Taking a powder (room)

An extra half-bath becomes the must-have prize for one-bedroom condo buyers

Jun.June 01, 2015 07:00 AM
301 East 50th Street

A rendering of 301 East 50th Street

When CBSK Ironstate’s 29-story condominium at 301 East 50th Street hit the market last spring, one of the fastest-selling lines in the 57-unit tower was comprised of one-bedrooms with one-and-a-half baths.

Demand for the condos, which started at $1.5 million, reflected buyers’ appetite for “affordable luxury,” as well as their craving for an extra half bathroom, a feature that is equal parts luxury and practical these days.

In a market characterized by tighter-than-tight inventory and high prices, brokers said some buyers are willing to pay a premium for an extra half bathroom, particularly if they’re opting for a one-bedroom because they can’t find — or are priced out of — larger units. Meanwhile, developers are delivering new condos with an extra bathroom, both for value-conscious buyers and buyers who expect the luxury of a powder room when shelling out big bucks for a Manhattan pad.

David Gomez Pearlberg

David Gomez Pearlberg

David Gomez Pearlberg, an agent at Town Residential, said that in recent months, he’s seen an uptick in buyers priced out of two-bedrooms who are willing to consider one-bedrooms — as long as it comes with an extra half or full bathroom. 

“People who would have opted for the extra bedroom are rethinking and having to pull back a little bit, because of the reality of what prices are,” he said. “The one thing they don’t want to compromise on is the bath situation. They want to be able to have a separate guest bathroom.”

Similarly, Rutenberg Realty’s Bogna Nasilowska is marketing a one-bedroom, two-bathroom duplex at 126-128 East 16th Street, which is asking $1.25 million. The 1,000-square-foot co-op has a large master bedroom that can be carved into two smaller bedrooms. “It attracts people who are priced out of true two-beds in a great location,” Nasilowska said. She described the master bedroom as “huge” and said, “I’ve seen two-bedrooms with less square footage.”

Still, a half bath isn’t a necessity for most, and most prewar units or one-bedrooms built in the ’50s, ’60s or ’70s simply don’t have them, said Paul Purcell, managing director of William Raveis NYC.

“As for a two-bedroom,” he said, “the value absolutely increases when adding a half bath or a second full bath.” No one wants children or guests using an apartment’s single bathroom, he noted. “What would the increased value be? [I’m] not entirely sure. However, I can say the place would sell faster and have much more interest than with a single bath.”

Paul Purcell William Raveis

Paul Purcell

Overall, one-bedroom apartments accounted for 42 percent of sales in Manhattan during the first quarter, up from 40 percent market share a year earlier, according to real estate appraisal firm Miller Samuel. The median price of one-bedroom apartments was $750,000, up 2.9 percent year-over-year from $729,000.

As the spring selling season kicked off, the longstanding inventory crunch seemed poised to ease somewhat: Manhattan condo inventory jumped 4 percent in April to 3,623 units — of which 930 units were newly listed that month, according to StreetEasy’s monthly condo price index. Meanwhile, condo prices were flat between March and April, the first time in more than two years that prices didn’t increase month to month.

According to Gomez Pearlberg, given a one-bedroom in the $850,000 range, an extra half bath could add $50,000 to $75,000 to the price.

At 540 West, a 110-unit condominium at 540 West 49th Street developed by Fortis Property Group and Wonder Works Construction Corp., a one-bed, one-bath unit is listed for $1.175 million. Meanwhile, a one-bed, two-bath duplex is asking $1.75 million, up from its original price of $1.5 million, said Stephen McArdle, an agent at Halstead Property, who is marketing the apartment.

“Clearly, developers are looking to maximize every square inch,” he said. “To have one-bedrooms, not at the standard 700 square feet, but 1,000 square feet or 1,100 square feet, and put in an extra half bath, it takes foresight that the larger, more luxurious one-bedroom would be really well received in the marketplace.”

In the new development space, it’s increasingly common to see one-bedroom units that include one-and-a-half bathrooms. In addition to 301 East 50th Street, another example is Ziel Feldman’s HFZ Capital Group’s 505 West 19th Street, which currently has six one-bed, one-and-a-half-bath units in contract, for prices between $2.1 million and $2.6 million, according to StreetEasy.

On the leasing front, the Solow Building Company launched a 209-unit luxury rental tower, Two Sutton Place North at 1113 York Avenue, where one-bed, one-and-a-half-bath units start at $3,960 a month.

Bogna Citi Habitats

Bogna Nasilowska

“It’s definitely a niche product and a luxury product,” said Jodi Stasse, managing director of new developments for Citi Habitats, which is marketing Two Sutton Place North. “People that are willing to pay for it really like it,” she said. The building is nearly 50 percent occupied, after leasing launched in December.

But Stasse said renters aren’t always wiling to pay a premium for an extra half bath, whereas condo owners will pay up for that feature. “It creates flexibility in the space, which people investing $1 million-plus in New York City real estate are looking for,” Stasse said. “It lets you keep the master suite private.”


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