moving, dying, selling and buying, and they know the story behind the vacant building down the street.

“Can’t find what you’re looking for?” Ms. Weiner said, “Just go to the park chess tables and ask.”

Big Ticket | Full-Floor Luxury for $12.9 million 

Feb 01, 2013

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Michele Kleier represented the buyer of a full floor apartment at 823 Park Avenue


A full-floor condominium with ample Park Avenue frontage and white-glove amenities in a prewar building that underwent a luxurious and luminous two-year makeover under the direction of the architect Barry Rice in 2004, sold for $12.9 million and was the most expensive sale of the week, according to city records. The original listing price was $15 million.

The residence at 823 Park Avenue, No. 8, has nine rooms and occupies nearly 4,200 square feet. The beige limestone Greek Revival-style building, built in 1911, was originally designed by the firm Pickering and Walker as one of the first rentals on the avenue, with an entire floor devoted to each apartment.

The monthly carrying charges, including taxes, for No. 8, a five-bedroom, four-and-a-half-bath unit, are $10,120. Although the building offers no outdoor space, there is a full gymnasium/health club in the basement and an elegant lobby finished in French limestone.

The corner living room to the south and mahogany-paneled library to the north sprawl for a full block between 75th and 76th Streets facing west on Park Avenue; both rooms have fireplaces with carved marble mantels and 10-foot-high coffered ceilings.

The oversize windows are framed in mahogany, and the floors are polished herringbone oak. The eat-in kitchen has three windows, honed blue slate countertops, and professional-caliber Viking equipment. The master bedroom, tucked away at the back of the apartment for privacy, has southern exposures, oak plank flooring, a walk-in closet/dressing area and an all-marble bath.

The sellers, Joseph Oughourlian and Jennifer Banks of London, were represented by Charlie Attias of the Corcoran Group. Michele Kleier of Kleier Residential represented the buyer, the financier Thomas C. Uger. Formerly an independent director of PriMedia, Mr. Uger is a partner in Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Company and a leader of its media and communications team.

Who's Got Your Back? 

Jun 10, 2012

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The Kleier Team is Profiled by the New York Times


IN a city with more than 20,000 registered real estate agents, is it any wonder that choosing one can be a difficult and sometimes fraught process?

There’s the agent who sold your best friend’s apartment for 20 percent more than she dreamed possible. But what about the downstairs neighbor who never misses a chance to remind you that he’s a broker? And what would Aunt Myra say if you didn’t use Cousin Bob, who just got into real estate and hasn’t sold anything yet? (“He just needs a little confidence.”)

A good broker can help you make sound decisions and guide you through what might easily be the most expensive and emotionally charged transaction of your life. So, how to weed out brokers who can’t stop talking about themselves, or who can’t tear their eyes from their BlackBerrys long enough to answer a question, and perhaps more important, know shockingly little about their listings or the market?

Whether you’re buying or selling, interviewing an agent is the best way to figure all of that out and to determine whether you would get along over the course of an intense several months. The interview can be as informal as a quick conversation at an open house and a follow-up phone call.

Find out what a broker has already sold and how he or she would help you sell or find a home. Dottie Herman, the chief executive of Prudential Douglas Elliman, also suggested asking what the broker would do “if not everything goes right” and an apartment doesn’t sell quickly or a board rejects a buyer. “You want someone who has confidence and knowledge and who you have a rapport with,” she said. At the same time, she added, “You don’t want a know-it-all, because nobody knows it all.”

Sellers sign contracts with their listing agents, and many buyers also work with specific agents in finding a home. A buyer’s agent is paid by the seller in a deal, but will shepherd the buyer’s bid through to the closing, which could be especially helpful in the notoriously enigmatic co-op board process.

“For buyers, you’re not getting the discount or saving a commission,” said Diane M. Ramirez, the president of Halstead Property, “so if you don’t have a broker, you’re just on your own. Do you really want not to be represented when the other side is?”

Buyers who don’t work with a specific agent sometimes agree to “dual agency,” in which the seller’s broker also represents the buyer. But Frederick Peters, the president of Warburg Realty, recently wrote a blog post in which he challenged the notion of dual agency, saying what many brokers believe but are reluctant to admit. “The buyer wants to pay as little as he can; the seller wants to net as much as he can,” he wrote. “What agent can fight simultaneously for both those outcomes?”

In the end, both buyers and sellers should have representatives. People tend to gravitate to agents with whom they feel comfortable. It could be their Type A personality, a shared love of the opera, or a favorite neighborhood deli. Or maybe they vacation in the same place, or have children in the same school. Maybe the agent tells hilarious jokes. New York City’s legion of real estate agents can be categorized in many ways. Here are a few of them.

The Hand-Holder

Some agents are better than others at anticipating a client’s needs and at catering to people who need a little more attention through the machinations of a real estate deal. Someone who is patient and a good listener can play that part, be it for a jittery first-time buyer or a high-strung owner who needs frequent calming down.

