The Hunt: Downsizing on the Upper West Side

The Hunt: Downsizing on the Upper West Side

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She had thought about downsizing, and twice put the apartment on the market, but got cold feet both times. But after the most recent assessment — her share was $23,000 — she was finally ready to sell last winter.

“I didn’t want ownership anymore,” Ms. Brent Magzis said. “As much as I loved the building, it was an old building and things needed to be repaired. I felt stressed from having those assessments come up. I was sure there would be more to come.”

UPPER WEST SIDE Ms. Brent Magzis did not care for the building’s hallways, but the balcony was a plus.

Credit
Robert Wright for The New York Times

She contacted her friend Ina Torton, a licensed saleswoman at Rutenberg Realty, whom she met decades ago in a consciousness-raising group. Ms. Torton leads Rutenberg’s “next move” team, which specializes in helping older adults sell their homes and relocate.

Many of her friends, Ms. Torton said, could no longer afford to have their money tied up in their apartments. But “selling people’s longtime homes is a different dynamic,” she said. “You need a lot of patience.”

Ms. Brent Magzis wanted an Upper West Side two-bedroom rental with a few features her co-op did not have: ample sunlight, a doorman and, ideally, a terrace or balcony. “A lot of it was just fantasizing to see what I could get,” she said, with a budget of up to $4,000 a month.

She initially thought she was willing to move farther uptown, but decided she didn’t want to be too far from her regular haunts: Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall and the theater district in Midtown West.

UPPER WEST SIDE A two-bedroom on a high floor meant great sunlight and an expansive view. Ms. Brent Magzis moved in this summer.

Credit
Robert Wright for The New York Times

“I talked to her about lifestyle,” Ms. Torton said. “Do you want to take cabs all over the place, or hop a bus? When you come home at night, you are tired, you don’t want a half-hour trip.”

In midsummer, Ms. Brent Magzis considered a building on West End Avenue in the high 90s with a part-time doorman. A one-bedroom there was $3,000, and a two-bedroom was in the low $4,000s, which seemed high. By the time she settled on the two-bedroom — which had an extra half-bathroom that would be good for visiting friends, children and grandchildren — it was gone.

“Until she had seen quite a few, she couldn’t make a decision,” Ms. Torton said.

At a large postwar building on 90th Street, a two-bedroom apartment and the building’s hallways struck Ms. Brent Magzis as shabby. The apartment did, however, have a balcony and a separate dining area that she liked.

She found just what she wanted in a 1975 tower in the 80s: a sunny two-bedroom with a balcony on a high floor. The rent was $4,400, and by now she was willing to pay that much. She and Sacha arrived in late summer.

“She went a little over budget — everybody does,” Ms. Torton said.

Before her move, Ms. Brent Magzis had to pare down her possessions. She was fine with downsizing. “I actually like it,” she said. “I don’t like clutter.”

The living room is big enough for the piano, though it almost blocks the balcony door. With a seating area and a dining table, she said, “there isn’t enough roaming-around room for other people — it’s a little close.”

She holds occasional recitals with friends but, having broken both wrists in the past, she rarely plays. “I am walking the dog and doing a lot of reading and discretionary things,” Ms. Brent Magzis said.

Her co-op was listed for $1.58 million, and sold for $1.5 million to a couple who wanted to be near their relatives. Those relatives, it turns out, are longtime residents in Ms. Brent Magzis’s new building.

The move wasn’t that difficult for her, “although at the last minute I got a little bit emotional,” she said.

“I was glad to move,” she added. “It’s refreshing to have a change.”

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