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The $500,000 Starter Home; Hunting for a New Development Buy

1) $500,000 seems to be the new magic number for "comfortable entry level" homes in Manhattan. Like apartment 11EE at 817 West End Avenue, a 550-square-foot one-bedroom that's asking $499,000. (The Hudson River view is "a million-dollar view, but we're not charging a million dollars for the apartment," says the broker. Ba-dum-ching!) But, of course, buyers looking in the other boroughs will find more space for the same price. ['Got 500,000 Clams? The City is Your Oyster']

2) The Edge isn't the only building giving away a free lease as a contest prize. An America's Next Top Model contestant won a six-month lease at 240 Central Park South, and now the Gotham Organization will be giving away a free one-year lease at Atlas New York. But it's going to the winner of Project Runway's eighth season, so don't tear up that rent check. [Big Deal/'Model Apartments']

3) After enduring a few older apartment malfunctions (and a breakup), this week's hunter zeroed in on new developments in Brooklyn. He liked quirky, but chose a 900-square-foot one-bedroom in Fort Greene's Classic in the hope of higher resale value (and because it had lots of electrical outlets). He paid $525,000 and?listen up, new development buyers!?negotiated the right to delay his closing without a fee and to back out if his developer postponed closing for too long. [The Hunt/'Plugged In and Happy']
4) New Jersey new developments' latest amenity: matchmaking! At buildings like Jersey City's the Saffron, the goal is to create community through, uh, a laundry room with supersized washers so people can socialize when they have more laundry than can fit in their in-unit machines. Sometimes, romance blossoms, and a couple will move from two one-bedrooms into a two-bedroom. All together now: awww! [In the Region/'In New Jersey, Amenities Help Break the Ice']

5) This week's Habitats column is an episode of Gentrification Watch: Noho edition. When writer Joel Hinman first moved into his apartment at 640 Broadway, he could look out the window and see orgies taking place across the street. Now, he, his wife, and his one-year-old son pay $1,297/month for the 2,500-square-foot pad, which has a pastel-colored nursery and a kitchen with magnetized spice jars. [Habitats/'The Domestication of a Dive']

6) One more piece of evidence for the market Pollyannas: the $23.98 million sale of a penthouse at the UWS's Park Laurel. It was listed for $28 million and went into contract after two months for $2,700/square foot. Take that, recession! [Big Deal/'Atop the Market']

The Park Laurel

15 West 63rd Street, New York, New York