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Manhattan Loft Guy


July 2012

Jul. 31, 2012 - Jade loft resale at 16 West 19 Street is a strong price, but off 7% since 2007

measure against sponsor sale or $/ft?
The podilicious “1,336 sq ft” Manhattan loft #4E at 16 West 19 Street (Jade) just sold at a dollar per foot price that compares well to other resales in the building, but at a loss to the 2007 sponsor sale, illustrating the difficulty of figuring the best way to view the first resales in a new development. Let’s look first at the loft, then at the building history.

Unit #4E is one of the largest  non-penthouse units in the building, not only with “1,336 sq ft”, but with a floor plan that includes 2 bedrooms and 3 full baths. In this line, the pod is on an outside wall, rather than free-standing, an arrangement that might make it a trifle more conventional, and much more like a Pullman kitchen. As I have now said in probably each post about the building, the pod design conceit is a love-it-or-hate-it, feature-or-bug element. I can’t imagine that many people who need a real working kitchen would give Jade a second look, but there is probably a huge buyer pool for whom (as Triple Mint daid 6 years ago) the most important kitchen appliance is a corkscrew (see my June 30, 2006, the newest new kitchen (in Flatiron, not Chelsea, if that needs explanation).

To get back to my original question, it is hard ot know the best way to talk about new development resales. As I suggested, #4E at $1,171/ft ($1.565mm) compares well to most recent resales in this 2007 new development, but compared to the sponsor sale on November 29, 2007 at $1,680,112 that re-sale is down 6.8%. Of the 6 re-sales covered in my last two posts in the building (June 2, surprise: Jade loft re-sells +8% over 2007 purchase at 16 West 19 Street, and August 28, 2011, 3 sales around the break-even point at Jade, 16 West 19 Street lofts), only two were at higher price-per-foot values yet only two did worse on a percentage basis compared to the sponsor sale prices for each unit.

One day I will devote an entire post to the question of whether sponsor sale prices are truly market prices, but that day is not today . (Note to self …) For now, just accept that loft #4E at $1,172/ft looks like a pretty strong value in this building, despite the fact that it represented a loss for the 2007-buyer-turned-2012-seller.

© Sandy Mattingly 2012

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Jul. 30, 2012 - 60 Beach Street gut loft project goes for gold, gets world record

I do not understand this. At. All.
I am going to posit that pretty much all of the sales history of the recently sold “2,557 sq ft” Manhattan loft #4D at 60 Beach Street makes no sense: 

  • sold by sponsor Dec 21, 2010 $1,438,003
  • re-sold January 3, 2012 $2.455mm (after asking as high as $2.995mm)
  • re-sold July 12, 2012 $3.05mm (ask: $2.8mm)

I can make it worse, but I still can’t understand it: the loft was marketed as as total gut job (“opportunity to create your dream loft” this time; “brilliant footprint ... very susceptible to anyone's architectural fantasies” in 2011).

In percentage terms, the first re-sale gained 71% in 13 months; the second gained 24% in 18 months. I have a theory about the first re-sale (that sponsor sale had to be some kind of sweetheart or related party transaction); on the second one, I have … nothing. No clue. No (rational) guess. Just a fall back to The Market is not always (ha!) rational. (If you can do better, please do!) [UPDATE 8.1.12: many thanks to reader Magic for the unusual backstory; see his comment below about the time-limited option of the January 2012 seller. An efficient market theorist would look at that sale as not a market sale (willing seller + willing buyer, neither acting under compulsion.]

revenge of the anti-stagers?
With yesterday’s terrific New York Times article about staging (Ruthless Came the Stager; check the comments for some [amusing?] people who don’t ‘get’ staging, many of whom think that staging is [merely] ‘neutering’) still very much on my mind (Note To Self … continue the discussion in my July 28, ruthless stagers, indeed! NY Times nails story about marketing apartments (and lofts!)), it is perhaps significant that the loft did not sell well fully furnished and only sold (really) well when it was all but an empty shell. Of course, that’s weird, too.

Empty lofts (probably even more than empty apartments) are not supposed to present well. The two interior photos for the oh-so-successful sale (to market April 23 at $2.8mm, in contract by May 10 at $3.05mm) make it hard to appreciate how big the thing is, and make it plain how primitive the space is (even the kitchen, viewed only at a tough angle). Perhaps the message is that a gut job loft is more easily sold as a floor plan, with an in-person visit needed only to get a sense of the light and ‘volume’.

When it was marketed for a long time in 2011 it was no less a project, but furnished. Did the furniture make it harder to understand??

That full history in 2011, which lead to a (technically) successful result:

Dec 21, 2010 bought from sponsor $1,438,003
Jan 8, 2011 new to market $2.995mm
Mar 18   $2.795mm
Aug 11 hiatus  
Sept 2 change firm $2.5mm
Jan 3, 2012 sold $2.455mm

If all you knew about this loft ended there, you would say this was a very successful campaign that just took a while (and two firms) to find the market. Granted, the late 2011 floor plan makes no sense (step off the elevator into the second bedroom? room dimensions are … off) but it is obvious that you are going to blow the whole thing up anyway. Selling a total gut job at $960/ft seems reasonable.

