REAL ESTATE: Manhattan’s most affordable 2-BR’s

BY MARTHA WILKIE | My kid got a lesson in real estate economics the other day. We bought a hot dog from a cart on Fifth Ave. one day, and one from a cart exactly one block east the next. One was $3, the other $1.50. A classic example of “location, location, location.”

When it comes to Manhattan real estate, the term “affordable” usually means “less insanely expensive.” This week, the (relative) bargains (i.e., under $400,000) are all Uptown: Harlem, Washington Heights and Inwood. Don’t be fooled by that two-bedroom in the St. Regis Hotel, with maid service, for $260,000. It’s a timeshare.

All but one of these are H.D.F.C. (Housing Development Fund Corporation) co-ops with income requirements, e.g., “maximum income for 1 person is $87,720; 2 people, $100,200; 3 people, $112,680.” The seller may ask the usual 20 percent down payment, but others require an all-cash purchase. You’ll notice most of these have been on the market for months, waiting for that unicorn who can save up $239,000 while living in New York City on a salary under $87,720.

Cait Etherington of City Realty advises buyers to do their research.

“While some H.D.F.C. buildings resemble well-managed market-rate co-ops,” she wrote on her blog, “others have suffered from years of poor management and neglected maintenance.”


This pretty bedroom is in a “well-maintained” H.D.F.C. in Washington Heights. (Courtesy Compass)

Listed by Compass, in Washington Heights, at 501 W. 156th St., a bright, pretty two-bedroom, one-bath co-op has windows in every room and French doors. “Well-maintained HDFC building.” $309,000.


Original 1920s wall moldings come with this Harlem apartment. (Courtesy Compass)

Another Compass listing, a two-bedroom, one-bath H.D.F.C. co-op in Harlem, at 30 Macombs Place, has a windowed, eat-in kitchen and original 1920s wall moldings. It’s a fourth-floor walk-up and requires only 10 percent down. $239,000.


Like furnishings that don’t “run with the herd”? You might like this Harlem H.D.F.C. unit. (Courtesy Compass)

Also in Harlem, listed by Compass, is a newly renovated, quirkily furnished, two-bedroom, one-bath H.D.F.C. co-op at 3 E. 131st St., with a stunning white marble bathroom. The kitchen has high-end appliances, two sinks, vented range hood, and a garbage disposal. (Don’t ask why the city now allows disposals while trying to get people to compost.) $345,000.


With this Washington Heights home, you’ll get high ceilings and beautifully finished French doors, among other features. (Courtesy Compass)

Finally, a prewar co-op at 478 W. 158th St., in Washington Heights — listed by, you guessed it, Compass — boasts a common garden, high ceilings, beautifully finished French doors, an eat-in kitchen, and a chic black-and-white bathroom with a claw-foot tub. Two bedrooms, one bath. Not an H.D.F.C., no income requirements. $399,000.