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In the Market for a Penthouse? You Might Want to Get Yourself a Specialist...

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What makes a penthouse specialist? I get asked that question a lot. Has there ever been a time when you were just doing something you love? And after years of focus and experience you suddenly realize you know a lot about it? Well, I love penthouses and that's exactly what happened to me.

About five years ago I started looking more in depth at the type of inventory I was listing and selling, and to my total surprise, it was mostly penthouses. I was also living in a penthouse which was on the first level of three levels of PHs on 17th Street and Seventh Avenue. And then it hit me... I was selling penthouses, I lived in a penthouse, and I've always been drawn to the exclusive allure of penthouses. I knew I had found my niche.

There are many positive aspects to living in a penthouse -- including light, views, outdoor space, and expansion potential -- but there are many concerns as well, including low water pressure, electric service, roof leaks and access. Many penthouses have outdoor spaces -- sometimes even several outdoor spaces. One thing you want to look for is if there is electric units near water outside. Check to see if the common outdoor space for the building is right next to or on top of your private space. This could obviously intrude on your privacy.

Penthouses have amazing light and really good to outstanding views. If you do have outdoor space, you might find you want a landscape architect, especially if you don't have spacial and decorating talents. Where your terrace faces also plays into the decision making factor. Does it get light all day long or part of the day? Do you want low maintenance plantings and flowers? Do you want to water your flowers, plants and tree yourself or put in an irrigation system, which could be set to water your plants several times a day to just a couple of times a week? (That's the route I chose: I know my strengths and a green thumb isn't one of them.)

Then what kind of outdoor furniture do you want? Furniture with cushions or just fabric? It's hard to keep cushions outside all the time because, believe it or not, no matter how high up you are, they get dirty pretty fast, they get wet and they fly away on windy days. I had storage for my cushions. It was a little inconvenient, but it was nice to have clean cushions. They also make cushions with fabric that can be zipped off and sent to the cleaners.

Another point to consider is the location of other outdoor space, whether it's off of your main living area, off of a bedroom, up one level, or on a completely different level than the rest of the apartment. Usually the apartment is valued a little more when the terrace is off the main living room and is functional. (By functional I mean you can fit more than two chairs outside and have several people outside at once.)

What is also nice about penthouses is, more often than not, you only have one or two -- maybe three -- other apartments on the same floor. What I loved about my penthouse was the views of the empire state, Chrysler and Met-Life building. Actually, all the rooms had views and I had only one wall of my entire 2,200 square-foot apartment shared with another apartment.

Often times penthouse apartments will have fireplaces, which is a real luxury, especially if it's wood burning. This seems to be more rare than private outdoor spaces. The big question is, how do you value a penthouse? How do you figure out how to price them? I have to say it's a skill and a talent. I have had many conversations with Jonathan Miller, a leading appraiser, and it's given me great insight. With years of experience buying and selling penthouses not only for my clients but also for myself, I have developed the strategy and calculations that really work. That's why Toni Haber and the Haber team are NHC's premiere Penthouse specialists. Have some penthouse related questions? Drop them off in the comments. I'd love to hear from you.