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Selling New York Episode 5: Acceptance is the Final Stage

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Every Thursday night, HGTV's Selling New York rides along with boutique brokerages CORE, Gumley Haft Kleier and Warburg as they try to sell fabulous properties fabulously. Here, our recap of how the NYC real estate industry is portrayed to the world, penned by Molly Reisner.

This week's episode of Selling New York was all about struggling with the difficult decision of leaving one's comfort zone for greener pastures. Oh, and maniacal laughter, as hinted in the above photo. First up, emotions were tugged when a broker, despite her likely feelings of abandonment and betrayal, helps her BFF find a (audible gasp!) suburban home suitable for a "modern family," which we take it means a sultry Latina and Al Bundy. Over in Plot #2, another broker does her darndest (aka use mind control) to get her dissatisfied client to fall back in lust with the Financial District bachelor pad he recently purchased. But no longer wants!

Will a friendship forged in the city survive a move to Larchmont? Will a broker court-order her client to move into his unloved apartment? Will we see insanely beautiful dwellings and start to question our own life choices? Climb aboard the Cyclone of emotions that is today's recap!


We kick it off this week with the Fabulous Kleier Sisters (finally?where have they been this season?), Sabrina Kleier-Morgenstern and Samantha Kleier-Forbes, trotting past the New York Public Library with perfectly faux-tanned legs.

In a sea of sneakers, these ladies know how to up the ante. So! During sister goss time, Sam tells Sabrina that she just got a contract signed on her best friend Rachael's apartment. And now she needs to find buyer, bestie, and Elle editor-at-large Rachael Combe, a new home. After already showing her beacoup de apartments with no winners, Sam has a sad feeling that her friend is leaning towards the ultimate FU to NYC. Plunging the knife of reality in deeper, Sabrina reacts by saying "Nooo, we're gonna lose her to the suburbs?" Sam, using humor to hide her pain, quips "Contrary to what we think, the suburbs aren't the moon." She's right, cuz the moon is the moon!

But Sam hangs onto a small shredling of hope that Rachael has only 99.9% made up her mind. Perchance the apartment she's going to show her at the Ariel West on the Upper Upper West Side (isn't that practically the suburbs already?) will inspire her to be a Manhattan Mom 4 Life? The ladies take a gander at the 2,349-square-foot 4 bed/3 bath city palace. With a recent $300,000 (whew!) price drop, the unit is listed for $2.95 million.

Take a peek:

Yet not even those 10-foot ceilings can contain Rachael's dreams of blissful domesticity. Because, dangit, the woman wants a private yard with a giant playset. She wants stairs and possibly an attic! Ladies and gents, she WANTS THE KIND OF HOME SHE GREW UP IN. We're talking hard-core upper class 'burbs, and nothing else will do. Rachael tells us this next move is "definitely a last chance for Manhattan," but we know, and Sam well knows, that her words are disintegrating faster than cotton candy in dirty, urban snow. Goodbye NYC, hello not NYC!

Next we see the BF(Forever?) in picturesque Larchmont, just a MetroNorth ride away. Rachael is excited about what this town has to offer, including these non-toxic splashing grounds for her kids to romp about:

Sam explains that she doesn't have Westchester cred (the moon, remember?), so she must pawn off Rachel to a local broker from Houlihan Lawrence. Our first stop on the Larchmont Grand Homes Express takes us to an 1887 Victorian estate.

The American dream personified...if the house were a person. She looks like a Mabel, no?

Westchester broker Katie leads the seemingly cheerful yet silently drifting apart friends through 3,300 square feet of another era. This old-but-updated goodie (hey, swimming pool!) features 5 beds/3+ baths and an abundance of beautiful design. It's listed for $2.275 million, but if we can just get time travel to work we could zap on back to 1887 and buy it for $94,280.97! What the H, inflation?

Imagine all the silent treatments that went down here:

Is this the house where Rachael sees her family settling into for the next two decades? In a word with two letters, no. After the tour, overwhelmed by the largesse of the property, Rachael breathlessly says "2.7 million is like a 2 bedroom in the city and now I don't know if I can manage all this!" OK, what's this lady's deal? Oh, married to an i-banker. Got it. Katie and Sam (with fingers crossed in double jinx position) assure her they will find her a home, sweet, home.

It's moment of truth time as the pals amble through the charming town center. Rachael freakin' finally admits that she wants to be a Larchmontian. Sam brave-smiles, telling us she selfishly wishes her friend of four years didn't want to ditch Manhattan, but is also happy (riyeeet) for her happiness. OK, I kinda believe her. Sniffles! What clinched Rachael's decision?

Fancy cookies!

A quick wardrobe change later into ruffled skirts, Rachael and Sam head on over to Dreamhouse #2:

It's so...suburban! And a hundred-odd-years newer than the first one. Katie ushers the gals inside the 3200sqft 4 bed/4 bath mini-manse for a whirl around the space, urging them to "Look!" at:

1) the wainscoting
2) the skylights
3) the ginormous fridge
4) the general splendor

No doubt the house is a looker:

Sam exclaims that "the bathtub looks like it's floating in space!" Well, we are on the moon! Outside on the veranda, Katie coquettishly cocks her head and asks Rachael, "So, what do you think pretty girl?" Meow, Katie! Flattery must work because...surprise-us-not, Rachael is completely enamored with the move-in ready "modern family" masterpiece. Plus it's meant to be - her skirt matches the shingles!