Brian Lewis, an executive vice president of Halstead Property, is an easygoing Southerner who knows how to take the edge off the most frenzied real estate transaction.

“I take my cues from the client,” he said. “I understand that buying or selling a home is an emotional thing. When you add that emotion to the kind of money we’re dealing with, you get a perfect storm of crazy.”

An actor by training, Mr. Lewis can sense when someone needs a sympathetic ear “and someone to hold your hand to help navigate what can be tumultuous waters.”

One of Halstead’s top producers, he has represented owners of $400,000 studios and buyers searching for a $20 million penthouse. “I treat everybody the same,” he said. “I do my best to make sure they feel that someone has their back.”

Alan Nickman, an executive vice president of Bellmarc Realty, operates similarly. “Any broker worth his or her salt needs to be able to hear and not just listen to what somebody else is saying,” he said.

He once worked with a buyer who was blind, but insisted she wanted an apartment with a view. Believing he knew better, he tried to steer her to apartments without views that were a better value. When he pressed her on why she wanted a view, she responded, “Alan, how many of your clients are blind?”

That stopped him cold. He realized then that he had made an incorrect assumption and that the buyer had been thinking ahead to her apartment’s resale potential. “I learned a big lesson that day,” he said. “Everybody’s got their own issues or concerns, and you have to listen carefully and address them.”

DO YOU NEED A HAND-HOLDER? Yes, if you’re wondering how many times you can call or e-mail your broker every day.

The Authority

While most people don’t like being told what to do, some buyers and sellers respond better to a broker with a firm and definitive style. Someone who knows the ropes and exudes confidence because of that knowledge can be that kind of authority.

Richard Orenstein, an executive vice president of Halstead, knows the downtown market like few others. Mainly a seller’s broker, he has a no-nonsense manner and a dry wit. “People just feel comfortable with me,” he said. “Maybe they need a daddy figure to tell them that they’re doing the right thing.” But with him in their corner, he said, they know “they’re going to get the job done and they’re going to get the most money.”

He likes to say that he has a Ph.D. in managing unrealistic expectations. Sellers, he said, are like new parents, and “just like nobody has ugly children, everybody wants $10 million for their home. Part of my job is explaining to them what it’s really worth and bringing them down to earth.” He does that by sharing all he knows about comparable properties, including ones that aren’t yet on the market because “people invite me over even if they don’t know they’re going to sell.”

Lisa Lippman, a senior vice president of Brown Harris Stevens and the firm’s West Side broker of the year for the last six years, has a similarly encyclopedic knowledge of the Upper West Side. A former lawyer and the mother of three, she speaks with rapid-fire intensity and rarely misses the mark.

“I give people a lot of information, “ she said. “I always remember it’s their money, and I keep them as informed as possible.” It helps that she rarely forgets an apartment she has seen or anything she has heard about a building. When working with buyers, she said, nothing bothers her more than “a listing broker who knows nothing, and all they can say when you ask a question is: ‘I don’t know. I don’t know.’ ”

In Brooklyn, Jim Cornell, a senior vice president of the Corcoran Group, has been known to call trends before anyone else has spotted them. He started taking people to the Gowanus neighborhood when others were still running from the Gowanus Canal. He has worked in brownstone Brooklyn since 1992, long before it became a bustling alternative for displaced Manhattanites.

His knowledge is not thanks to longevity alone, he said, although it does help that he has his own database of sold properties for the last nine years. “Part of it is just a gut feeling,” he said.

Mr. Cornell works with a partner, Leslie Marshall, who perhaps not coincidentally is better at hand-holding than he. “The authority part of it just frankly works for me; it’s the only way I know to be,” he said. “You get that way by telling people what they should bid instead of asking what they want to bid — it’s just how I talk to people, and my wife will tell you that it’s not always a good thing.”

HOW DO YOU KNOW YOU’VE FOUND AN AUTHORITY? If the broker can tell you how many other apartments just like the one you’re looking at have sold in the last six months.

The Local Expert

In this age of easy Web access to listings, brokers don’t often specialize in neighborhoods the way they did when properties were listed only on closely guarded index cards. But there are still some brokers with a very narrow focus who are known as building specialists, and in at least one case, as a block specialist.

Over the last 16 years, Jessica Ushan, a senior vice president of Brown Harris Stevens, has sold about 200 apartments at the Sovereign, a 48-story tower at 425 East 58th Street. She has handled 9 of this year’s 12 sales in the building, and has another pending.

Ms. Ushan’s first deal in the building was in the early 1990s when she represented the person who bought Freddie Mercury’s three-bedroom apartment, complete with “silvery draperies everywhere.” The buyer was a co-op board member who then recommended Ms. Ushan to become the Sovereign’s on-site broker. She left that position when she joined Brown Harris in 2007, but her relationship with the building stuck.