But for that buyer to find another set of buyers within 5 months at $1,193/ft … changes the narrative to an alarming degree. I am only going to say it one more time, then end quickly: this sequence cannot be rationally explained.

Somebody just paid $3.05mm for the exact same loft they could have bought at $2.5mm less than a year earlier. Worse, for an Efficient Market Theorist, some other bidder forced them to pay 9% more than the asking price, so there were at least two sets of buyers who missed the 2011 opportunity.


© Sandy Mattingly 2012



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Jul. 28, 2012 - ruthless stagers, indeed! NY Times nails story about marketing apartments (and lofts!)

to be bookmarked by 98% of sentient agents
Honestly, I would applaud the featured article in tomorrow’s Sunday Real Estate section in the New York Times, Ruthless Came the Stager, even if Elissa Gootman had not spelled my name right (or had not spelled it at all). She hits some very important points about how staging (changing the home that sellers live in into the home that buyers connect with) even if some things can only be hinted at, even with a piece that takes up the valuable real estate of half the front page of the real estate section and a full interior page. And that set of Before and After photos is an awesome set of real world examples (in sliding interactive form here), showing both what can be done and how hard it can be to live with it after it is ‘done’.

always beneficial, though not always worth it
It is a fascinating thing to see the end result of Gootman’s reporting, after having been part of the process. She (and her editor) had their own ideas about the article, which were not clear in our “let’s talk about staging” conversation and follow up emails. Of course if I had written it it would be a different piece, but I make that obvious point as an observation rather than a criticism. The thing that makes the article valuable, to me, is that Before / After slideshow, with the high-end loft on 17th Street being at one end of the market and the brave-but-anonymous Village 3-bedroom being in the heart of the market.

Of course I wish that she had quoted me more often, as I said some very insightful things. (Ha!) One of them is pretty evident, in a reading between the lines (and the pix) way. Staging a property for sale is always beneficial (it will make a loft more attractive in buyer eyes), but it is not always worth it.That perhaps counter-intuitive point is based on two kinds of costs, one of which Gootman tots up and one of which is particularly evident in the Village teenager room photos.

I have never seen a rigorous study that proves that staging actually does what it is supposed to do: get a higher price in a shorter time. I absolutely believe that it works this way (indeed, it seems obvious), but I simply have trouble proving it. Especially when you are asked (as all sellers do) “how do you know that spending $12,500 [as with the Greenwich Village 3-bedroom] will generate more than that in sales price?” The short answer has to start with “trust me, and my experience, on this”, but that can be a tough sell to a data-intensive or show-me client. After all, one of the main themes of Manhattan Loft Guy is the comps are the comps are the comps. Of course, another theme in this blog over the years has been that individual buyers and sellers reach agreement on value that are not necessarily tied to the ‘dictates’ of The Market, as expressed through comparable sales.

Here is the main ‘expense’ that I think keeps many sellers from staging on a significant level: the stress and strain of living in The Future Buyer’s Home while you are trying to sell. Gootman has specific difficult choices the two sets of sellers made:

  • the 17th Street vegetarian swallowing the cowhide rug
  • a treadmill sent into storage
  • the “very valuable” lamp and parrot having to vacate the Village apartment, along with the family dining table (where did the parrot go?)
  • the 17th Street children trading in their playroom (and train table) for a very adult breakfast nook
  • (and my favorite example) the Village teenager trading in her oh-so-authentic ‘lifestyle’ for a “parent’s dream of what a teeenager’s bedroom could be”

Let’s focus on my favorite: think about how hard it is to get a teenager to (a) be comfortable living in that After bedroom or (b) keeping the After room from drifting into Before condition. (I have never met a stager who can get a teenager to keep clothes off the floor.) That poor kid loses her stuffed animals, and her fan, and her posters; I doubt that sleeping in a full-size bed feels like sufficient compensation.

“Ruthless” is the right word for a stager who can do that to a teenager, or one who can create two “showcases of minimalist design” where there had been regular old children’s rooms on 17th Street.

Selling your loft, staged or not, is a high-stress activity. Even buyers who are highly motivated usually tire of the effort required to keep a space show-ready, the ‘small’ things such as

  • retrieving the kitchen appliances that used to sit on a counter from a cabinet, every time the Cuisinart is to be used or bread is to be made (the coffee maker usually wins)
  • hiding the shampoo, etc, etc, etc after every shower
  • resisting the temptation to post your child’s latest ‘art’ on the frig

The longer it takes to sell your home, the greater the basic stress, compounded by any artificial living constraints from staging. (It doesn’t count if all you get out of the staging is a set of lovely photos, kinda like we real estate agents with glam shots on our business cards who show up for appointments as our everyday schlubs.)

