Upper West Side Townhouses Are Scarce, But Provide More Value Than Condos
Space and value are two things that don’t seem to go hand in hand in the New York City real estate market, but both can be found in townhouse form on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, and is emerging as an area for investment for high-net-worth buyers, according to recent sales information.
The neighborhood has a scarcity of townhouses above 20 feet wide — 10 on the market currently, versus 27 for sale on the Upper East Side. However, the price per square foot of a townhouse measuring 20 feet or more in width is nearly half the price of a comparably-sized condo, with the difference much smaller across town, according to data from real estate valuation platform Compit.
Last year, 20 townhouses above 20 feet wide sold on the Upper West Side, with an average price of $11 million and an average price per square foot of $1,332. On the Upper East side, 20 townhouses above 20 feet wide sold last year, with an average sale price of $18.9 million and an average price per square foot of $1,999.
Contrast that with sales of condos that have four or more bedrooms, with an average price of $2,500 per square foot on the Upper West Side and $2,734 per square foot on the Upper East Side.
“Theres so much value hidden over there,” says Yair Tavivian, a broker with Douglas Elliman Real Estate and the co-founder of Compit. “You are in price-per-square-foot valuation that’s unheard of. It’s like prices for condos 10 years ago.”
Tavivian notes that wider townhouses are more in demand, which allows for more usable space, even when an elevator is installed.
Of course, what townhouse buyers get in square footage they give up in building amenities or views from higher floors.
Historically, more townhouses on the Upper West Side than the Upper East were divided up into multifamily buildings, says Deanna Kory of Corcoran, who is listing a circa-1910 20-foot-wide, five-bedroom townhouse at 139 West 78th St. with an elevator for $8.695 million and a five-bedroom condo down the street at 101 West 78th St. for $11.45 million.
Townhouses also are generally not as newly renovated as the condos on the market, Kory says.
The townhouse is more of a “niche part of the housing stock,” says Doug Bowen of Douglas Elliman Real Estate, who primarily brokers townhouses, including a landmarked seven-bedroom Renaissance Revival brownstone at 323 West 101st St., listed for $6.75 million. “There’s always been a demand and desire for the townhouse because they’re exclusive in that way and provide a level of history that especially newly-built condominiums don’t have.”
The value in the Upper West Side townhouse market also opens up the opportunity for development, such as the mega-townhouse combinations that have been making headlines, though Bowen notes that development on the Upper West Side can be more restrictive because of the number of large Landmarks Preservation Commission-designated historic districts.
Still, with buyers lured by the prominence of home renovation TV shows and the possibility of rental income from homes with a multifamily designation, townhouses are a good investment for the right buyer.
“There’s always going to be someone who falls in love with living in these configurations,” Bowen says. “People want to create their dream house.”