Tales of lust, celebrity can draw in buyers

Colorful history of listings help them stand out

Mar.March 12, 2015 06:00 PM

In a hyper-competitive market, property owners and brokers have found a way to boost a listing’s profile – milking the oft-fascinating, occasionally lewd histories of their properties for all they’re worth.

Buyers “eat up a good story,” broker Jed Garfield of Leslie J. Garfield & Co. told the New York Daily News, and that means finding any tidbits about a property that make it “seem more interesting” or would make “for good cocktail conversation.”

Things that can work: secret affairs, former celebrity owners, and even moments of historical significance, according to the newspaper.

The seller of a building at 33 East 94th Street, for example, recently highlighted the fact that it belonged to Alfred Wertheimer, a photographer notable for shooting Elvis Presley before he became Elvis.

The owners of a townhouse at 66 Morton St. in the West Village, meanwhile, touted the property’s film work. It served as the fictional homes of Harrison Ford in “Working Girl,” Matthew Broderick in “The Night We Never Met” and Winona Ryder in “Autumn in New York.”

Such distinctions help listings stand out and offer “a kick and a half for buyers,” Town Residential broker Beverly Cole told the Daily News.

One of Cole’s listings was a 140–year-old brownstone at 132 East 62nd Street with a rich literary history. The owner, keen for buyers to know about the property’s past, even commissioned a book on the lives of former residents and guests.

The book took months to complete – requiring interviews with historians and access to old public records and newspaper clippings. It detailed how the home was purchased in 1941 by Random House co-founder Bennett Cerf and his wife Phyllis Fraser Cerf – who hosted celebrities like Frank Sinatra, Judy Garland, Truman Capote and William Faulkner at the property.

“People that like the house are usually people that want to entertain and want to have those conversations,” Cole said. “It’s everything that they can repeat to their friends.” [NYDN]TRD

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