I once had clients who lived in a very small 2-bedroom with two pre-school children. Their motivation to sell was high, and their commitment to de-cluttering was 11 on a 10 point scale. Every day when the parents took the children out for a playground visit or a play date they spent 20 minutes putting every last toy in storage boxes and clearing the kitchen counters. I don’t expect to ever have clients like that again.

I may have to revisit this staging article, as there are lots and lots of things to talk about. So I sympathize with Gootman and her editor, and commend their excellent work. I will close for now with a link to my July 12, a tale of 2 lofts: did (removable) decor add $126/ft to value of one 32 West 18 Street loft?, a post I wrote after talking at length to Gootman and somewhat with this topic in mind. That was a rare exercise of aesthetics for me, looking at two essentially identical lofts with totally different ‘feels’ because of how they were decorated. There was nothing wrong with the one loft, but that other was just spectacular, a difference accomplished with only a few changes in materials, but mostly with minimalist decor and (especially) window treatments.

NY Times web gap?
The jump page of the hard copy newspaper articlehas a text box, You Won’t Recognize the Place, with “some more obscure home staging tips, courtesy of the professionals”, including one identifying me as “a broker who blogs as Manhattan Loft Guy”(!!). I can’t find that text box anywhere on the Times site on-line. Am I missing it??

To be continued...

© Sandy Mattingly 2012


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Jul. 26, 2012 - 55 Great Jones Street loft with unobstructed views + potential sells for $1,016/ft

reading between the lines, and pix

You could just “[p]aint and move right in” to the “2,300 sq ft” Manhattan loft on the 4th floor at 55 Great Jones Street “or [you could] update with your own vision”, as the broker babble outlines your options. But in view of the fact that StreetEasy has only two interior listing photos and no as-is floor plan (the listing floor plan is an “alternate”; the Corcoran website has the current floor plan [click on “2”] and 3 more interior photos), the smart money says you will at least update, and probably renovate. The “renovated bathrooms [and] open kitchen” notwithstanding, the babble is all about bones, and potential.

easily convertible to two or more bedrooms. Paint and move right in or update with your own vision, this flexible apartment with unobstructed light and views is an amazing opportunity. A manual pressure elevator opens up to your own full floor apartment with sixteen over-sized windows, hardwood floors, 11'+ ceilings, renovated bathrooms, open kitchen, W/D in apartment, and an open floorplan with north, east, south and west exposures. This intimate self-managed coop is located in the perfect NoHo location ….

Not that these choices made it hard for The Market to swallow this loft:

Feb 21 new to market $2.185mm
Mar 22 contract   
May 31 sold $2.366mm

That’s 30 days to contract after a bidding war, to get $1,016/ft, $181,000 or 8% over the ask. Not hard to swallow at all.

old school includes self management, manual pressure elevator
I am not sure which fact about the building is a more potent indicator of an old school Manhattan loft building, that it is self-managed or that it has a manual pressure elevator. Each is fitting for a 7-story 6-unit coop that was formed (possibly by residents) in 1980. Even many of those pioneering coops have moved to professional management, rather than doing everything themselves or hiring their own professionals and maintenance workers. And people get tired of having to run a manual elevator back to the street level each time after they use it to get home with ‘stuff’. But not these hardy cooperators. (Yet.)

With all this ‘cooperation’, it is no wonder that the maintenance is $1,200/mo, a spare $0.52/ft that would put many other no-frills coops to shame. With one of the missing frills being a mortgage, the only part of the maintenance that will be tax deductible is for real estate taxes. That is a very conservative way shareholders to their successors.

don’t let the A.I.R. bogeyman get ya
It is nice to see a marketing campaign that both identifies a problem (“established AIR co-op”) and the practical (almost) solution (“AIR waivers are accepted”). It is a dirty little secret of the oh-so-hot Noho that there are buildings here zoned M1-A or M1-B, and subject to the same Artist in Residence restrictions for legal residential living in Joint Live Work Quarters For Artists as most of Soho.

That little wrinkle did not slow down the sale, or dampen the market, either.

© Sandy Mattingly 2012

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Jul. 25, 2012 - sometimes the bear gets you: 245 Seventh Avenue mini-loft sells 22% off from peak sale

Froth + Peak + Trough + Thaw need a 5th step
Knowing that the last time the “981 sq ft” Manhattan loft #4C at 245 Seventh Avenue was almost exactly at The Peak of the overall Manhattan residential real estate market, you might expect that it would have met with some resistance if offered in late 2011 at only a 4% discount to that Peak-y sale. And you would not be surprised that the 2011 asking price had to be dropped to an 8% discount from Peak in order to get a contract. But you might be surprised to see how big a negotiated discount it took to strike that deal.

