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Selling New York: Proving the Theory of Intelligent Design

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Last night was another episode of Selling New York, HGTV's reality show shadowing agents from Manhattan brokerages CORE and Gumley Haft Kleier as they try to sell fabulous properties fabulously. Here, our recap of how the NYC real estate industry is portrayed to the world...

After the swanky antics of the premiere episode and the quiet disappointments of last week, the latest chapter of SNY settled into a nice groove. We followed CORE's Kirk Rundhaug as he oversaw the staging of a raw Chelsea penthouse. We tagged along with Sabrina Kleier Morgenstern as her client pooh-poohed an under-construction $10 million Upper West Side condo, until getting a look at the furnished model. And best of all, we had the buddy comedy of Samantha Kleier Forbes and Indashio, who's seeking a larger rental for his growing empire.

Notable properties featured: Modern 23 (above), 535 West End Avenue

Deals made: 1!

Celebrities name-dropped: 0! And so begins the era of restraint.

Opening sequence: The Kleier women going over their itinerary ... while at the salon. Did they take our shot at their conference room personally?

Time it took to make the Hotel Chelsea Blog's head explode (had it been watching): 2:19, at which point broker Kirk Rundhaug had this to say about a penthouse at Modern 23 while a montage of local Chelsea landmarks played on screen: "This is Chelsea. This is it. This is what's going on in Manhattan right now. People who lived uptown, they want to move downtown. So it needs to be hip, and cool, and chic."

The Superfluous Wearing of Hardhats Award: Given to Sabrina Kleier Morgenstern and her client (known here on out as "lawyer lady") for their tour of a 5BR, 4.5BA, $9.25 million half-floor unit at 535 West End Avenue. Maybe they were afraid of an errant Sub-Zero falling on their heads?

Stager bits of genius: "The big problem with this unit at Modern 23 right now is getting the cold out. How do you accentuate the beautiful modern architecture but have it feel warm and abiding? That's the big problem."?staging designer Laurie Messman, clearly not concerned with a $4.75 million asking price on 23rd Street. For the curious, the listing has photos of the staged unit.

Broker bits of genius: "It's such a quintessential Upper West Side exposure!"?Sabrina Kleier Morgenstern

WTF Moment: That's the kitchen at 535 West End Avenue?! Oh, it's just the temporary setup for the C of O inspection. Phew! Either way, lawyer lady was not having that.

Made for TV moment: When lawyer lady expresses that she just can't get into the spirit of the 535 West End Ave. apartment because it's not finished, Sabrina Kleier Morgenstern points out that a similar unit is about to be staged up the wazoo, so they can come back to check it out. Talk about perfect timing!

More proof that developers are the enemy: When the Modern 23 penthouse is in the mid-stage phase, in comes broker Kirk Rundhaug to tell the designer that the developer wants an open house in?ruh roh!?two days. Is there ever a time on this show when a developer, or anybody else for that matter, tells everyone to just take their time?

Ladies and gentlemen, Indashio: He's a fashion designer and reality TV veteran. He's outgrowing his space. He needs to find something amazing and fabulous, like, yesterday. He's looking for a bigger and better rental apartment for his growing fashion empire. He's got a two-bed, two-bath live/work place but he wants something more downtown and grandioso. He wants room for his studio. He wants a high floor. He wants huge windows. A private terrace. A doorman, of course. He has a budget of $10,000 per month. No wait, $15,000 per month. He is Indashio, and he is amazing.

The moment we felt most poor: Samantha Kleier Forbes on showing Indashio a fifth-floor Nolita rental: "It's below our budget because of the walk-up, so there's obviously a discount built in." Price after that walk-up discount? $7,500 per month. (To be fair, the place did have an indoor/outdoor fireplace.)

Outdoor shower alert!: But does it beat BLUE?

Client bits of genius: "I could never ask one of my celebrity clients to climb all those stairs. Ever. They wouldn't do it."?Indashio

Cue the sad trombone: On-screen postscript: "After five more tours, Iris wanted to return to 535 West End Avenue but the apartment had been sold." To which every viewer not in New York instantly shouted at the screen, "And it cost how much!?" Hey, that's the Big Apple, baby! Check out the floorplan porn.

Indashio's new real estate metric for Soho lofts: Cartwheels per square foot! Wheeee!

Bonus WTF Moment: The woman who signed a contract on the Modern 23 penthouse claims to have seen 300 apartments during a five-year apartment hunt?and a paint-by-numbers piece of glassy building-boom luxury is what finally did the trick? At least she got over 20% off the asking price by paying cash (though the sale hasn't closed yet, so we can't confirm the $3.75 million deal).

Final thought: So what lessons did we learn this week? That a staged unit will always appeal to a buyer more than an empty one. That black people can still be interested in a building known for its kosher kitchens. That a publicity-hungry fashion designer who ends up extending his lease might not have been so genuinely interested in $10-$15k rentals in the first place. Oh Indashio, we already miss you.
· Selling New York [HGTV]
· Selling New York coverage [Curbed]