Monday, December 07, 2009

What home price collapse? "Manhattan micro-studio: Only $150k, plus $700/mo." 

Zaarath and Christopher Prokop -- and their two cats -- live in the smallest apartment in the city, a 175-square-foot "microstudio" in Morningside Heights the couple bought three months ago for $150,000.
Well, they waited to time the market bottom just right!
At 14.9 feet long and 10 feet wide ... to the Prokops, it's a castle.

When you first see it, the first thing you say is, 'Holy crap, this place is small,' " said Zaarath, 37, an accountant for liquor company Remy Martin. "But when I saw it, all I could think of is, I can do something with this. This is perfect for us. We love it."

The co-op is on the 16th floor of a doorman building on 110th Street, between Broadway and Amsterdam Avenue. But it's only accessible by a staircase on the 15th floor...
"I'm amazed we can fit two people and two cats in there," Zaarath said. "But it's harmonious at this point ... It's a good thing we like each other"...

The couple wakes up every morning in their queen-size bed, which takes up one-third of the living space.

They then walk five feet toward the tiny kitchen, where they pull out their workout clothes, which are folded neatly in two cabinets above the sink ...

"We don't cook," Zaarath said, adding that their fridge never has any food in it. "So when you don't cook, you don't need plates or pots or pans. So we use that space for our clothes."

They then jog to their jobs in Midtown, picking up along the way their work clothes, which are "strategically stashed at various dry cleaners."

"It's a great strategy, you always have fresh things to wear." Just in case the cleaners are closed, both have emergency clothes at their offices...

They don't have a trash can. The second something needs to be thrown out, they walk to the chute in the hallway ... Their bathroom -- about 3 by 9 feet -- has a small pedestal sink with mirror, and a stand-alone shower.

Real-estate broker Steven Goldschmidt, senior vice president of Warburg Realty, showed the Prokops the apartment, which used to be one of about nine maid's quarters in the prewar building.

"We converted eight of them into four apartments," Goldschmidt said, with each apartment going for a little less than a half-million dollars.

"But we could not configure that one room within any of the floor plans we were looking at without spending oodles of money. So I came up with the idea to just make it the smallest apartment and see how it goes ... It was not on the market all that long," he said. "And the Prokops made us a great offer, and that's it."

The couple will pay off their mortgage in two years, when they plan to remodel some of the apartment, adding a Murphy bed and larger windows.

They will then be saddled only with their maintenance fee, which is just over $700 a month... [NY Post]
That $700 a month is equivalent to the payment on another $130,000 mortgage (and largely services a separate mortgage on the whole building).

So the four "double" versions of these pre-World War II apartments (two maid's quarters put together) -- that sold for near $500,000 plus an equivalently larger monthly maintenance fee -- each sold for about as much as Detroit's 34-year old, 80,000 seat Silverdome...

... just auctioned off for $583,000, with 127 adjacent acres thrown in.

All real estate markets are local.