I was surprised by the spread between the last two dollar numbers in this sequence:

Mar 20, 2008 sold $1.275mm
Sept 29, 2011 new to market $1.225mm
Nov 19   $1.175mm
Feb 7, 2012 contract  
June 5 sold $995,000

That prior sale at $1.275mm is about as Peak as a closing price can be, sitting 11 days before the end of the first quarter of 2008. The 2011 marketing campaign began well after the 4-step sequence I described in my July 17, bromancing The Miller: squiggly chart explains (not quite) everything about Manhattan real estate trends, which reminds me that I should have added a fifth step to that sequence, Rebound, to describe the more or less flat 2010-2011-2012 market period.

The #4C seller knew that The Market had peaked, then dropped, and then rebounded; it took a difficult negotiation for him to realize that the rebound was not as large as he thought, at least not at the northeast corner of Seventh Avenue and 25th Street. Or, at least not for him.

why does the sale look more like Trough than Rebound?
You might be of the view that the trough in the overall Manhattan market was in the range of a 20% to 30% decline from Peak values. In which case you’d be perfectly happy with a spread of $1.275mm at the Peak and a resale at $995,000, but only if that resale was in the Trough period in 2009. A June 2012 sale should be well into Rebound territory.

If you were the #4C seller, you would have expected your loft to place no worse in 2011 than in the range of the upstairs and downstairs neighbors who sold essentially the same lofts 3 months before #4C came to market.

Upstairs, loft #5C came out in March 2011 with a brag-worthy kitchen and master bath, but needed two price drops (from the original $1.275mm, another over-reach) to sell on June 29, 2011 at $1.13mm. Downstairs, loft #3C seems to have taken advantage of the #5C over-reach by coming out in April at (only) $1.1mm then finding a quick contract and closing on June 6, 2011 at $1.06mm. Doesn’t that look like an efficient market that prices these small lofts on a small premium for each higher floor? Shouldn’t #4C with its “beautifully designed kitchen [and] giant master bathroom with Jacuzzi tub and shower stall” slot rationally somewhere near the middle of those two other sales, ending more or less at $1.095mm?

Of course the market can’t be expected to perform quite that precisely. But it looks as though the market punished #4C by $100,000 or so.

The best guess for a rational explanation for something like this (which does not always have a rational explanation, of course) is that the buyer pool was relatively thin, so hitting the comps was more a hit-or-miss affair. That is still my best guess, as #5C and #3C in June 2011 might have exhausted the small loft buyer pool in the micro-nabe if you define the Chelsea Mercantile as outside the micro-nabe. The photos provide a further hint, and the deed record yet another. There is no sign of habitation in the listing photos, which means the loft may not have shown as well as the (dressed) competition upstairs and down and that buyers may have felt the seller should be more negotiable because he had already moved out. And the deed record has a notice address in London, implying that the seller had moved rather far out.

So, a rational explanation is that the unique buyer interested in #4C felt that the unique seller of #4C was under a little more pressure than the sellers of #3C and #5C, and tested that feeling by low-balling to start a negotiation after the listing had matured a bit. This works, if it works at all, so long as the unique buyer interested in #4C is the only buyer interested enough in #4C to bid.

My guess is that is what happened. Costing the #4C seller (in London) about $100,000. Ouch.

By the way, if you’d like to see what Trough really looked like for small lofts in this building, note the prior sale of #3C: February 23, 2009 at $800,000, by a seller who so needed to sell that the loft came to market 10 weeks after Lehman filed for bankruptcy, in the teeth of the nuclear winter. (That seller had an excuse, and a reason to sell quickly: that deed record identifies the seller as a decedent’s estate.) You can measure the Trough to Rebound in this little corner of the Manhattan loft world by that stubborn sale of #3C in February 2009 at $800,00 and the next sale of #3C in June 2011 at $1.06mm. Let’s commit a rounding error and call that a 25% rebound up from Trough.

despite the west and north windows
The #4C floor plan is odd, in a way that is mentioned in the broker babble, and in a way that is not repeated in the same lofts directly above and below: that “giant master bathroom [has a] Jacuzzi tub and shower stall [and] west and north windows”. That lone north window cannot be proven to have impacted value, of course, as lofts #3C and #5C sold for more than #4C. But it is an odd thing to see, and an odd thing to babble about.

And, as it happens, an odd thing to end my blogging-while-on-West-Coast-vacation series on. Such is life.

© Sandy Mattingly 2012


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Jul. 23, 2012 - double bold-faced loft sale at 354 Broome Street: a harbinger or just a Bright Shiny Object?

getting tired of the Jedi mind trick
The recent sale of the Manhattan loft #3H at 354 Broome Street was a Bright Shiny Object for Jessica Gould Keil in the New York Post last week, in part because she was able to run a Victoria's Secret photo. (How could the Post avoid a Victoria's Secret photo?) The hook for music fans of a certain age was the connection to The Strokes. The hook for Manhattan Loft Guy was the gain from 2010. (Simple me.) The same loft that sold for $1.025mm in January 2010 just sold again for $1.25mm. Efficient market fans would hope that the loft was dramatically improved in the intervening 2 years, but I have given you enough hints to know that this loft will disappoint the rational market fans.

