The residential real estate market on Manhattan’s Upper East Side is very healthy, with significant demand for high-end properties. So, when a homeowner tried to put his townhouse on the market recently, he probably expected it would attract some interest. Instead, a broker he contacted was not even willing to list it. In addition, after the $25 million property finally was listed six months ago, it did not attract a single offer.
The reason? According to the townhouse owner, noise and debris from a top-to-bottom renovation of the mansion next door was scaring buyers off. The owner, the retired chairman of a well-known publishing house, has now brought a lawsuit against his neighbors in New York state court seeking $60 million in damages. He alleges that his townhouse has been surrounded by scaffolding and piles of debris, due to the renovation next door. In addition to the problems he has alleged with selling his property, he also claims he cannot enjoy his deck or his garden because of the construction activity.
The couple next door has been conducting the renovation since 2011. They are converting their property from a multiple-unit building to a single five-story residence. A construction supervisor told a newspaper reporter that his crews have gone out of their way to minimize any disturbance to the neighboring property.
This real estate litigation is likely to boil down to the question of why the townhouse is not selling. The defendants will likely argue that the real problem is not the construction issues, it is the price. If the townhouse owner can get some prospective buyers to testify they would have paid his asking price, but were put off by the construction, he may be able to get somewhere with this lawsuit.
Source: The New York Post, “Next-door mansion renovation is stopping home sale: suit,” Julia Marsh & Laurel Babcock, Sept. 24, 2014