Residents and buyers turn to her because she knows every apartment line, is familiar with the co-op board and keeps a list of contractors and designers who have worked in the building. Ms. Ushan has never actually lived in the Sovereign. “My husband didn’t think it would be a good idea, because I would be working 24/7,” she said.

Arabella Buckworth, a senior vice president of Corcoran, is known as “the Queen of West 67th Street” because she has sold scores of apartments on the block that runs between Central Park West and Columbus Avenue. Anchored by the Hotel des Artistes, the block is a trove of distinctive prewar apartment buildings with high-ceilinged apartments designed to be artists’ studios. Over the years, as many of the original artists moved on, the block attracted luminaries from other fields, including film stars and writers.

“I fell in love with this block the first time I saw it,” said Ms. Buckworth, who sold her first apartment there more than 20 years ago. After that, her reputation developed by word of mouth. By now she has sold apartments in every building on the block.

“There are buyers who live elsewhere who are just fixated on the block, and people on the block tend to want to stay on it,” she said. “It has something that sets it apart.”

HOW DO YOU FIND A BUILDING BROKER? Check building Web sites and ask doormen or current owners.

The Team

When just starting out in real estate, most agents are on their own, but as their business develops, they may enlist an assistant or a partner to allow them to take on more business. Some teams list as many as 9 or 10 agents, and clients may be disappointed when the marquee name who heads the team doesn’t have as much time for them as they had hoped.

Leonard Steinberg, who leads the seven-member Leonard Steinberg-Luxury Loft Group at Prudential Douglas Elliman, says he avoids that type of criticism by making sure that either he or his partner, Herve Senequier, handles all client meetings and most apartment showings. Other team members handle the administrative and technical work and some showings with prospective buyers for their listings.

“To expect a broker in a big team to devote all their time to one client is not realistic,” Mr. Steinberg said. “Brokers who can do that are inexperienced and don’t have many transactions. There are some things that don’t require my direct attention, but the most important thing is whenever a client needs to speak to me, I am available always.”

The benefit of a large team is that it can accommodate many more appointments, so clients who don’t mind visiting an apartment without either Mr. Steinberg or Mr. Senequier can often see the space without delay.

Michele Kleier, the president of Gumley Haft Kleier, is similarly unconcerned about clients’ feeling shortchanged, because her team includes her daughters, Sabrina Kleier-Morgenstern and Samantha Kleier-Forbes. “When you have somebody who has been with you for their whole lives,” Ms. Kleier said, “they’re going to know exactly how you would like things done. We’re like one person divided into three bodies — it’s one brain.”

As seen on the HGTV show “Selling New York,” the three Kleiers spend a great deal of time together and frequently finish one another’s sentences. It is not unusual to send an e-mail to Ms. Kleier and receive a response from one of her daughters. “Even if it’s not directly from me, you get an answer right away,” Ms. Kleier said. “But you don’t feel like you’re getting a junior member or someone who’s not up to snuff.”

WHO SHOULD CHOOSE A TEAM? Someone who wants a cast of characters to be able to quickly handle all questions and appointments.

The Legacy Broker

Many brokers build their business through their networks of acquaintances, but some maintain those relationships so well that they wind up representing the friends, relatives and children of early connections.

For Bonnie Chajet and Ronnie Lane, senior vice presidents of Warburg Realty who have been business partners for 33 years, the relationships develop naturally, because “most of the people we sell apartments to are part of our social circle,” Ms. Chajet said. They run into one another at dinner parties, at charity and school events, or in the communities where they have weekend homes.

Their clients know, Ms. Chajet said, that she and Ms. Lane are not afraid to recommend against buying if they have concerns about a particular apartment or building. “We’re not after the deal because we’re more interested in the relationship,” she said.

Their first deal was for a 10-room apartment on Park Avenue that sold for $78,000 in 1978, and that probably would sell now for as much as $6 million. “That certainly dates us, doesn’t it?” Ms. Chajet said. “But once we sell to someone, they tend to refer us to their offspring, and we’ve done this with many families.”

And, Ms. Lane added, “we hope to stay in business long enough to get the grandchildren.”

Kirk Henckels, an executive vice president of Stribling & Associates who was once a corporate banker, says he, too, “almost always deals with friends.” He and his colleague Margaret Furniss sold Brooke Astor’s duplex at 778 Park Avenue last year for $21 million. Mr. Henckels said that while he knew the Astor family, “it was Margie who had the relationship, and that’s a big part of it — they know you and they trust you.”

ARE YOU CONNECTED TO A LEGACY? Scour your social circle, and if there isn’t a broker there already, you’re out of luck.


¶Ask friends and relatives for recommendations, but get specifics on the broker’s strengths and weaknesses. Someone who was ideal for a Classic 7 on Park Avenue might not make sense for a studio in the East Village.

¶Armed with names of prospects, check out the brokers’ Web sites and review their sales.