I can find some differences in the condition of the loft circa 2010 and currently, but not enough to account for the recent 22% gain. This was then:

Triple mint architecturally designed Pre-war loft … . this 1015 sq ft loft features original columns, 10 ft + beamed ceilings, 2 spa like bathrooms (with heated floors), 2 fully outfitted walk in closets and an over-sized master bedroom with en suite bath. The Chef's Poggenpohl kitchen sports Sub-Zero/ Miele appliances ... in ceiling BandW 2-zone sound system, central air conditioning and custom Poliform walk in closets.

This is now:

architecturally designed loft …. generous master suite with custom Poliform walk-in closet, this approximately 1,015-square foot 2-bathroom loft with office/library …. Poggenpohl kitchen includes a Sub-Zero refrigerator and Miele appliances: dishwasher, built-in coffee maker, gas cooktop, and convection oven. ... central air conditioning, an enormous utility closet, heated floors in the bathrooms, in-ceiling BandW 2-zone sound system, and original columns.

The floor plans show that the kitchen used to have a larger footprint and there was a now-absent wall setting off an office in front (then, now). But the two sets of babble imply the same high-end finishes throughout, including the sound system and Poliform closets.

was that then, and is this now?
Of course, I cheated a bit in describing the earlier sale as a 2010 sale. Yes, it closed for $1.025mm on January 25, 2010 but that contract was entered into by November 6, 2009.

The November 2009 market was a post-Thaw market, but just barely. One could make a rational argument that the "2010" sale was not in equivalent conditions to the current market, but $225,000 does not leave enough room for rationality, in my mind, at least.

Regular readers of Manhattan Loft Guy know that I tend to focus on Bright Shiny Objects, usually being sales that are 'interesting' for working against the overall trend lines of the Manhattan residential real estate market. Lately, that has sometimes taken the form of wondering whether a Jedi mind trick is to blame for certain recent sales at higher prices without a matching increase in the quality of the loft. For example:

Not to go all Nostradamus on ya, but I have to wonder if this type of BSO sale is not so much an outlier but the sign of a market in transition, and that the trend line will (eventually) show that The Market began to pick up in mid 2012. Not predicting, remember; just wondering. Now I have another filter for my Confirmation Bias to work through. You've been warned.

building record: shattered!
The last three sales in the building were at substantially lower values than #3H at $1,232/ft. The “[d]ramatic and beautifully designed” #4C sold at $903/ft in September 2011; the “dramatic” loft #6B with “generous chef's kitchen” sold for $935/ft in May 2011; and the (yes, again) “dramatic” loft #5E  with “beautifully renovated and minimal kitchen” (not sure what that means) sold for $911/ft in December 2010. With one exception, you have to go to just after The Peak to see a 4-figure price per foot, when the loft #5G (“Triple Mint Architectural Renovation”) sold at $1,088/ft.

That #5G sale seems to be the building record, as of a month ago, though it was challenged by the 2010 sale of loft #3H (you remember: $1.025mm, or $1,010/ft).

Now look again at #3H on June 27, 2012: $1.25mm, or $1,232/ft. Maybe a Jedi mind trick, after all....

© Sandy Mattingly 2012
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Jul. 22, 2012 - diversion of a sunny west coast, liquid kind

hint: sparse blogging may result
There’s a reason why my blogging schedule has been light the last few days, a situation that may continue well into this week. This opinion column from the Vancouver Sun (In praise of getting drunk on a summer afternoon) has some hints. Not that I am getting drunk this afternoon, though there is some drinking involved, as we are away on vacation. Away on vacation in (now, sunny) British Columbia, where I saw this headline in the newspaper of the lady sitting across from me on the ferry yesterday from Nanaimo to Gabriola, and picked up her discarded newspaper when she was finished.

So: away from home, with many distractions from blogging, and many opportunities to sit in the sun (or out, frankly), with beer, wine or something else. Life is good.

But the Pete McMartin piece is interesting in its own right. Perhaps a writerly trick, as he complains about things he admits to doing himself, which is sometimes the blogger’s lot as well. It is irritating to read blogs, tweets, even FB posts I suppose, that are strident: LOVE this! HATE that! Sometimes we need to allow room for nuance, or mere reflection that is not intended to persuade or preach, but just to … breathe.

Stop and smell the coffee, look at the roses, or (yes) have another daylight drink. Gonna stop now and get a mid-afternoon glass of wine. Life is good. Enjoy something today. (Anything.)

