Forget the art of the deal. Given the high costs and rabid competition for NYC real estate, this is just a plain old, flat-out great deal: A 2-bedroom co-op in Hamilton Heights for $312,000, with just $635 in monthly maintenance costs.
The only catch for the apartment, which is located at 601 W. 138th Street, is that there are income restrictions on who can buy it. This co-op is in a Housing Development Fund Corporation building, which is a class of co-ops and apartment buildings in NYC where, in years past, tenants were allowed to buy shares in a building and form a cooperative group in order to wrest control of the building from derelict landlords. The rules that govern selling “shares” (your apartment) in an HDFC co-op place limits on income and also require pretty hefty flip taxes. In the case of this building, which was converted in the 1990s and remodeled in 2008, buyers are restricted to 120 percent of NYC’s median gross income.
That means buyers for this 2-bedroom must have earnings of no more than $72,500 for a single person; $82,920 for two people; $93,240 for three-person family and $103,560 for four people. There is no limit on the amount of assets a buyer can have. But, of course, buyers will have to be approved by the building’s co-op board.
If this seems confusing, the listing real estate agents for the property, Kyle Egan and Marc Aschoff of Nest Seekers, were unfazed. In fact, they said they realized that if they marketed this co-op the way pricier apartments are marketed, the co-op would attract a slew of interest. And it would be a fun project.
Turns out Egan and Aschoff were right. As soon as Aschoff pushed the button to publish the listing this week, his email inbox started getting requests for showings.
“It was 5 a.m. I had just posted the listing. It was literally within seconds,” Aschoff said.
When it comes to income-restricted apartments, there’s often a learning curve for everyone involved: Sellers, brokers and buyers. But Egan and Aschoff have embraced this process. This listing had sat on the market with a previous broker. What seems to be a common issue with income-restricted properties is that listings are short on salesmanship, resorting to merely listing the income requirements. What the Nest Seeker tandem has done is different.
“We decided this needed a different strategy, given the price point and the HDFC restrictions. This is not an investment opportunity. And the price is set in part because the owners have to pay a 30 percent flip tax,” Egan said, adding: “Instead of being suspect about what income requirements mean or what this property is about, we wanted to make it fun. We wanted to generate attention and do things different: Order good photos to be taken of the place, market it on Facebook to a demographic that would be a good fit. There are a lot of people out there who don’t even know this kind of apartment exists.”
So far, so good. The pair have been inundated with requests for showings. Some of those calling or emailing may or may not understand about income restrictions. However, given the salary limits, which are pretty strong for NYC, this Hamilton Heights offering could be a fit for more potential buyers than other HDFC income restricted properties where salary limits are in the $30K or $40K range.
An open house is scheduled for Oct. 23 at noon. Prospective buyers ought to be impressed and not just with the price. This second-floor co-op is a prewar, limestone building and contains only 20 other units. The bedrooms are split, for some privacy, and the kitchen has been updated. Better yet: The subway is about 350 feet from the front door, making a downtown commute easy via that A,B, C and D trains. Meanwhile, students or medical professionals will find City College, New York Presbyterian Hospital, and Columbia University within blocks of this location, as are running paths along the Hudson and at Riverbank State Park.