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Working Fireplaces Set UWS House Hunters' Hearts Ablaze

By Emily Frost | December 29, 2012 7:12pm

UPPER WEST SIDE — Feeling the glow of a new fire flush your cheeks, smelling wood smoke fill the room, and watching flames dance — these are not sensations typically reminiscent of winter in tiny New York City apartments.

But for the handful of apartments with working fireplaces on the Upper West Side, the hearth is the most coveted amenity, real estate experts say.

"It's alluring. It’s charming. It’s cozy," said Mike Mishkin, CEO and founder of Love Where You Live Realty, which specializes in Upper West Side apartment rentals and sales.

"it definitely adds a premium. [The apartment] might rent at a higher price. It might rent faster," he added.

Mishkin said he encounters plenty of people who weren't planning on moving to the Upper West Side, but make the move for the sake of a working fireplace in one of the many prewar brownstones in the neighborhood.

"Some people say they’ll only move for a working fireplace," he said.

And while working fireplaces are rare, Mishkin said he always has at least one apartment with a working fireplace on his roster.

Mishkin said that landlords can be loath to allow tenants to use the fireplaces, for fear of hazards, accidents, and irresponsible use.

Landlords who manage 400 or more units "don’t always know who they’re renting to," he said, adding that "working fireplaces can be a liability."

But he said the landlords he's developed relationships with who manage only one or two brownstones can often stomach having a tenant using the fireplace. And landlords often find that house hunters moving into the Upper West Side "tend to be professional, responsible people." 

Mishkin said that nonworking fireplaces are "a tease" and that he just tells house hunters to consider them as "a mantle."

But he said that before you go out of your way to find yourself a home with a hearth, ask yourself if you really plan to cozy up to it and keep it maintained and in good working order.

"Some people, their eyes grow big [when they hear about the fireplace] and then they seldom use them," said Mishkin.