¶Visit open houses to see if the agent is representing the listing the way you would want your home to be represented.

¶Traits to look for: familiar with the market, organized, confident, assertive but not obnoxious. All are important for successful negotiating.

¶Don’t hire someone just because he or she says what you want to hear.

¶For a sales agent, find out how your home would be marketed. What kind of budget is planned for advertising? How often will open houses be held?

A Hidden Nest Atop Barneys to Make Deals 

May 02, 2012

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Michele Kleier Talks About Fred's at Barneys


GOLDEN birds are painted onto the thick columns of Fred’s at Barneys New York, the coolly elegant ninth-floor dining room of the department store. They perch stiffly, arch their necks and hold their beaks high; their plumes are perfectly groomed, their bodies remarkably thin. There is no question they inhabit the higher branches of their kingdom, much like the diners chirping beside them.

Fred’s may not shout its position in the city’s lunchtime pecking order like the testosterone-heavy Le Cirque or Four Seasons. But this aerie, designed for flagging shoppers, has slowly lured diners like Sofia Coppola, Barbara Walters, Christine C. Quinn and Hillary Rodham Clinton from more conventional spots to see and be seen.

And it’s not just ladies who lunch at Fred’s. Larry David, Bruce Springsteen, Donny Deutsch and Ronald O. Perelman have been spotted there, along with plenty of hedge-funders. The Tisches, whose Loews Regency Hotel serves the city’s premier power breakfast, are regulars. Fred’s is practically the Corcoran Group canteen.

“I’ve closed my best deal either at Fred’s or on the golf course,” said Pamela Liebman, Corcoran’s president, who always puts in a special order for a piece of salmon or tuna over spinach. She said she persuaded Mrs. Clinton to speak at a company meeting after she was seated next to her. “You never know who you might see,” she said.

Bathed in gentle light, the dining room is wrapped in honey-colored wood paneling and gray wallpaper with a faint overlay of tree branches. On weekdays, it fills with immaculately preened women of all ages whose dominant hair colors tend to be amber and butter blond. Everything about Fred’s feels civilized: the ordering, the eating, the horse trading and the back-stabbing.

Few here have actually come to shop, and not a Barneys bag is in sight. No one is really there for the food, either, but the salads are massive and delicious. Diners, many with aged hands and young faces, dig into deep bowls of Fred’s $26 chopped chicken salad, and its $32 niçoise with grilled tuna. The bread has a mythical status with this “bread is the devil” crowd. It’s dense, buttery and chewy. Insiders ask for the whole-grain version, which is sliced thin and hints of honey.

Where the beautiful and powerful congregate, of course, so do the merely rich. The girlish chatter of the social set floats constantly over the clink of glasses and the clatter of silverware. On a recent afternoon, these diners sternly exerted what power they had, demanding of the wait staff: glasses of water with ice, but not too much ice; bread that was warm not cold; half a salad; a handful more potatoes; more lemon. One cranky dieter squawked: “Just bring me a plate of vegetables.”

Two friends debated the nose of another diner — real or fake? — and ruminated on second husbands (must they be Jewish?), the gastrointestinal results of homeopathic diets (unfortunate) and whether it’s appropriate for grandmothers to shop at Forever 21 (the verdict is still out). Snide jabs passed through the room about whose spouse was unfaithful and about the bride and groom whose parents wouldn’t meet until the wedding reception.

The deal makers have their own uses for this deep-pocketed backdrop. Michele Kleier, who runs the brokerage firm Gumley Haft Kleier and stars in the reality show “Selling New York,” has dined at Fred’s since it opened in 1996, often with her daughters, Samantha and Sabrina. Ms. Kleier always asks for a circular table facing the entrance. She orders the $32 Jumbo Lump Crab Meat and Shrimp salad, has bread “when I’m not starving myself” and occasionally indulges in “the most fabulous French fries.” Then she waits for marks to walk in.

“All of our clients who we haven’t seen in three months, if they see you at Barneys at Fred’s,” Ms. Kleier said, “you get a call the next day.”

Real Estate as Backdrop for the Latest Reality TV 

May 23, 2011

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Michele Kleier Threw a Fabulous Party at The Clock Tower Building in Dumbo


The party, in a triplex loft floating high above the East River, was just getting started a little after 6 p.m. on Wednesday. The models, leggy young women dressed in Nina Ricci, Proenza Schouler and Calvin Klein, had started to circulate as waiters came through with trays of canapés like smoked salmon topped with glistening orange roe. A jazz quartet kept up a steady rhythm from under the stairs as guests milled about, exclaiming over the panoramic views through four enormous, synchronized glass clocks set in the tower walls.

But over by the door, the evening’s hostesses were tied in a vibrating knot of anxiety, trailed by a television crew as they paced in heels with phones glued to their ears and fretted about the rain. They were real estate agents trying to drum up excitement for what could become the most expensive apartment in all of Brooklyn — if it sells at the right price — and frantically working to arrange cars to ferry missing brokers over to Dumbo from Manhattan.