© Sandy Mattingly 2012

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Jul. 20, 2012 - there are 2nd floor lofts with better views than this 208 Fifth Avenue loft, but not many

kIller views, unless the tour bus idles
One of my longstanding (unrequited) Manhattan Loft Guy Note(s) to Self ... has to do with second story lofts, and whether there is a discernible market discount for lofts that may be as low as 10 feet above the sidewalk. Today is not the day to cross that note off the list, as the most exciting thing about the "1,600 sq ft" Manhattan loft #2E at 208 Fifth Avenue is not the view of the sidewalk close below, but the view of the park across the street.

It is difficult to comp the #2E sale at $1.7mm (forwards or backwards) because, among other things, it is hard to find those "1,600 sq ft". So it is hard to say what a second floor view of Madison Square Park is worth. But it is easy to see that, awesome as it is, it was not worth what the sellers thought it was worth.

dollars are hard, feet are soft, in this One Bed Wonder
The sellers asked for $1.85mm. The market would pay only $1.7mm, and that only after 4 months without a contract or price drop. Loft #2E came out on January 12, found that buyer at an 8% discount by May 14, and closed on June 6 at that $1.7mm. StreetEasy computes that as $1,062/ft, but I have my doubts.

There are some challenges in the #2E floor plan, including the single bathroom and the single wall of windows. But that single wall is very high, with windows that are very large. And did I mention the greenery out the large windows? I can see a lot of people over-paying for a view like that.

The only place to sleep in this configuration is up the stairs to the sleep loft on top of the kitchen. With 14 foot ceilings you can (just barely) get away with this usage, without cooks and kitchen visitors constantly ducking their heads. But there is no sound privacy, as whoever is in that bed can hear everything else that goes on in the loft. No place to hide a sleeping guest, even if you could squeeze a Murphy in somewhere. In an uptown condo, you’d probably find 3 bedrooms in “1,600 sq ft”, but on Fifth Avenue opposite Madison Square, it’s just a One Bed Wonder.

There is one more problem with the floor plan: how do you find "1,600 sq ft"? There are no dimensions on the floor plan, but the same unit on the 5th floor had them when it did not sell in 2010. That floor plan claimed a width of 26’8” and extends further than the 2nd floor loft, with that dressing room and bathroom. (Note that the 5th floor has 4 sets of wall beams on the north wall, while the #2E floor plan has only 3 on each long wall.) Adding the room length dimensions on the 5th floor plan gives a space 45 feet long without that dressing room / bath extension. No coop math is simple, but the simple geometry yields 1,200 sq ft in the #2E floor plan, using #5E dimensions.

On that basis, loft #2E really sold for a very healthy $1,417/ft. But that’s too flaky an analysis to put much stock in.

Loft #5E did not sell in 2010 even when asking $1.499mm, but #2E has a level of sophistication missing on the 5th floor.

meticulously renovated, architect-designed .... Bleached southern yellow pine hardwood floors throughout. Open chef's kitchen with top-of-the-line appliances (Fisher and Paykel refrigerator and dishwasher, and Bertazzoni stove). Washer/dryer. And custom bookshelves that anchor the main living area to the mezzanine.

It didn’t get $1.85mm, but $1.7mm looks pretty good from the second floor, whether you figure that as $1,062/ft or as $1,417/ft.

© Sandy Mattingly 2012
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Jul. 18, 2012 - 133 West 17 Street loft with open air + potential sells for $1,071/ft

the dog that did not bark
Sometimes a loft that does not sell tells you something as interesting about the market as a loft that does sell. For Exhibit A, I give you the "1,770 sq ft" Manhattan loft #5C at 133 West 17 Street, which did not sell when offered at $1.895mm from March through June 2009. For Exhibit B, I give you the "1,770 sq ft" Manhattan loft #5C at 133 West 17 Street, which was again offered at $1.895mm (from January 6 to April 12 this year), and which sold on May 31. At $1.895mm.

Same loft (obviously). Different markets (obviously).

If you saw yesterday's post (July 17, bromancing The Miller: squiggly chart explains (not quite) everything about Manhattan real estate trends), you saw me in dialogue with The Miller about trends in the overall Manhattan residential real estate market from early 2005 into this year. (At least, you saw me respond to a heckuva chart from The Miller.) If you also follow me on The Twitter (you don't? Note the forced misspelling: @ManhattnLoftGuy), you saw me in actual dialogue with The Miller, as he liked my character-limited formulation of the market from 2006 into 2009: Froth + Peak + Trough + Thaw.

Exhibit A is loft #5C at the Trough, not selling off an ask of $1.895mm.

second-guessing seller, only to make a point
You see what the seller did wrong in 2009, right? (At least "wrong" if they really wanted to sell then.) She left the market as it was beginning to thaw out of Nuclear Winter (a term with an extravagance of characters for The Twitter.) From a market characterized by very few buyers at any price in early 2009, the changing market in mid-2009 included many more active buyers.

