Brokers spend their days showing soon-to-be buyers a place of residence that checks off every box on their sizable wish list, whether they require enough servants’ quarters to handle about half of a Downton Abbey-sized staff or a master suite with a dressing room as big as a living room. Brokers hope, obviously, that once inside, the client will somehow send out telepathic signals that at last, they’ve found “the one.”
But what about the brokers’ own hopes and dreams? After all, everyone has a bucket list when it comes to living quarters.
Brokers can experience their very own “dream home” epiphany–but drop back down to earth because it is simply unaffordable. That’s what recently happened to Leonard Steinberg, the president of Urban Compass. After meeting the seller of a 5,518-square-foot, five-story townhouse with five bedrooms at 763 Greenwich Street in the West Village, he was smitten. A 19th century home with an elevator, it was purchased by actor Keifer Sutherland in 2008 and then sold in 2012, racking up a $9.3 million profit less than 24 hours after it hit the market. The current owners, who updated the house despite the gut renovation by Architectural Digest 100 architect Steven Gambrel just prior to their purchase, have put it back on the market for $20 million–down $2 million from their original asking price.
“Everything about it, even the location, is perfection,” said Mr. Steinberg. “Unfortunately, I’d have to work another 200 years or win a lottery to buy it for myself.” Among Mr. Steinberg’s most favorite features are the 21-foot high ceilings and crown moldings, the soaring ceilings and casement windows, the arched doorways, the wide-plank wood floors, multiple fireplaces (including those in the kitchen and most of the bedrooms), the garden, and the roof deck’s outdoor kitchen.
Another “dreamer” in love with a currently available 19th century, five-story brownstone way beyond her means is Brown Harris Stevens broker Maria Ryan, who, incidentally, also practiced law as a prosecutor for the Bronx District Attorney’s Office. On tree-lined President Street in Park Slope, with over 5,000 square feet of living space, it still retains original details such as millwork, pocket shuttered windows, a pier mirror (a super-high mirror designed to occupy wall space between windows), a massive wood mantel with a built-in full size mirror, and huge bay windows everywhere you look.
“I love the stained glass skylight in the kitchen and four other skylights on the fourth floor… and that an entire floor is devoted to the master suite,” said Ms. Ryan. “My family’s home life revolves around the kitchen, and this house has one that can easily seat ten people, making it a perfect house for cooking and entertaining. And the garden gets tons of sun, too. Right now, it’s a two-family house that can easily reconfigure to a one-family house, but my husband and I love the idea of benefitting from a high rental income. Alas, while it’s nice to dream of a house with lots of room, I’m afraid $5.25 million is a bit out of our range.”
A current unit for sale at 456 West 19th Street, via TOWN
TOWN Residential broker Jarrod Guy Randolph’s one-year-ago encounter with his dream home was slightly different. Representing the seller, Mr. Randolph knew it hit all the marks on his wish list when he saw the 1,129-square-foot, one-bedroom loft duplex at 456 West 19th Street in Chelsea for the very first time.
“First of all, this LEED-certified building was developed and designed by Cary Tamarkin, and I’ve always been a huge fan of his work,” said Mr. Randolph. “Though the building was a new build, it really had all the markings of a commercial conversion, given the 20-foot-high ceilings and the enormously oversized casement windows… and the location was positively perfect. The problem was that I really needed two bedrooms and no matter how many times we tried to convert the space, it just wouldn’t work. Trust me, if that unit had two bedrooms, I’d be living there now.
The takeaway? Everyone on the planet is searching for the house of his or her dreams.