“It’s very hard to get people here just to look at it — they won’t come,” said Michele Kleier of Gumley Haft Kleier, which is marketing the 6,800-square-foot apartment at the top of the ClockTower building at 1 Main Street. “But if you offer them a fabulous evening,” she added, and provide transportation, maybe you can get enough people who know other people willing to shell out $23.5 million for a trophy apartment, with its own glass-walled elevator, crow’s nest deck and catering-inspired kitchen.

But the party, an event that has become almost de rigueur as a luxury marketing tool, was notable for more than the lengths to which Ms. Kleier and her daughters, executive vice presidents of her agency, had gone. It was also an embodiment of the intersection of real estate and reality TV, a junction where the proliferation of shows turning a voyeuristic eye on the gaining and shedding of expensive homes has injected a higher dose of showmanship into the marketing strategy.

Indeed, the ClockTower party, taped for the half-hour series the agency regularly is featured on, HGTV’s “Selling New York,” became an art-and-commerce version of the serpent eating its tail. Asher Abehsera, managing director for residential properties at Two Trees, which developed the building and much of Dumbo, said he had been impressed by a segment on the show featuring Ms. Kleier’s marketing of the Stanhope on Fifth Avenue and asked her to take on the ClockTower, which went on the market in 2009 for $25 million.

“Very successful brokers are really about selling real estate, and it’s very much all day, all night — it’s part of what they do,” said Shari Levine, senior vice president for production at Bravo, which is shooting another reality series, a New York version of its Los Angeles-based “Million Dollar Listing,” which will follow the work and personal lives of three brokers.

“Selling New York” follows a revolving groups of brokers from three agencies. The brokers are paid honorariums for their appearances, enough for “a decent dinner” out, said Courtney Campbell, who oversees the program at JV Productions, the company that took it to HGTV.

But Ms. Kleier and her daughters, Sabrina Kleier-Morgenstern and Samantha Kleier-Forbes, say it has brought them clients.

Frederick Peters, president of Warburg Realty Partnership, who also appears in the series, sees the benefits differently.

“It would be hard for me to say that we now have more listings because of that,” he said. “But inevitably, over time, having more people know about your company and see that we do a thorough and professional job translates into more calls, more business.”

But some in the business see no benefit at all, and caution that many of the so-called new clients are actually more interested in being on television than in buying or selling property.

“I think it is much more about someone — whether it’s a buyer, a seller or a broker on there — about their 15 minutes of fame than anything else,” said Hall F. Willkie, president of Brown Harris Stevens, adding that buyers at the highest end want more, rather than less, privacy about their interests and purchases.

Mr. Willkie said the shows reached a vast audience, but not an audience of buyers. “No one looking for real estate in New York City — not a soul — turns on reality TV to find their property,” he said.

Back at the party, though, things had picked up. A mix of brokers, publicists, business professionals and artistic types, like the clothing designer Yeohlee Teng and her partner, the architect Joerg Schwartz, were crowded onto the main level and wandering upstairs. Andrew Rothstein, one of the “Selling New York” directors, hovered behind the cameras, listening through an earpiece to what the Kleier women were saying as they squired guests around.

“We’re looking to capture real moments, real stuff,” he said. “Someone could come up and say, ‘I want to make an offer.’ We want to know right away. Then we want to grab and interview them.”

A few feet away, a man resembling a slighter version of the rapper Fat Joe — who identified himself as Pablo Escobar Jr., though the family of the slain drug lord has labeled him a fraud — took in the view, one he said made the price “not bad,” along with his companions. They included Brittany Andrews, a former adult film actress — “I’m a two-time Hall of Fame porn star!” she volunteered — who said she now made mainstream movies and was considering the space as a film location. Later the group attracted attention as they posed for pictures with Richard Garcia, a Tupac Shakur impersonator.

At the end of the night, as the caterers loaded glassware into pink plastic racks and the models had changed out of their designer garb from Edit boutique on the Upper East Side, the Kleiers seemed to be breathing a collective sigh of relief.

“It was horrible weather; I was so nervous when I first got here because I was like, where are the people? Now it’s packed,” Michele Kleier said. “The party is over, and nobody’s leaving. There are still people here, so yes, I’m happy.”

She paused. “I’ll be happier when I sell it.”

When Selling Apartments, Brokers Say That Details Can Open, or Shut, Wallets 

Feb 21, 2011

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Michele Kleier Says an Expensive Shoe Closet is Worth Every Dollar


On a recent Thursday morning, Jamella Swift, a Citi Habitats broker, was trying to anticipate every detail that would prevent a buyer from purchasing the two-bedroom condo she was selling in Bedford-Stuyvesant. She put a full-size bed in the bedroom so buyers wouldn’t think the room was too small. She dragged in a Lucite coffee table to create the illusion of a larger living space and set up three floor lamps to supplement the recessed lighting. Ms. Swift hoped that the $5,000 she had spent would help her land $395,000 to $425,000 for the apartment.

