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Buying an NYC Apartment: Location vs. View?

Location, Location, Location. This is the mantra that every single agent uses in the buying process. And there’s a reason: no matter how bad the real estate market is, when you buy with location in mind, the property will always hold its value. When you buy in the wrong location, however, it’s an uphill battle. You can change the structure, remodel the place or alter the home’s layout but, in most cases, you cannot move it to a different address.

View from The Atelier

View from The Atelier (Photo: Courtesy of The Atelier)

In New York City there are a couple of ways to gauge a good location:

Nearness to major, popular city attractions, like Central Park. For example, 15 Central Park West, which has never gone down on price, has Central Park views, and is (bingo!) located across from Central Park. Consider Soho’s 40 Bond; It’s one of the most iconic buildings in the neighborhood, and it sells for $5,000 per foot — no views. Of course, if you have location and view together, then you’ve really got a winner.

Consider school districts, as well, to gauge a good location — even if you don’t have children as the people you may need to sell it to next may have them. I had customers that would only buy in the PS6 school district, widely considered one of the best public schools in NYC. That kind of demand can push up sales prices across a neighborhood.

Then there’s view, and what home owner doesn’t love a good view?  On the plus side, if an apartment has an amazing view, the apartment will look bigger than a similarly sized space without a view. There are, as well, some people that only want views, and don’t care about location. They need to see the sky, bridges and water and don’t mind a 10-block schlep to the subway. As a real estate agent, however, I’ve never heard someone saying Views, Views, Views.

There are some general principals to contend with. Gorgeous views aside, you’ll always make more money on an apartment in a good neighborhood but with a crappy view than on an apartment in a bad neighborhood with a never-ending skyline vista. I remember during a recent real estate downturn, there was a new development in the 60s on Madison Avenue, and even though each room was facing a wall, the properties were still selling for $2,000 per foot. On Madison Avenue, at least, it seems location will always trump view.