Have you ever heard of a one-bedroom apartment you just bought yesterday becoming a studio with the home-office today or a two-bedroom is no longer anymore but now a one bedroom with home office and so on…? What a genuinely nightmarish scenario as the rest of property values continue upwards your property valuation is unexpectedly diving down. Yes, it is possible more than ever, just ask owners at 235 East 22 Street, where half the building windows were blocked by the new Naftali development 234 East 23rd Street or many owners of 330 Third Avenue coop where windows with west exposure were blocked by the new Baruch College building some years ago.
When buying an apartment be careful of exposures. Make sure that the windows of the unit you are buying in are not “lot line” windows and can’t be blocked by new development, because otherwise your apartment will rapidly depreciate and grow down in size.
The recent stand out example is The Silk Building, 4 East 4th Street where an entire south side of the building is being blocked by the new development of 1 Great Jones Alley and a great number of the apartments lost views, light that has hurts values. You will be safe of course if you have all windows with street exposures, however with narrow streets always look across to see what can be built. The view does not have to change substantially to affect the property value. You may live on the sixth floor across from a four-story building, but a new development can replace the existing structure with one that grows to 10 or more stories changing your views and available light. In some cases, the neighborhood associations can block future developments, but it is instead an exception than a rule if it is not a historical building or a block.
In the case of a lot line window the room which loses such a window and if there is no other that can be opened would turn that a bedroom no longer. Even if the new development is 30 feet away as prescribed by law in some cases, the views and available light will be forever lost which will ultimately affect the value of the apartment substantially.
Always ask your broker to check the possibility of your windows being potentially blocked especially if you have a view on the parking lot, or a low usually built one to four stories commercial structure such as garage, gas station or a store. These types of sites invite developers to build hotels, rental and condominium buildings of the heights equal to or higher than existing buildings on the block. However, if nearby buildings are rental, co-op or condo buildings with more than 20 units and rent stabilized tenants rest assure that it will be challenging for the developer to overcome these existing limitations and it will require a substantial additional layout of cash to buy the tenants out and to deal with the city.
That is also why it is essential to have an experienced well-seasoned broker on your side. The right broker will only negotiate a better price but also will look out for potential future problems after all an experienced buyer’s broker has a wealth of knowledge and expertise.