And Katie is downright almost invisible with her pitch-perfect sand tones.

We all know purdy faces don't come cheap, and the tag on this babe is $2.195 million. Rachael doesn't flinch at this number and is eager to make an offer. "We need to get Orlando out here pronto!" Orlando being the hubby whose career makes him too important to be seen on reality TV. Katie suggests Rachael come in at $1.95 or $1.9 to let the owner "know you mean business," but it also leaves some room to negotiate.

In the final scene, we learn that all of Rachael's fantasies have come true and she got the house (for an undisclosed sum). The first order of business was installing this:

Pretty sure that's the size of my apartment. Outside, Rachael and Sam celebrate the new house with some rosé. The mood is mixed as Sam lets us know for the zillionth time that she must really love Rachael to assist in her move out of the city. "Maybe one day they'll move back," she kids herself. Rachael gets a wee wistful about the transition but can't hide the fact that Larchmont feels like Shangri-La. More like Shangri-Larchmont! A text bubble pops up, informing us that Sam scored a $23,940 referral fee from the deal. She hands a Statue of Liberty figurine to her former friend to remind her of the Big Apple. It likely did not cost $23,940.


The second story from last night's psychodrama catapults us into the willful world of Warburg agent Deborah Lupard and her reluctant client, Dr. Dennis Cardone. Dubbing them Deb and Doc for the rest of ye olde post!

Deb explains that Doc literally bought a Financial District apartment (that she brokered) on a Wednesday and wants to sell it on a Friday. Basically, it was a giant OOOPS! Doc's issue? He likes the pad, but not so much the nabe. He feels Wall Street is a 9-5 hustle n' bustle worky scene, and frankly, there aren't enough people around to return his smile:

He's been renting a place in the Village for 2 years and cannot bring himself to leave the vitality (read: cute NYU eye candy) the 'hood offers. Deb cannot wrap her noggin around Doc's change o' heart, and believes if he just sees the apartment again with fresh, dewy eyes, he'll wake up from this foolishness and pack his bags. To sum up, she doesn't want Doc to dump his one-night stand of an apartment. Doc gamely agrees because he is a people pleaser/freaked out by Deb's intensity, but he doesn't think he'll feel any different. Off the duo cab it to...

...his barren abode at?wait for it, Curbed readers?20 MOTHERBLEEPIN' PINE! No stranger 'round these parts, "The Collection" (what is this, a museum?) is sleek, modern and filled with luxury amenities like a pool and well-guarded subway entrance. "How could you not want to live here?" Deb exasperates as they walk through the airy lobby. I mean, if Doc cherishes the electric energy of the Village, why would he like the sophisticated/American Psycho hotel feel of 20 Pine? It's like he has an idea of who he is, and then there's WHAT HE ACTUALLY LIKES. Ancient B.A. in Psychology in effect y'all!

Deb then goes on to explain that if Doc did re-sell the $1.15 million apartment she originally sold him, and then sold him another place, she'd make crazy bank! But that's not what brokers are about in this episode. They're about making clients happy, and in this case, locking them inside their 1,277-square-foot 2 bed/2 bath isolation tank to look out onto empty, cutie-deficient streets.

Am I projecting, or is Doc's talk about how he enjoys the apartment's quietness really a cry for help? He wants that Village scream of life dammit! Deb then takes Doc on a tour of all the insane amenities inside the building. There's the usual pool, library, gym rooms - all very tasteful and refined. Up on the roof deck, Deb really takes her game up a notch when she tells Doc that "usually there's a lot of people scantily clad out here." Yeah, right. In business swimsuits!

There's one amenity Doc seems to really enjoy though:

The golf simulator! Doc does get a bit swept up in the epic grandness of the building, and admits that he really liked the apartment, but doesn't know what it's like to live downtown. Is there a community he can smile widely at?

We'll find out, but first Deb thinks she can convince Doc that his apartment is "far superior" by taking him to a comparable one in enemy territory: Union Square. They visit a smaller 2BR pad at 111 Fourth Avenue that's going for $1.175 million, a touch more than his 20 Pine condo.

So now Doc is nit-picking over the fact that 20 Pine has a full size dishwasher and this one only has a mini? Deb's tactics are working! And now for the final blow...a tourist-like visit to FiDi with an attractive (single?) friend of Deb's, Catherine. She's lived and worked there for 22 years, so she knows what's up.

Doc is so happy to meet Catherine:

Off the trio go, exploring the quaint cobblestone streets, Battery Park City and the adorbs restaurant row on Stone Street. Catherine's cheerleading rubs off on Doc, and by the end of the day he seems impressed with FiDi's hidden gems. He's still unsure, but he recognizes that it's not "fair to himself" to carry a rental AND a mortgage. Is it too late to go to med school?

The next morning, Deb meets Doc at his beloved 45 5th Avenue rental for the big decision. Will he move to the apartment he owns and make her victorious? Or will he continue to tote his backpack around the Village?

Dum, dum, dum...

He's moving out! Doc elaborates that the tour changed his mind and he's ready for the neighborhood switcharoo. Deb raises her hands in triumph, no doubt elated her frustrated efforts paid off. Oh, wait. No they didn't! Because a text box flashes on the screen telling us that Doc moved into 20 Pine for a short time but then sold the apartment. For $1.17 million if you must know. (Here's the listing.) Lessons learned? You can sell a feeling, but you can't make it stick.

Episode grade: 3 out of 5 cackling Kleiers!

· Selling New York coverage [Curbed]