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Selling New York S7E3&4: Dreams and Fears

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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. Episode air date: 6/21/2013.

Dreams, art, fear?weighty philosophical issues at work this week on Selling New York. HGTV's scheduling gods are unrolling this season's episodes slowly as part of Friday SNY marathons, so we'll be recapping each episode the day it airs. (And regular recapper Angela Bunt will be back next time, promise!) Up first today: two sets of sellers who aren't sure they want to sell at all. One is a pair of Tribeca artists who don't know if they can top the loft they've already got; the other, an aspiring interior designer who can get the cash to pursue her dreams?if she sells her current place. So the real question of the half hour is whether our brokers will walk away with any commissions at all. Pour a mimosa?what? it's brunch time?and find out.

North Tribeca's #1 fan, Deborah Lupard, is on her way to see the "true Tribeca loft" owned by artists Udi and Vered Behr. (Check out Udi's celebrity client list to see how artists can afford to live in Tribeca these days.) And yes, the Behrs really are artists:

Unfortunately, by the time Deb shows up, the Behrs are on the fence about whether they really want to move, thanks to Udi's reminiscing about his family's life in the apartment. (Vered, meanwhile, is just trying not to lose patience completely.) Deb gets the know the Behrs' souls by reading the magnetic poetry on their dorm fridge front door. Yep, this is gonna be an emotional one.

"It's so?unique," Deb says as she tours the space. Are we imagining the note of hesitation in her voice? She warms up a bit when she sees the view. The couple explains why they (might) want to move: kids are grown, they need to downsize (from the current 3,500 square feet), and they'd really prefer more outdoor space.

They'd also like to get about $3 million for the loft, and since they're in no hurry to move, why accept a penny less? Commissions don't grow on trees, so Deb would like to sway the Behrs toward moving. She urges them to let go of their fear about the future and?check out some apartments they might like enough to give up their current one. The first stop is a $2,195,000 place at 20 West Street.

The style is nothing like the Behrs' current loft?in fact, they seem to want to break down all the walls to make it more loft-y?but the outdoor space makes Udi so happy he shouts into the rain about it:

Artists. Their reactions are good news for Deb, though, because they're convinced they can move, and they want Deb to do the deal. Group hug!

But when Deb holds the first open house, people aren't charmed enough by the "unique"?really, Deb, that's the best word you can come up with??design to get the sellers' full almost-$3 million asking price. There's just one lowball offer. Vered wants to hear it and Udi doesn't, so Deb whispers it into Vered's ear loudly enough for just her and the camera, but not Udi, to hear: $2.5 million. That certainly won't help the Behrs' cold feet. We leave them with the apartment still on the market and Vered rolling her eyes at Udi's zen attitude.

Producer/director Deana Lenz is the second potential seller/buyer who's making real estate decisions based on warm fuzzies in this episode. She recently changed careers to interior design, and to grow her business, she needs cash. That cash is currently tied up in her apartment, and downsizing would allow her and her husband to take some of that money out. But?sound familiar??only if she finds the right place.

Deana and her family have a 1,550-square-foot 2BR, 2BA that's basically a suburban home: her kids play soccer in the foyer, the maid's room has been turned into a breakfast nook, and, well, check out the size of that kitchen:

Broker Ann Cutbill Lenane of Elliman pretty much guarantees herself the listing when she praises the interior design?done, of course, by Deana herself. But before Ann gets that precious exclusive agreement, she has to pull a Deb and convince Deana she really does want to move. Deana doesn't seem like she'll need as much convincing as Udi, because her mom's death has made her realize that life is short and she needs to reach for her dreams.

But there are a few stops on the path to Deana's dreams, and the first one is Lincoln Square's Tower 67, where Ann wants Deana to check out a potential $7,990/month 3BR, 3BA rental.

?and it's a snoozer, except for the terrace. Not surprisingly given her career aspirations, Deana wants something she can put her stamp on, and this isn't it. (She's still better behaved about it than a lot of the sellers on this show, so points to you, D.) Deana's design itch means buying is probably the way to go, so Ann takes her to 310 West 99th Street, to a prewar 3BR, 2BA duplex asking $1,075,000.

Deana is rather charmed by the quiet, the southern light, and the neutral renovated bathroom, and Ann accurately uses the word "cozy" in its true, non-brokerbabble sense to describe the place. But Deana won't be able to get her own apartment listed and sold in time to make an offer on 310, so this will just have to be the one that got away. The good news for Ann, though, is that Deana plans to put her apartment on the market?sometime in the next few months. Cheers!

One episode down, one more to go! In the second installment of this morning's marathon, we start, phew, with someone who is actually sure he wants to sell his place. That someone is soccer star Claudio Reyna, a Kleier client who no longer has time to use his Cipriani pied-a-terre. He wants a quick sale and a profit, but there's one problem: he bought the apartment at the top of the market, and there's a lot more inventory to compete with in the Financial District these days.

Sabrina promises to do her best for Claudio, and she brings sister Samantha with her to evaluate the Cipriani pad. The 1,001-square-foot 1BR, 1.5BA is neutral, decor-wise, but that kinda works with Cipriani's amenity-laden hotel vibe. We don't look to soccer stars for interior design daring?that's Deana's job.