Ms. Swift learned how much details could detract from the value after representing a couple who was ready to buy an apartment for more than $7 million. The apartment had a rainy, musty smell that Ms. Swift thought the selling broker could have fixed by buying a dehumidifier. Ms. Swift’s client backed out.

“It could have been a done deal,” Ms. Swift said. Brokers say small moves can alter the ultimate sales price of an apartment by 5 to 10 percent. The calculations are irrational, and buyers are usually unaware they are doing it. But chipped plaster or broken bathroom tiles can knock $500 to $5,000 off an offer, $1,500 floating walls can add $50,000 to $70,000, and a $10,000 paint job easily adds $50,000 to the price, according to an informal survey of city brokers.

Some more recent examples they provided of real estate math:

Clutter: Subtract 5 to 15 percent. Douglas Heddings, founder of the brokerage Heddings Property Group, watched two West End Avenue apartments that were exactly the same come up for sale at the same time. One apartment, where the sellers cleared out all of their spare toys and books, sold quickly. The second, more cluttered apartment lingered on the market for more than a year and sold for 15 percent less.

Fresh towels and throw pillows: add $25,000. Geraldine Onorato represented a client selling a two-bedroom where the buyers received offers for no more than $450,000. Ms. Onorato spent $700 on a fresh bath mat and fluffy white towels and brought in an offer for $475,000.

Dirty rugs: subtract $5,000. Before Ivy Paterni, an agent with City Connections Realty, brought to market a one-bedroom apartment at 5 Tudor City, she knew buyers would focus on the off-white living room rug that had grayed with time. “Nobody wants to buy a home that at any point in its history was dirty,” Ms. Paterni said. She bought a sandy white $400 rug at Northeast Floor Covering, bought some extra plants and had the seller repaint the apartment neutral cream. She is listing it for $499,000 and estimates that without these changes she would have had to list it for $494,000.

Regrouting tile: add $100,000 (to a $3 million apartment, that is). Deanna Kory, a Corcoran broker, advised the seller of an eight-room apartment in the West 80s to spend a few hundred dollars on regrouting. “If you see a bathroom that needs a lot of grouting, you think it needs to be ripped up,” she said. She estimates that grouting, along with moving around furniture and adding lighting, will bring in at least $100,000 more for a $3 million apartment.

New fixtures and appliances: add $250 in rent. Chris Mercogliano, a local landlord, was shopping for a tenant for his $1,800-a-month two-bedroom apartment at 508 East 78th Street. He spent about $1,600: new outlets and light switches ($100), tiles for the kitchen and dining area ($500), four new light fixtures ($40), blinds for three windows ($75) and a new stainless steel stove, microwave and refrigerator ($1,000). It rented for $2,050 a month.

New lights: add $32,500. Michael Akerly of Rutenberg Realty had been trying to sell his two-bedroom apartment at 15 Broad Street for a year for $949,000. He received an all-cash offer for about $800,000 and a second offer for $885,000. He took it off the market, rented it for a year and paid a professional lighting designer $150 for advice. He spent $2,000 replacing his chandelier and ceiling fan with two large drum lights. In two weeks he had an offer for $917,500.

Replacing cabinets: add $107,000. Frances Katzen was recently selling a one-bedroom apartment in Murray Hill, at 245 East 35th Street, that she advised her client to list for no more than $310,000. After he spent $20,000 on new kitchen cabinets and paint, she listed it for $429,000, and it went to contract for $417,000.

An expensive shoe closet: worth every dollar. Michele Kleier of Gumley Haft Kleier has found that when buyers walk into a closet filled with Christian Louboutins, they are likely to pay more of a premium than what the seller spent on her shoe collection. She advises sellers, “You can buy 25 pairs of designer shoes, put them in your closet, and they’re going to get more than you spent on them.” That’s because, Ms. Kleier said, “people want to step into your life.”

But What Did You Do for Me Today, Developers Ask Brokers 

Aug 02, 2010

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Michele Kleier Talks 995 Fifth


About three years ago, before the demise of Bear Stearns and the collapse of Merrill Lynch, Beth Fisher, a broker with Corcoran Sunshine, was toiling away marketing apartments at the former Stanhope Hotel on Fifth Avenue that had been converted into luxury condominiums. Over time, she helped sell almost all of the 26 apartments for up to $34 million each.

But when the last two high-priced apartments lingered on the market through the recession, the developer, Extell Development, farmed out a $35.5 million listing to one of the city’s top-producing brokers, Carrie Chiang of the Corcoran Group. And when Ms. Chiang did not sell a 16th-floor apartment, Extell slashed the price to $28.5 million, dropped Ms. Chiang and handed the apartment, along with its 15th-floor neighbor, to another high-end broker, Michele Kleier of Gumley Haft Kleier.

