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Selling New York S6E12: Some Imagination Required

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HGTV's Selling New York rides along with brokerages CORE, Kleier Residential, 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 Angela Bunt. Episode air date: 2/21/2013.

It's the perfect blend of young and old, experienced and not-so-experienced this week, as we watch Kleier Residential President Michele Kleier and CORE Executive VP Michael Graves navigate the sea of NYC real estate. Graves is trying to repeat his previous record-breaking performance at a Park Avenue building by selling an $8.45M apartment as close to the asking price as possible. Meanwhile, Michele is working with property developer Penny Bradley to find her a suitable new townhouse to renovate. Will she be able to pull through for her new pal? Will Graves be gravely disappointed?
The grasshopper becomes the master this week, as CORE Executive VP Michael Graves works to prove himself to his boss, CORE CEO Shaun Osher, by selling an $8.45M pad in the 240 Park Avenue South building. What makes this an even more enticing opportunity is that Michael has already sold a penthouse in the building, and even broke the record for highest price per square foot. Now, Mike wants to sell the new property for no less than $8.1M, essentially breaking his own record-breaking record because "it would mean so much for my career." He swears he will not be using performance-enhancing drugs.

"This kid is such a n00b."

Rather than being impressed, Osher (pronounced Awwwsher) basically chastises Graves for doing such a bang-up brokerage job in his past deal: "You shot yourself in the foot. You set a record, now everyone expects that from you." Thanks for the vote of confidence, Osh-Kosh!

One of the biggest challenges facing the sale of the 240 Park Avenue space (besides the price point Graves is hoping to reach) is the furniture. It's beautiful and completely custom. But, that's just the problem. The furniture gives the apartment an appeal that it wouldn't have otherwise, and soon the owners will be moving it into their new digs. It's imperative that Graves sell the place before it's empty inside (like he is. All work and no play, y'know how it goes).

Graves gets to selling, showing off the apartment to brokers and buyers alike. He's hoping his soft, soothing voice and boyish good looks will help him land a deal. Throughout the tour he uses expressions like "wrap glass corners" and "signature residence" and makes the pantry sound like the closet leading to Narnia. But as Graves says, "In real estate, it's sort of like selling a piece of art. It's whatever someone believes it's worth." AKA make up a bunch of fancy terms in an effort to squeeze every last dime out of these one-percenters.

Graves meets up with Susan Kennedy, associate broker at Halstead, to discuss a potential offer. Her clients love the apartment, but they don't love the price. They're also pretty set on having outdoor space, which this place doesn't have. She predicts their offer will land around the high $7M mark. Graves comes off a bit aggresively as he tells Susan he needs that number to be higher, and exclaims privately to the camera: "The high sevens are not going to do. I need to be very close to the full asking price for me to deliver for my seller, who expects me to be a record breaker one more time." Michael is putting way too much pressure on himself to be the best?there's no way he's going to be able to pull this off all on his own.

Notice Michael's hand balling up into a fist.

At this point in the episode, Michael is feeling the heat so intensely he looks like he's about to spontaneously combust. Pacing around the CORE office, he vows to his client over the phone that he will break his previous record and sell the property for over $8.1M. He begins to reach out to everybody that's shown interest in the apartment in an effort to start a bidding war. Aggression, short-temper, intensity. Are you sure you're not doping, Michael?

To help calm his frayed nerves, Michael and Shaun take a stroll in Madison Square Park while Michael waits on news from Susan Kennedy. Apparently Graves' intimidation tactics at their last meeting worked: Kennedy's clients put in an offer at $8.3M, which is $200K more than his previous record-breaking deal. He did it, he did it! He broke his record, gained the respect of Shaun Osher, and proved himself to be one of the best brokers CORE has to offer.


Next up is yet another appearance from Mama Michele, whom we've been seeing more and more of this season and I ain't mad at it! This week, she's stepping out of the brokerage box and instead dabbling in some property development work. She's teaming up with Penny Bradley, who worked as the property developer on Emeril Lagassi's townhouse (which Michele has the exclusive on, no big deal). Penny specializes in buying townhouses and bringing them to life through complete gut renovations, and Michele has a few properties she'd like to show her in the hopes that she'll take them on as her next development project. Then, once the properties look awesome, Michelle can sell the hell out of them. Kind of like a you scratch my back, I scratch yours type of thing.

The first potential fixer-upper is at 59 Park Avenue. God, those apartments on Park are all so dilapidated, hey? It's a $12M, 6,480-square-foot townhouse that holds 10 apartments: five studios in the front, five one-bedrooms in the back.

Penny says the criteria she considers when purchasing a property is first the location, and then the "bones" of the apartment. No matter how gorgeous the crib may be initially, if it doesn't have the ability to be converted into something even better, then there's no real value in it. So does Penny see value in this Park Ave space? Mama Kleier asks. "Do you have other things to show me?" Penny wonders. So: no.

Hmm, are we sure it's not Richard Lewis the comedian?

Mama K does have something else: a townhouse at 111 Bank Street – the heart of Greenwich Village. Penny is joined by her architect, Richard Lewis (not to be confused with the comedian), who's going to give some input on the pad while managing to get a little airtime for himself. It's $7.5M, 5,000-square-foot townhouse with six units inside.

It's hard to summarize an apartment when the people touring it are picturing all the different ways they can gut it and start anew, but Penny and her architect see a lot of potential in the building. The property is 22 feet-wide, larger than average for a townhouse in this 'hood, which means there's a lot of room to renovate. Penny describes it as "quaint" and "charming," which only comes off as slightly patronizing to the average television viewer who can't afford to flip NYC real estate. They estimate that renovations will cost around $1.5M to $2M dollars.

"I'm watching you, Penny."

Michele meets with Penny at her restaurant, Lyon, to discuss the properties they've been checking out. So this woman is a prolific property developer and also owns a restaurant? I can't even juggle doing my laundry on the same day I'm going out for a happy hour. Penny loves the Bank Street property but thinks she needs to finish her current project on the Upper East Side before taking on something new. Michele says she'll keep her eye on the townhouse in case she needs to scare potential buyers away. In the meantime, Penny has some referrals for Michele, who she's begun working with since the episode aired.

It's like everything happened in this episode...yet nothing happened at all. And don't you think Michele is starting to look more and more like Samanatha Kleier everyday? This episode gets 2 out of 5 cackling Kleiers.

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