Of course, if the seller’s intention in 2009 was to sell at or close to $1.895mm if she could, she did exactly the right thing in retreating from a market that (still) was not going to pay them close to her ask.

For that, she needed a 5th step in a shifting market: Rebound. That stage began, in broad terms, in 2010 and (as the overall market remains more or less flat since then) the Rebound stage persists to this day.

The 2012 market had little trouble finding a buyer at $1.895mm, generating a full-price deal within 100 days, at a price simply unavailable in early 2009. Of course, for my purposes I wish the seller had tried longer in 2009 and at lower prices, but the market does not act to my whims. Still. Darn.

walls of windows = possibilities
The marketing campaign leads with 3 photos of what is outside the windows (the next two feature the windows from the inside as much as anything else), with text that leads with the "two walls of windows". There is nary a mention of finishes, and the interior photos make it guesswork to assess the quality or vintage of the kitchen or two bathrooms.

Note that the modifiers in this babble have nothing to do with quality:

fifth floor home features two walls of windows allowing this loft to accommodate three bedrooms, including a master bedroom suite and home office. The large open kitchen flows into an expansive and gracious living room and dining area. Included in the apartment is a full laundry and second bathroom. At over 1,700 square feet, this floor plan allows for comfortable, flexible living with a design that allows you to move right in or make your own design changes.

The lack of bragging notwithstanding, the loft sold at $1,071/ft. This value compares very favorably to the last two lofts that sold in the building, one of which was claimed as a triple mint beauty.

The current record holder in the building on a dollar per foot basis is the “1,352 sq ft” loft #3A, which sold on October 7, 2010 (in the Rebound step) for well above ask at $1.457mm ($1,078/ft). That one was not only brag-worthy, but recently so:

South facing triple mint loft has one bedroom + home office, two full baths, enormous beamed ceilings, huge windows and hardwood floors! Located on one of the best tree lined blocks in prime Chelsea, the recent renovation is the perfect blend of authentic loft and 21st century aesthetic. Currently being used as two bedrooms, this bright space features a large state-of-the-art chef’s kitchen with custom Italian designer cabinets, Silestone countertops, appliances by Sub-Zero, Miele and Bosch, separate pantry and private washer & dryer. The two full bathrooms incorporate all new fixtures and Bisazza tile. Generous closets throughout make storage a snap.

second-guessing seller, only to make a different point
This is weird: in more or less similar market conditions, #3A sells at $1,078/ft as a triple mint beauty, then #5C sells at $1,071/ft with a marketing campaign that focuses on what is outside the windows. In the most gentle way possible, I have to wonder if the #5C seller priced too low in 2021, as the hyper-local market may be a little more rewarding in 2012 than it was even in 2010.

Weird, indeed. But then, individual data points often are.

© Sandy Mattingly 2012
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Jul. 17, 2012 - bromancing The Miller: squiggly chart explains (not quite) everything about Manhattan real estate trends

this is old, but so am I
You don’t have to be a long-time reader of manhattan Loft Guy to know I have a thing for The Appraiser Who Must Be Named, aka the appraiser who must be named The Miller as a sign of respect for his very public efforts to increase transparency in the Manhattan residential real estate market. His 3 Cents Worth series of now all-too-occasional charts on Curbed includes this gem from June 5, Condo Inventory At Low Tide In Sea of Bad Analogies, which with 7 years worth of squiggles and bars of monthly inventory data and text arrows, provides a snapshot of the overall Manhattan residential real estate market since early 2005.

Without tracking prices or volume, this chart packs a wallop. I suggest you bookmark it, as it is worth repeat visits.

The Miller’s focus in this chart is on new condo development sales as a percentage of all sales, and on the relationship between condo inventory and coop inventory. Long-time readers of Manhattan loft guy and anyone else familiar with the macro stats for this market are familiar with the trend points of 2007 being the year of greatest sales volume, The Peak in recorded pricing landing in the first quarter of 2008, the September 15, 2008 Lehman Brothers bankruptcy filing establishing a bright-line Before-and-After, what I usually term the nuclear winter settling in right after Lehman, followed by a thaw beginning in mid-2009.

With this chart, The Miller layers in the power of new development sales (and 'easy' credit) in driving the overall Manhattan market beginning in early 2006, then the beginning of credit tightening in the third quarter of 2007, bringing a slowdown in coop and condo resales but not (yet) in new development sales, because of the longer time-lag between signed contracts and new development closings. That trend was exacerbated by the Lehman bankruptcy, as overall sales volume plummeted. By mid-2009, the new development condo pipeline was thinning, and a year later coop inventory overtook all condo inventory, a return to the historical norm that had not been seen in 4 years of Froth + Peak + Trough + Thaw.

Great stuff. Play with it. Internalize it. (Or live a normal life; it's your choice.)

