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Selling New York: Clients Can Be Annoying, Too!

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

Indecision was the name of the game on last night’s Selling New York, with one buyer considering walking away from his $300K deposit at the Brompton, and another realizing that the sky (or at least a killer view) is not the limit when you have a measly $2.5 million budget. And then there’s the real star of the episode: A shrill Gramercy seller who won’t budge on her asking price. We heretofore believed it impossible, but we actually felt sorry for a CORE broker. Our world is turning upside down!

Subplot #1: Fat dog ruins everything
The Player: Prim and proper GHK director Laurel Rosenbluth
The Mission: Picky buyers Carolyn and Dave found the perfect place?until the co-op board told them their corpulent dog Katie exceeded the 20-pound weight limit. Now the couple needs to find a new apartment, but Carolyn has a wish list that’s “a mile long” and a budget of "only" $2.5 million. Let the search begin!
Stop #1: Off to E. 57th Street we go, where, apparently, grossly overweight dogs are welcome. This $2.695 million three-bedroom has the space, the kitchen and even a balcony off the master. So Carolyn is impressed, right? Wrong! While on the balcony, Carolyn gripes, “The buildings are very close. I feel a little claustrophobic.” Ugh. This is going to be rough.
Stop #2: A frustrated Laurel plays the “be careful what you wish for” card, letting Carolyn fall for a spacious, $2.99 million Chelsea penthouse with windows galore.

Those Empire State Building views are nice and all, but the best part? This building allows obese dogs!
The Plan of Attack: Carolyn wants to put in a $2.5 million bid, while Laurel warns that she only has a prayer if she comes hard with a $2.7 million offer. But Carolyn holds her ground, proving the customer is always right?even when she is wrong.
The Decision: No deal! The sellers laughed at the offer (you would too if even you’re shower had floor-to-ceiling windows) and Carolyn (wisely, we’ll admit) sticks to her budget. But there is a silver lining. We finally get a look at her portly pooch. Look at this fattie!

Subplot #2: Living like Bilbo Baggins in Gramercy
The Player: Leggy CORE agent Maggie Kent
The Mission: Elyse Pasquale, a grating producer of plays and independent films you’ve never heard of, is looking to move her 900-square-foot Gramercy triplex for a tidy $895,000. It has exposed brick out the wazoo, two fireplaces and a fun spiral staircase, so this should be no problem, right?

The Problem: Wrong! The attendees at Maggie’s open house find the floorplan a little kooky (only one bedroom on the third floor???) and the asking price too high. And one more thing: The co-op board says no pets, pied-à-terres or parents buying for children. So Maggie decides it’s time to drop the asking price by 100K or so?
The Catfight: Maggie swings by Elyse’s new penthouse to deliver the news, but Elyse?who we learn is desperate to make a profit to help pay for said fancy new pad?responds, “I feel like putting it down in the sevens is completely devaluing the apartment.” “You’re attached to an old market!” answers a peeved Maggie, leading her sarcastic seller to hiss: “I could sell it tomorrow if I made it $400,000!” We’re still not sure what to make of the face Maggie makes in response.

The Solution: Cooler heads prevail. Maggie recommends that she bring in some pals from CORE, Douglas Elliman and Stribling to give an unbiased opinion. They alternately describe the place as “cute,” “different,” and “Hobbit-like”—and everyone agrees there’s no way this chick should be asking above %800K.
The Decision: After hearing the news, an emotional Elyse finally caves. And though the post-script tells us this led to a contract, we still spy the triplex on CORE’s website, albeit rebranded as being in a rustic Mediterranean-style. (Maybe they should just play up the Shire angle instead?)

Subplot #3: Wishy washy on the UES (Or Tribeca. Or the UWS.)
The Player: GHK heir apparent Sabrina Kleier Morgenstern
The Mission: Bachelor Matthew Pasha has already put down $300K on a unit in Robert A.M. Stern’s luxury condo the Brompton. But prices have dropped since he signed on the dotted line, so Matt’s ready to check out other apartments and, if he finds the right place, eat that deposit.
Stop #1: To 25 Murray Street we go, where Matt checks out the apartment of Michael Strahan, the retired, down-on-his-luck football star who was forced to move back in with his parents and wheelchair-bound brother. (Wait. Maybe that was the plot to his short-lived sitcom Brothers?)

Matt thinks the $1.85 million loft with 15’ ceilings is “the perfect bachelor pad” (don’t remind Strahan), but the views can’t match the Brompton. Plus, as someone who isn’t the NFL’s all-time leading sack leader, should he really leave all that money on the table?
Stop #2: The Rushmore, that gem by the Hudson River that’s home to 41 pissed-off buyers and site of Extell’s fun little battle with Attorney General Cuomo. The pros? This $1.4 million one-bedroom has a bitchin’ cast iron soaking tub and the building has a pool and screening room. The cons? There are no bars or restaurants nearby, causing Matt to utter the words that still make us and probably a few English professors shudder: “I might rather we go back to the Upper East Side and look over there.”
Stop #3: Our marathon tour around Manhattan takes us to the Upper East Side and a charming little pad with an open kitchen, second bedroom and?suburb alert!?this heinous bathroom.

Yet again, our buyer says he’s going to crunch the numbers and give it some thought, while a deadpan Sabrina confides to the camera, “If Matthew wants to see more properties?I’m afraid it might confuse him even further.”
The Decision: After all that, Matt’s staying put. Over an awkward glass of champagne with Sabrina to toast his, well, not really doing anything, we learn that the Brompton was just too well appointed for Matt to walk away. Aww?we’re suckers for a kind-of-happy ending.

Episode grade: 4/5 cackling Kleiers!

· Selling New York [HGTV]
· Selling New York coverage [Curbed]