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Wednesday, March 12, 2014

My Jackson Heights Apartment Is in NY Times - The Hunt


NY Times "The Hunt" covered a couple's move from Astoria to Jackson Heights – and I'm in it! 

Don't blink or you might miss the reference: 

"Early in their hunt, [the couple] saw a nice two-bedroom at an open house at Carlton House, a 1946 brick co-op building. ...Another two-bedroom on a higher floor, not as nice, was listed at $279,000. They disliked the wall of mirrors in the living room. ...The place they liked sold for $416,000, and the place they didn’t for $265,000.)" 

The "not-as-nice" apartment they disliked so much, due to the "wall of mirrors" is mine! 

It's the 1,000+ sq ft. 2-BR in Jackson Heights that I snapped up for $265k. Remember my article that Brownstoner Queens picked up last summer: Carroll Gardens Blogger Gives up Her Neighborhood for…Queens. I did say that I was looking for a bargain, and I got one.

Admittedly, it was a diamond in the rough.



Offending wall of mirrors is to the far left!
Here is a more head-on, albeit dark view (sorry, taken with my phone).


Shall we dance?
Here's how I turned that ugly wall of mirrors into a wall of books: Built-In Bookcases: An Ikea Hack.


Problem fixed, for less than $800.

Though I ripped it out immediately, I adore that wall of mirrors! Because I have it to thank for the incredible bargain that I got. 

The Carlton is an as-good-as-full-service building, with on-staff porters, a night-time doorman, and a live-in super, plus $100 a month parking. And the layout is gracious. Here's the floorplan of the apartments in our line:



Cosmetic issues put off prospective buyers. The mirrored walls were outdated and their cracked condition was an eyesore. The apartment was newly painted, but in a bland yellow that already seemed dingy. The floors were scarred by pet damage, and security gates and air conditioner units blocked nearly every window's view. The recent bathroom and kitchen upgrades were done on the cheap, and the installation lacked finesse and attention to detail. For example, fixtures were off center and the bathtub had been installed backwards – with the backrest under the faucets. 



These kinds of issues scare most buyers. I understand how off-putting renovation work seems to most people. Many prefer a home in move-in condition. I, on the other hand, would rather find something under-valued and put my own stamp on it. 

When I was house hunting, I did exactly the opposite of the NY Times couple. I looked at the more expensive unit first, fell in love with the building and the layout of that particular line, then began trolling StreetEasy for a bargain. I found our unit in contract at $275k (so much less!) and emailed the broker to let her know that, should her contract fall through, I was interested, serious and could move quickly. Lo and behold, that is exactly what happened. By the time I was in negotiations, the place had been on the market for more than six months. This and the cosmetic faults that deterred other buyers put me in a good bargaining position.

And here we are. With the help of my go-to contractor Henry Almeida of Almeida Renovations in Kew Gardens, a real collaborator with whom I've worked on several past projects, I'll restore this home to it's gracious midcentury beauty. The home has, as they say in home show vernacular, good bones. As do almost all buildings in Jackson Heights.

I just can't stop evangelizing Jackson Heights! If you are a prospective buyer, there are amazing deals to be had. Don't be turned off by cosmetic imperfections; seek them out! 

UPDATE: 

The bathroom is finished! 





See full Bathroom Reveal.

See full House Tour.