Buyer "Must Haves" Property Features

Posted by urbandigs

Wed Dec 7th, 2011 10:08 AM

A: Found this Buyer Survey on from Doug Perlson, founder of, an innovative startup in the Manhattan real estate market. In vertical markets like Manhattan, buyers' expectations and emotions over certain property features can be very different than in suburban markets. Lets discuss.

Over the past 6 years of writing this blog, Ive made it very clear what buyers in the Manhattan markets bid up for:

1) Light/Views
2) Location
3) Raw Space

After these general features, buyers start to focus on things like:

a) Is there a doorman? Security?
b) Is there outdoor space?
c) What is the monthly carry?
d) What building amenities are offered?

...and on and on. BusinessInsider discussed, "What are NYC Real Estate Buyers Looking For?" and concluded:

What buyers "need" (amenities indicated as "must haves," removing "wish list" items from the equation) --

1. Light filled apartment 53%

2. Ample closet space 27%

3. Bathroom in the master bedroom 25%

4. Doorman building 20%

5. Space for a home office 14%

6. Washer/Dryer in unit 12%

Meanwhile, the Top 3 DEALBREAKERS were:

1. Walkup
2. Ground Floor
3. Renovation

"Taking a look at what buyers see as "deal breakers" 44% of buyers will not even consider a walk-up apartment, and 40% ruled out living on the ground floor", the article stated.

These conclusions resonate with what I have experienced in the field over the past 7+ years of being a Manhattan real estate agent. I find ground floor apartments, dark apartments and third floor or higher walkup apartments to be the hardest sells - which basically means that profit potential is limited on the up side given the smaller buyer pool that these properties market to. Sellers of these types of property should manage expectations and be very cognizant of their pricing strategy or else it may take a long while to procure an acceptable offer.

By far in this marketplace buyers bid up for views (think river or park views, followed by full city views) and natural sunlight. After that it tends to be about raw space and whether the subject property is large enough to meet the client's needs. Then comes location - many would think location would be top of the list, but I find this not to be the case in a market like Manhattan. Let me explain.

As Manhattan prices rose and affordability declined over the past decade, buyers widened their criteria of neighborhoods they are willing to live. Buyers that once would only consider living in the West Village, realized that if they are going to buy what they want & need that they may have to consider Chelsea or other neighboring areas. Once that buyer gets a taste of more desirable features and starts to understand what his budget can get in another neighborhood, it anchors them to expecting those now affordable features; such as a bathroom in master bedroom or a full city view. The end result is a buyer who will now have a wider search requirement, dampening the power of "location" as the top desired feature they will bid up for. That is how I find Manhattan's general market to be.

So what do we do with this information? Perlson also goes on to talk about what this could mean for both buyers and sellers:
What this means for buyers: Want a light-filled apartment with huge closets, outdoor space and a home office in an elevator building? So does everyone else. If you're willing to be flexible in your requirements, you're likely to get a better deal on a home. Decide what's most important to you and stand firm on those features, but be willing to consider apartments that don't entirely fit the bill for your "wish list."

What this means for sellers: You may not have an apartment with brilliant exposure, but make sure you turn on all of the lights and open the curtains when you have showings, even during the day. If your definition of "showing ready" means stashing all of your stuff in the closet, think again. Move some things into storage if you need to, and consider installing a closet organization system if you don't already have one. Terraces, patios and gardens should also be paid careful mind, since outdoor space can be a big selling point. If you have it, consider converting an alcove space or a spare bedroom into a functional home office.

Lacking some of these top amenities? Don't worry, most apartments aren't perfect. Just do your best to maximize the space and features you do have and remember to price accordingly.
Sellers absolutely should know what buyers pay up for and how their property matches up in the open marketplace. Buyers should understand that in this market everyone is looking for the same thing and it may not just be a good location!