Now Ms. Kleier is trying to sell the apartment after it was decorated by a professional designer and she promoted it on the HGTV program “Selling New York” and hosted a cocktail party with top brokers that drew the attention of The New York Post’s Page Six. Ms. Kleier said her efforts helped sell the 15th-floor apartment in March for $21 million, and she was hopeful about the prospects for the one on the 16th floor.

“You have to refocus people’s eyes on a property that has been on the market,” said Ms. Kleier, who worked with Ms. Fisher on the sale. “It goes on the back burner. You have to put it back on the front.”

Here is the fickle and ferocious world of residential real estate. With many developers saddled with multimillion-dollar apartments they planned in more prosperous times, they are dumping brokers who stood by them through the slowdown and are hiring new ones.

Developers treat these moves as purely financial decisions. After all, it is not that different from trying to sell anything expensive, be it a penthouse, a car or an insurance policy: the best sales representatives are brought in to make the toughest sales, regardless of who gets hurt.

Ms. Fisher said diplomatically that she welcomed help from Ms. Kleier and added that her salaried position at Corcoran Sunshine, a division of the Corcoran Group that specializes in new construction, meant that she suffered less financially from Ms. Kleier’s involvement.

Ms. Chiang, who was simply cut from the listing, did not mince words about Extell’s decision.

“The apartment wasn’t ready. It was in shambles. It was priced way higher,” Ms. Chiang said. “I keep on telling him he had to reduce the price.”

Ms. Chiang specializes in guiding wealthy buyers through the glamorous and mundane aspects of purchasing eight-digit homes with indoor swimming pools and 1,000-bottle wine cellars. She specializes in apartments that are 6,000 square feet or larger and sold $500 million in apartments in 2008 before the crash. She is now trying to sell six town houses priced at $14.9 million to $35 million.

Raizy Haas, an Extell senior vice president, said the decision to take the listing from Ms. Chiang was not a criticism of her.

“Sometimes it doesn’t happen, through no fault of hers,” Ms. Haas said.

Lisa Lippman, a Brown Harris Stevens broker who lives with her family in a four-bedroom condominium at Ariel West, one of a pair of tall, glassy Extell buildings at Broadway and 99th Street, was given two exclusive listings in the building even though another brokerage firm was the building’s official sales agent. Ms. Lippman sold a third-floor apartment for $3.9 million and has a contract for a $2.95 million apartment on the 14th floor. Both apartments cater in their size to families.

“I know that market,” Ms. Lippman said. “I have lots of connections from people looking for those apartments through schools.”

When the developer Josh Guberman was ready to start selling apartments at his 12-unit Lux 74 at 433 East 74th Street, he hired the Corcoran Group and Kirk Rundhaug, a broker with the real estate firm Core. After the Corcoran Group sold one apartment after a few months, Mr. Guberman dropped Corcoran because, he said, he thought the apartments might appeal to downtown buyers, which Mr. Rundhaug specializes in.

Mr. Rundhaug, who described the first broker as the project’s first wife and himself as the second wife, sold 10 apartments there.

But unbeknown to Mr. Rundhaug, Mr. Guberman was shopping for a third wife to sell the final apartment: an $8 million town house listing with a swimming pool that would bring a $130,000 commission. Mr. Guberman hired Jacky Teplitzky of Prudential Douglas Elliman to market the property. It sold for $7.6 million.

Mr. Guberman said that “matching the right broker to the right product is the single most important decision any homeowner or developer can make.”

Mr. Rundhaug, who was one of two brokers chosen to sell the hotelier Ian Schrager’s personal penthouse last year, said losing a commission “always hurts.”

“But what I’ve learned in this business,” he said, “is to suck it up and move on to the next thing.”

Two Names On The Isle 

Jul 20, 2010

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Joh Mehigan Tells the Story of Naming Willo Isle


Two Names on the Isle

Plum Island, the federal research laboratory off Long Island, sparks associations withanimal testing, Nelson DeMille murder mysteries and unsettling fans like Hannibal Lecter.

That’s the kind of publicity that the Manhattan real estate broker John Mehigan calls “the kiss of death.” He should know: he was hired to sell a different Plum Island, on Lake Putnam in Patterson, N.Y., near the Connecticut border.

So he persuaded the seller, Larry Plapler, a 76-year-old retired advertising executive who has lived there with his family in a four-bedroom home since 1976, to change the name.

Mr. Plapler happily agreed. He said that a New York city newspaper, The Mirror, built the island in the 1930s, as part of a real estate project, and called it Plum Island. Since then, a succession of owners all called the island Willo-Isle.

Mr. Plapler said a local real estate broker had restored the 1930s name to attract potential buyers.

Under the name Plum Island, however, the island sat on the market for two years.

Having restored the name Willo-Isle, Mr. Mehigan is asking $1.55 million for the island.

