In an online article on March 30, 2018, Ian Port of StreetEasy published lists of buyers’ and sellers’ ten most wanted amenities in the New York City market in the six months prior to March 30th. Of interest to Riverdalians is just how typical or atypical our market is as compared to the New York City apartment market as a whole. Riverdale’s ability to satisfy requirements that are somewhat different from the requirements of New York City buyers and renters as a whole is what makes Riverdale desirable and is what differentiates us from more congested urban areas. It is also notable that the differences between Riverdale and other places, such as Manhattan, directly affect and determine what we want and what is possible for us to have with regard to these listed amenities. That is, some items are not widely available in Riverdale (apartment fireplaces, for example, which are more available in Manhattan) while other amenities are more common in Riverdale, such as the ability to maintain and park a car, be it in a garage, outdoors off-street, or on the street.
So let’s consider parking. Of the ten most desired amenities enumerated by Mr. Port, parking is at the very bottom of the list for both New York City renters and buyers—only 1.5% for renters and 2.7% for buyers. Yet, in Riverdale, indoor or off-street parking is a significant component of the wish lists of both buyers and renters because more Riverdalians own cars. When people move from Manhattan to Riverdale, they often look forward to buying a car because they know that there is better parking availability here—much more affordable than in Manhattan—and that street parking is not too difficult on many of our streets. Where I live, there are no parking meters and no alternate-side parking requirements. In other Riverdale areas, alternate-side restrictions are not onerous. Therefore, requests for parking are greater in Riverdale than in other areas of the city.
So beloved are pets in New York City that, not surprisingly, the top renters’ request, by a significant margin, is that the building allow pets: 33.7% requested this as opposed to the second most important request, doorman, at 24.6%. For buyers, the doorman is king at 36.4% while pets are second at 28.7%. In Riverdale, pet-friendly buildings are often requested, but they are not usually at the top of the list or deal-killers except for pet owners.
Here are what New York City renters want: pet-friendly buildings, 33.7%; doorman, 24.6%; elevator, 22.3%; washer/dryer in the apartment, 21.5%; laundry in building, 17.4%; dishwasher, 15.6%; outdoor space, 11.6%; gym, 5.6%; furnished, 2.6%; and parking, 1.5%.
Here are what New York City buyers want: doorman, 36.4%; pet-friendly buildings, 28.7%; elevator, 26.4%; washer/dryer in the apartment, 19.0%; outdoor space, 17.8%; dishwasher, 9.0%; laundry in building, 7.9%; gym, 3.9%; fireplace, 2.7%; and parking, 2.7%.
Looking at the renters’ list and comparing it to my experiences in 27 years as a local broker, I can say that hardly anyone asks if Riverdale buildings have elevators. Doormen are not always a must; this may partially depend upon the amount of rent, for as people know, the lower the rent, the less the likelihood of having a doorman. Some people would like in-apartment washers and dryers in Riverdale but do not fuss if the building does not allow them; almost everyone knows that there are laundry rooms in the buildings. Outdoor space is almost never mentioned because we have many parks and pleasant places to walk, jog, bicycle, etc. Only a few people ask for gyms but they are pleased to learn if buildings have them. A few short-term tenants ask if the apartments are furnished, but most people with whom I deal are here for longer periods and/or already have their own furniture.
As for the buyers, we are now talking about an investment as well as a place in which to live, so resale value is a concern for some of them. Therefore, if they can afford them, buyers look for elements that they believe will be attractive to future buyers. So, for the buyers, I hear more requests for doormen, attractive views such as river views, completely updated kitchens (including dishwashers) and bathrooms, hardwood flooring, clothes washers and dryers in the apartments, and parking. In Riverdale, the ability to purchase an indoor parking right is very important to some buyers. A parking space that comes with the apartment is a definite plus. And of course there are differences based upon income and assets: rich folks may want and can afford different amenities from what middle-class and upper-middle-class people want and can afford.
Two of the most common requests are for proximity to transportation and the ability to walk to the shopping districts. Although many of my Manhattan transplants tell me that they are coming to Riverdale for some peace, quiet and fresh air, they simultaneously crave the ability to walk to the shopping district. Some of these people must adjust to the fact that our stores and restaurants are not open all night, but, thank goodness, many of them do deliver! Many of my buyers and renters who have children request that their buildings be located so that their children can attend a specific public school, and I was surprised that proximity to certain schools is not included in New York City renters’ or buyers’ lists. Finally, in Riverdale, with regard to a significant component of our demographic, I receive many specifications regarding walking distance to houses of worship and building floors above which my customers will not rent or purchase.
By Vivian Oleen