Home Planning & Renovations

NYC Fixer Upper

By Tiffany Smolick


The Fixer Upper: Coveted?

July 24, 2013

Manhattan real estate has long had a reputation for being cut-throat. For years anecdotes of secret “key money” – large sums of money paid to an apartment owner just to be granted the privilege to pay his or her asking price on the property – have swirled, creating a fabled terrain for those wishing to buy in Manhattan to navigate. Many a Manhattanite has “settled”, accepting less desirable standards than they had hoped for at a higher price than they’d hoped to have paid just to get into particular neighborhoods, particular buildings, or particular types of properties.

In recent years, however, a new trend has emerged in Manhattan real estate. Many homeowners are buying what could easily be called wrecks and are turning them into the homesteads that they dreamed of finding. Staggeringly low sale prices are coupled with large investments in remodeling, allowing these new homeowners to perfect the space and create exactly what they want out of it.

What is causing this trend? Many real estate agents are reporting that a market that is not ripe with the types of things that many Manhattan home buyers dream of is feeding this trend. What types of things are these brave new Manhattan owners after?

It’s nothing new to hear of Manhattanites living in small, cramped spaces. However, as many fairly sizable apartments that have been inhabited by the same tenants for the better part of a century free up, there are actually homes in the city that have substantial space. The problem is that most of these homes have, as mentioned, been occupied by one tenant for decades. Therefore, these homes are often in disrepair and are, at the very least, in need of a great deal of updating.

There are many different reasons why a homeowner may want to move to a particular neighborhood in the city. Social circles, vicinity to work or transportation, and school districts are all major motivators when it comes to where one wants to live. However, the most sought neighborhoods are often also the most expensive. Buying a fixer-upper in a high-demand area gives the homeowner the opportunity to get into their desired area at a great rate. Substantial remodeling and updating mean that for the same amount of money in the long run, homeowners are able to buy in the location they want and achieve the space that they desire within it.

Of course, price is a huge motivator when it comes to taking on the adventure that is buying a fixer-upper. However, although less money is required upfront for the purchase of the actual apartment or house, it’s not as though homeowners who embark on such journeys are left without costs. Remodeling and updating can be a major undertaking, particularly in older buildings where structural or electric issues may exist. Nevertheless, if you have the heart and energy for it, buying a fixer-upper may cost you about the same amount as a turnkey property would but with the benefit of the space being totally customized to your desires.

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