Mr. Plapler is sadly preparing to give up his home.

“Whether it’s Plum Island or Willo-Isle,” he said, “it’s a great escape from Manhattan Isle.”

Buying & Selling Manhattan Real Estate in an Age of Marketing 

Jul 06, 2010

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Michele Kleier Describes how Real Estate Marketing has Changed Over the Years


When Michele Kleier wanted to sell a nine-room apartment at 1125 Park Avenue in 1977, her brokerage firm paid for a one-and-a-half-line classified newspaper advertisement that offered the rough location (“Park Ave. — Low 90s”) and succinctly read “Superb condition. Sun filled. Excel. maint.” With that ad, she found a buyer willing to pay $145,000, today’s inflationary equivalent of $522,000.

This spring, when Ms. Kleier wanted to sell her 45th apartment in the same building, she invited 75 brokers to the eight-room apartment for an open house and seafood lunch catered by the Atlantic Grill restaurant. She featured the apartment on the HGTV television program “Selling New York” and paid to have the listing prominently displayed on several influential real estate Web sites.

“Now everybody wants to see the pictures,” Ms. Kleier said. “They want to know all about the building. They want to see everything. Believe me, life was a lot simpler then.” A lot cheaper, too: On Thursday, she closed on the apartment for $4 million.

Although New Yorkers have obsessed, haggled and boasted about Manhattan real estate since its controversial and possibly apocryphal exchange for a handful of beads four centuries ago, it is fair to say that the promotion of Manhattan apartments has exploded over the past few decades.

Yes, there are more apartments to sell since the conversion of thousands of rental apartments to co-ops and the creation of the condominium market. Still, many brokers remember when apartments were bought and sold without a retinue of real estate stagers, photographers and writers fussing over these homes before their appearances on Web sites and television.

“That big marketing and presentation of properties was not done,” said Hall F. Willkie, president of Brown Harris Stevens. “Back in the mid-’80s, in the residential real estate world, people didn’t know how to spell ‘marketing.’ ”

That is partly because residential real estate used to be a far smaller industry. Barbara Corcoran said that when she started her brokerage firm in 1973, she tracked the city’s apartments on 4-by-5-inch handwritten index cards that her brokers kept next to the coffee cart. They organized these cards by color: studios were yellow, one-bedrooms were pink, two-bedrooms were blue, and three-bedroom or larger apartments were orange.

She added that there were far fewer apartments available through her agency, most of them rentals. As a comparison, 262 apartment sales closed in Manhattan in the past three months.

In those days, sales were designed so that brokers had far less incentive to advertise and promote properties. Sellers gave their apartments to multiple brokerage firms because only the broker who delivered the buyer received a commission.

“When you didn’t have an exclusive, you didn’t want to commit resources to it,” said Kirk Henckels, the director of Stribling Private Brokerage. “There’s no certainty you’re going to make money.”

Of course, Manhattan apartments did not carry the profits they carry today.

When Elise Ward, a broker now with the firm Core, started selling TriBeCa lofts to artists in 1981, so few buildings had been renovated or had soundproofing that she used words like “fireproof” and “steel and concrete structure” to mean quiet. Now, selling these apartments to the present-day TriBeCa clientele, she said, requires “several cocktail parties” and “brochures, you name it.”

Even in the late 1980s, when brokers started accepting co-brokerage agreements and investing in advertising, their efforts were far more modest.

In 1989, Pamela Nichols, a broker who now works for Prudential Douglas Elliman, received an exclusive listing to sell a one-bedroom penthouse at 2 Sutton Place South for $725,000 (the equivalent of $1.275 million today). On Oct. 8, 1989, she published a single four-line advertisement and did not provide prospective buyers with photographs before they visited.

“You literally described the apartment to them on the phone,” she said. “Until you met them at the building, they didn’t see anything.”

Now she is reselling the apartment for $1.65 million. After Ms. Nichols put it on the market in April, she drafted a 10-line advertisement, hired a professional photographer, designed a full-color handout and promoted the apartment in luxury publications like a Hamptons magazine.

Ms. Nichols added that in many ways, selling apartments has not changed.

In 2001, when she renovated her Westhampton beach house, she discovered that a past owner had left her a real estate time capsule beneath the porch: perfectly preserved real estate pages from a Nov. 1, 1925, issue of The New York Herald Tribune. Even then, the newspaper included advertisements for buildings like 31 East 79th Street and 1020 Fifth Avenue that emphasized that the apartments offered “every convenience and service luxury.”

“You’re still using the same words,” she marveled. “It’s just the vehicle.”

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Hot Property Book

The stars of HGTV's “Selling New York” let fans step inside the high-profile world of Manhattan real estate in a wild and one-of-a-kind novel of stormy egos, sumptuous homes, and staggering fame and fortune. Written by Michele, Samantha & Sabrina Kleier.