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Selling New York S4E10: Down N' Out Tony Townhouses

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HGTV's Selling New York rides along with brokerages CORE, Gumley Haft Kleier and Warburg as they try to sell fabulous properties fabulously. Here's our recap of how the NYC real estate industry is portrayed to the world, penned by Molly Reisner. Episode air date: 12/29/2011.

It's the end of the year, guys. Time to take a moment and reflect...on real estate! If the featured walls in last night's Selling New York could talk, they'd be all "Way to imprison me in scaffolding shackles and stifle my soul." First, a most-intense broker beseeches his son to help him find a hip buyer for a Nolita penthouse with a view you wouldn't kill for. The catch? The owner is on the board of his son's company! This is some Shakespeare drama, people. Then, a rookie agent gets a bigger break when she's in charge of re-listing a ritzy Chelsea townhouse that needs a stage-over. Will her decisions end with a commission? The solutions will be solved (or not) if your resolutions involve reading this recap!

Warburg broker Richard Steinberg is all kinds of amped. Why? He's angling for an exclusive on John Johnson's $8.75 million penthouse at 285 Lafayette Street. Oh look! We've covered this never-ending face-lifting unit before. Here's the scoop on John Johnson: he's Jon Steinberg's (Richard's son) investor in his internet company, buzzfeed. He also has parents who really dig the name John.

Richard convinces John that he'll find a buyer as sleek and hip as the white leather chairs that grace their heinies:

As you may have gathered from the headline, this penthouse is like a handsome teenage boy wearing massive amounts of headgear with some cystic acne thrown in for good measure. All terraces are fenced in by scads of scaffolding! "How are you going to overcome that?" asks John. Richard offers to bring in an architect if John puts his Hancock on the exclusive contract. Deal!

Next, Richard heads over to his son Jon's office to ask for some help getting access to young people with craploads of cash who want to show it off (AKA suave internet tycoons). Here, Jon gets tense about his Dad getting too "NFL aggressive" with finding a buyer and PO'ing off John:

Father and son engaged in a classic Steinbergian intense-off:

After Richard promises he won't "cause any trouble", Jon says he'll invite his old man to some happening parties where he can tap into a youthful buyer stream. Next, Richard heads to the penthouse to meet with architect Barry Rice. Richard gives Barry two weeks to make murals that replicate what the views will look like sans scaffolding.

White collar window jail:

It's party time! Jon invites Richard to an oddly bunny-themed shindig at Sanctuary Hotel. There, Richard breaks out of his Upper East Side comfort zone and hobnobs with potential buyers:

Care for a Fashion Don't?

Post-party, Richard perambulates up to the penthouse to see Barry's murals:

Pretty, but can a replica stand in place for the real thing? Richard finds out when he does a couple showings with fellas he filtered from the party. Let's take a gander at what a 2900 square foot view-free fiefdom looks like:

Did you catch that the scaffolding has been up for 4 years?! I guess Richard's assurance that it's coming down in the next few months is enough to scare up some interest because...

...he's got 2 undesirable offers! Richard gets on the blower to John and gives him the offer rundown. One offer is to rent the place with the option to purchase in the mid-seven million range. The other is a straight-up offer for mid-seven million. Richard tells John he wants to see if he can get the offer closer to asking price snuff. Work that exclusive, Steinberg!

Father and son reunite at the shoeshine place to get their oxfords buffed while they catch-up on penthouse progress:

Jon tells his dad about another party he could network at, but Richard gets a little high-horsey and says "I've been hugely successful for the past twenty years doing it my way" so he wants to stick to his tried and true technique AKA staring down buyers until they surrender their savings. Did Richard's way work? The updater informs that both offers fell through...but then according to this, the property is no longer on the market. Pray telleth, did it selleth? Or was it just yanked?


GHK brokers Jessica Endelson Baum and Michele Kleier are at the Chelsea home of sellers Stacey and Noah Kushlefsky at 280 West 25th Street. This 5BR, 3.5BA abode was previously listed by another company for nine months and failed to birth a contract. So, now Jess is spear-heading a re-listing to resuscitate interest. Jess wants Mama there because she wants the K'lefskys to trust her and she wants to do right by Mama. This is a new level of luxe Jess is representing and a successful outcome could mean higher level brokering for her.

Here's a peek at the 4,000 square foot home that houses the parents and their five(!) kids:

Stacey and Noah Brady Bunch'd and each have 2 kids from previous marriages, and then had one together (the hybrid kid would totes be there if the show ever gets remade). Since each of their kids goes to a different school (THAT'S CRAZY) and most of the schools are uptown, they want to move the brood there.

A tour around the house reveals lots of empty walls and a sad, unkempt backyard:

Mama suggests two things to help hook a buyer: 1) chopping $200k off the price and 2) getting it staged. Apparently, once the K'lefskys decided to sell, they also decided to stop decorating. Hence, the barren vibe.

Next, Jess brings in designer Donna Dazzo who makes no bones about what needs to be done:

The K'lefskys get frowny-faced at the thought of depersonalizing their space but Donna convinces them that if they wanna sell, than the clutter and family photos have gotta go:

It's open house day which means it's Jess's time to let her broker light shine on this $5.75 million urban manse :

Any townhouse takers? Welps, Jess lunches with the K'lefksys at Donatella to share some news...

There's an offer! And it's not a lowball! The K'lefskys are stoked and want Jess to find them a new home uptown. The update explains she's working on just that, but my research reveals that their home is dum, dum, dum...still on the market.

Episode Grade: A tale of two townhouses leaves a trail of unsealed deals, but it was entertaining to watch Steinberg & Son scene-steal. Half sizzling + half uncrackling episode = two and a half HAPPY 2012!!! cackling Kleiers.

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

285 Lafayette

285 Lafayette Street, New York, NY