The Nest

NestApple's Real Estate Blog

Featuring real estate articles and information to help real estate buyers and sellers. The Nest features writings from Georges Benoliel and other real estate professionals. Georges is the Co-Founder of NestApple and has been working as an active real estate investor for over a decade.

Doorman building in NYC: expense or necessity?

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New York City Buildings are iconic. For some people, apartment buildings in NYC with a doorman are a MUST. They range from ultra-luxurious to rat nests and everything in between. Several amenities and requirements should be analyzed when buying vs. renting, condo vs. coop. Budget and personal preferences determine how many boxes you check when building amenities. When buying or renting a place in New York City, prospective buyers and tenants can decide whether or not they want to live in a building with a doorman. Living in a doorman building in NYC comes with subcategories: full-time doorman, part-time doorman, virtual doorman, and a combination of the above.

New York Skyline, Doorman building in NYC:

Your broker at NestApple will help you decide what choice is better for you by going through some of the pros and cons of having a doorman.

Pros of apartment buildings in NYC with a doorman

One of the more apparent advantages of living in a doorman building is, of course, safety. Concierges filter the traffic of visitors and goods going in and out of the building. Visitors cannot enter if not announced, and they will have to call up to enter the building. For instance, doormen will call if someone is here to deliver food and authorize that person to go through the lobby provided the resident confirms they are expecting a delivery.

The same applies to packages. Having a doorman to receive packages means no need to worry about being home when that delivery you’ve been longing for finally arrives. The doorman will take care of everything and store the package until you are back from your weekend away.

Your doorman will also be a permanent helping hand at the entrance of the building. Need a hand with those heavy groceries? Need someone to bring your luggage up and down before a big trip? He’s your man.

The doorman is responsible for the overall cleanliness and order of the lobby. Hailing taxis is an old-school doorman task.

Types of Doorman Buildings

First, there are the stereotypical doorman buildings—the ones often depicted in films.

These are generally luxury, pre-war buildings located on prime stretches of real estate along Park Avenue, Museum Mile, or Central Park West. In these buildings, you’ll not only find doormen but doormen dressed just like they do in the movies—in other words, wearing antiquated-looking uniforms with white gloves.

These doormen will flag a cab for you in a downpour, open doors for you when you walk in or out of the building, and do anything else they can do, provided it is appropriate. But these aren’t the only doormen you’ll encounter in New York City.

Most New York City doorman buildings are co-ops, many catering to middle-income families, and few of these buildings are “white-glove.”

In fact, in most doorman buildings, the staff neither wear white gloves nor suits that look like they were purchased after someone wrapped production on a costume drama set in the 19th century. But don’t judge a book by its cover.

Even without the white gloves and tails, these doormen still do many things for residents, including accepting packages, helping with heavy lifting, and greeting you and your family as you come and go throughout the day.

The final tier of buildings that are sometimes falsely classified as doormen buildings is those staffed with 24-hour security guards. In this case, you still do have someone sitting in the entrance and monitoring who comes and goes, but technically, their job is simply security.

They may be nice to you or accept your packages, but this is technically not part of any security guard’s job. And this raises an important question: What are the duties of a doorman versus a security guard?

Cons of Doorman building in NYC

Like everything in life, comfort and efficiency both come at a cost. From a strictly financial standpoint, buildings with doormen are generally more expensive.

Manhattan Doorman vs non Doorman buildings comps - Doorman building in NYC:

The monthly rent difference between doorman and non-doorman buildings has remained relatively constant at $1000/month over the past ten years. Indeed, according to the WSJ, the average price per square foot is 65% higher in buildings with doormen than those with no doorman. Moreover, large holiday tips are somewhat expected and certainly worth considering.

Some believe that having a doorman is intrusive. Indeed, they think that having someone know their schedule and what visitors they have is not worth all the advantages of having a doorman. This is especially true for coops.

street of new york city: Doorman building in NYC

Do you need a doorman?

Don’t forget that this apartment is not merely an investment but also a place you’ll call home. Do you feel warm and fuzzy seeing a friendly face in the lobby? Or would you rather skip the small talk?

Another consideration: Are you embarrassed if the doormen see you coming home at 3 a.m.? If safety is your biggest concern, a doorman will provide security, letting in only building residents and approved guests.

The biggest complaint I get about doormen is that they know too much about your business. They will know every single person you have over to your apartment. If these visitors are troublesome, they will know about it. This can greatly interfere with your privacy.

Ultimately the decision is yours. Would you like the security of having someone open doors for you, monitor building traffic, and receive your dry cleaning? Or would you prefer to save those fees and upgrade the square footage? Thankfully you live in a city with endless possibilities.

When you buy a place, it’s always good to ask for tips and gossip from the doorman, especially when no broker is involved and the seller is putting on the market FSBO.

Give our licensed specialist at NestApple a call to save on broker fees!

Written By: Georges Benoliel

Georges has been working in Wall Street for the last 16 years trading derivatives with hedge funds. He has been an active real estate investor for over a decade. Georges graduated from HEC Business School in Paris and holds a master in Finance from ESADE Barcelona.

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