Narrow townhouses can be a tough sell

Since many townhouse buyers insist on properties at least 20 feet wide, narrower homes can be difficult to sell, brokers told New York magazine. “The challenge is getting people through the door,” said Nan Shipley of Rand Realty, who is currently marketing a four-bedroom, 15-foot-wide Townhouse On West 95th Street. Jed Garfield, whose firm Leslie J. Garfield & Co. specializes in brownstones and townhouses, said he has never heard anyone say that they want a smaller house. “People almost always end up there by default,” he said.

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According to appraiser Jonathan Miller of Miller Samuel, narrower houses are rapidly losing market share. Five years ago, houses 16 feet wide or less accounted for 25.9 percent of townhouse sales; in 2010 (as of Dec. 15), they constituted just 16.2 percent. Townhouses that are from 17 to 19 feet wide dropped to 33.8 percent of sales in 2010 from 37.4 percent of sales in 2005. The average square footage of houses sold in Manhattan has been rising every year since 2007. However, Garfield added, smaller homes may not necessarily be a bad place to live. “The challenges are, really, 100 percent a mental thing,” he said. “Quite frankly, narrower townhouses tend to be better laid out.” [NY Mag]