Manhattan Real Estate Market Oddities

Although I have lived on the island of Manhattan since 1989, I’m still sometimes baffled at some of the idiosyncrasies of our local real estate market.  The lack of a multiple listing service, the housing stock consisting of 75% cooperative housing, and of course the behavior of prices that seems to be completely unique to Manhattan.  Case in point, Josh Barbanel’s piece in this past Sunday’s New York Times, A Repository for the Rich reveals the $801,000 purchase price for a basement storage space in the world renowned Dakota at 1 West 72nd Street.

The storage room is situated on a basement corridor and has a locked door, four bare walls, electricity and a half-bath, but is uninhabitable and costs more than the average price for a one-bedroom apartment in Manhattan last year.

But at the Dakota, basement storage spaces for those old papers, sleds, college textbooks, strollers and out-of-favor artwork are hard to find. When the word was circulating that a storage locker would be sold to the highest bidder among the building’s residents, there were bids from at least eight co-op owners, including a representative of Yoko Ono, who maintains a home in the building, according to a person briefed on the sale.

The winning bidder was John M. Angelo, a hedge fund manager and the chief executive of Angelo, Gordon & Company, and a member of the board of Sotheby’s. He has assembled several co-op units into a sprawling apartment on the second floor of the Dakota.

Certainly this seems like an exorbitant amount of money to pay for a windowless room for storage, but when compared to the purchase prices of homes in the Dakota and the overall lack of storage in the neighborhood, $801,000 makes perfectly good sense to me for the luxury of traveling only to your basement to fetch a family heirloom, antique, or piece of art to brighten up your 5000 square foot home.  After all, it’s what single family homeowners do all the time.

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