The Kleiers aren't FiDi experts, so they go in search of some comps. A 1BR at 75 Wall Street asking $1.19 million has a second bathroom but is "very functional" and not as "fabulous" as Claudio's place. But?drat!?it does have a washer-dryer, so the fabulousness quotients of the two apartments might be closer than the Kleiers would like. At least they can feel better about the comp at 15 Broad Street, where the decor is?there's that word again?"fabulous," but the bedroom lacks a window and is therefore not a real bedroom at all. Fabulouser and fabulouser!

Claudio wins, especially since his furniture is included and the 15 Broad decor is not. Unfortunately, since Claudio paid $1,275,000 for his place, he still won't be able to make a profit.

But Claudio's a grown-up about it, and after hearing Sabrina's recitation of the comps, he agrees to her price suggestion of $1,095,000. The people who arrive at the Kleier's open house, though, have another idea?most are brokers whose clients would want to buy the place and rent it out. So why not just list it as a short-term rental while Sabrina works to sell it?

Claudio agrees, and the place hits the rental market for $5,000/month. The first potential renter to show up happens to be a money manager for high net worth individuals and professional athletes. Coincidence? We think not, since this is reality TV. The update doesn't say whether the money manager signs a lease, but it does tell us that Sabrina rented the apartment out for four months before making the sale. Goooaaal?except that the deal was more of a loss for Claudio, with a closing price of $940,000.

Warburg's Rebecca Edwardson, the second broker up in this episode, takes us back to the land of sellers dreaming big, unrealistic dreams. The added wrinkle this time is that the sellers, Medhat and Paula Ibrahim, are also friends of Rebecca's. So she knows what they want, but it's that much more awkward if she can't find it.

And with a 5,500-square-foot 3BR, 3BA, it isn't immediately clear why Medhat and Paula are looking to move. They already have his and hers desks!

Ah, but what they really want, in what is becoming a theme of the morning, is outdoor space for gardening and entertaining. They're willing to take a smaller overall space in exchange, but they also use the phrase "dream home," a concept that doesn't generally involve compromise. Rebecca, though she's armed with her own secret database of apartments with outdoor space, is already a little worried about this mixing of business and friendship. We don't blame her! Medhat and Paula seem like tough customers.

Rebecca takes Paula to 200 Mercer, where there's a lovely $4.175 million 4BR, 4BA spread?not exactly a downsize from Paula and Medhat's current abode.

There's a lot that Paula loves about the space, but she's the Goldilocks in this situation, and the apartment isn't just right. The outdoor space, at the top of a spiral staircase, would be too much of a challenge for entertaining. Paula and Rebecca are rocking a similar hairstyle/sunglasses look, but that's about as far as the mind-meld goes this time. Back to the secret database, Rebecca!

The next stop is 110 Duane Street, and this time Rebecca's right to think that Paula will love the "fabulous" (yes, again) $3.395 million penthouse. This time, the outdoor space is right off the living room.

And Paula does like it?sort of. But she also feels hemmed in by the surrounding buildings, and the bathroom is only half the size of her current one. Nope, not in a mood to compromise. "I understand. I still love you," Rebecca tells Paula. Hmm, somebody might be protesting a little too much. The friends (?) adjourn for what Rebecca calls, um, a "drinkypoo."

When next we see them, Medhat is back, and he and Paula follow Rebecca to another Soho penthouse. Did she finally get it this time? The apartment is $6.5 million, and this is the first thing Paula and Medhat see:

Again, at 3,200 square feet inside and another 2,000 square feet outside, the 3BR, 3.5BA isn't really shrinking the family's space any, but we're starting to think that's not really what they're after. And here, Paula and Medhat will no longer have to settle for just his and hers desks?there are also his and hers bathrooms and dressing rooms.

The outdoor space, too, finally hits the spot. Large and open, and even though it's upstairs from the kitchen, Paula and Medhat would be allowed to add an extra kitchen to the roof. And, Rebecca admits in the voiceover, this is the last apartment on the market that even remotely meets their criteria, so fingers crossed that this is it.

Rebecca meets with Medhat and Paula at their restaurant in the West Village to discuss their plans, and we learn that their outdoor space obsession extends beyond their own living space:

"I love the grass!" enthuses Rebecca. What she doesn't love as much is what she hears next: the Ibrahims aren't ready to make an offer on the Soho penthouse. It's outside of their budget, especially since they'd want to renovate the rooftop, too. But Rebecca promises to return to her secret database and write letters to any owners who might have other apartments in line with Medhat and Paula's dreams and budget. We don't foresee this deal getting done for a long, long time.

Are we doing enough to go for our dreams? Do we really need to move? Are there really so few apartments with outdoor space on the same level as the kitchen? All the big questions in these episodes had us a little angsty, and there was a disappointing lack of deals, so we're giving out only 3.5 out of 5 cackling Kleiers. Half a Kleier more than appeared on today's episodes:

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

75 Wall Street

75 Wall Street, New York, NY