© Sandy Mattingly 2012

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Jul. 16, 2012 - it should not be this hard to get the right price, as 40 West 15 Street loft (finally) sells above ask

patience, of course, is a virtue (if rewarded)
The listing history for the “2,000 sq ft” Manhattan loft #2A at 40 West 15 Street involves several efforts, but considering that it sold for $2mm on July 2, the numbers are just weird:

Mar 21, 2011 new to market $2.2mm
May 18   $1.995mm
June 23 hiatus  
July 5 FSBO!  
Sept 28 hiatus  
Oct 20 change firm  
Dec 20 hiatus  
Feb 23, 2012 back on market  
April 25 contract  
July 2 sold $2mm

Put aside the 3 periods when it was off the market (that last one was long, wasn’t it?) and note that the loft was marketed within 10% of the final clearing price for the entire (active) 11 month marketing period, and low for the last (active) 9 month marketing period.

Why would a loft at the right price take so long to sell? (hint: there is no obvious or rational answer to this question)

the world is cruel, The Market is a female dog
I am not going to knock the decision to go For Sale By Owner here, especially as the price was right. I have no idea what the actual marketing looked like, but I assume that the FSBO effort attracted attention from at least a significant part of the relevant buyer pool. (After all, PruDE had it from October into December and then February nearly through April before finding buyers who would sign a contract.)

Let’s just say that there was a very active market for lofts about 2,000 sq ft and/or valued at about $2mm overlapping with the extended campaign to sell loft #2A.  Here is a selection of downtown Manhattan lofts of similar size and/or price that sold before loft #2A (from the Master List of Manhattan Lofts Sold Since November 2008, of course):

377 West 11 St #3C “2,366 sq ft” 5/15/2012 $2,100,000
260 Park Avenue South #2E “1,662 sq ft” 5/14/2012 $1,875,000
125 East 12 St #1B “2,229 sq ft” 5/2/2012 $1,815,000
56 Thomas St #5 “1,789 sq ft” 4/30/2012 $2,117,000
25 West 15 St #7 “1,800 sq ft” 4/16/2012 $1,707,500
252 Seventh Av #7A “2,053 sq ft” 4/4/2012 $2,150,000
360 West 36 St #6N “2,825 sq ft” 3/19/2012 $1,900,000
38 Warren St #7C “1,850 sq ft” 3/15/2012 $2,150,000
22 Warren St #4 “1,800 sq ft” 2/29/2012 $1,900,000
335 West 38 St #11 “2,600 sq ft” 2/7/2012 $2,000,000
130 West 30 St #8C “2,064 sq ft” 1/23/2012 $1,850,000
50 West 15 St #9D “1,611 sq ft” 1/19/2012 $2,180,000
121 West 19 St #9A “1,631 sq ft” 1/12/2012 $1,950,000
54 East 11 St #3 “2,200 sq ft” 12/15/2011 $2,205,000
356 Broadway #5C “2,200 sq ft” 12/14/2011 $1,975,000
561 Broadway #5A “2,200 sq ft” 12/14/2011 $2,000,000
233 West 26 St #5W “2,000 sq ft” 12/13/2011 $1,875,000
22 West 26 St #4D “2,190 sq ft” 11/22/2011 $2,015,000
121 West 19 St #5G “1,915 sq ft” 11/15/2011 $2,000,000
105 Fifth Av #11D “1,925 sq ft” 11/9/2011 $1,800,000
140 Fifth Av #8B “2,000 sq ft” 10/18/2011 $2,100,000
270 Broadway #21B “2,554 sq ft” 10/14/2011 $2,065,000
43 West 21 St #3R “1,850 sq ft” 10/5/2011 $2,040,000
249 West 29 St #14 “1,950 sq ft” 9/22/2011 $1,800,000
39 East 20 St #5 “1,963 sq ft” 9/9/2011 $2,100,000
720 Greenwich St #7UV “1,850 sq ft” 8/9/2011 $2,100,000

Not each of these 26 successfully marketed lofts would have been seen as a direct competitor by any one buyer, but this set certainly includes groups of highly relevant comps for different sets of buyers during the time that #2A was actively marketed.

in this case, “authentic” + “move-in” = dated
As a marketing matter, loft #2A is described as “authentic” to call attention to the brick walls, high ceilings, and “over-sized” windows, but also to the beamed ceilings, funky radiator covers, and exposed piping. The phrase “[m]ove-in condition or design to suit your needs” is a classic warning often used with “authentic” lofts to indicate that most buyers would plan some updating. Long-time readers of Manhattan Loft Guy know that I had glass brick in my Tribeca loft in early 1980s, and consider that material a particular marker for late 1970s - early 1980s conversions (see pic #6). You don’t know (until know) that I had those same kitchen cabinets (see pic # 4) in my West 26 Street loft in the 1990s, and I also consider that a marker for late 1970s - early 1980s conversions. (Did you notice that the bathrooms are described only as “full” and are not pictured?)

Most buyers, in short, would look at loft #2A as a candidate for several hundred thousand dollars in improvements.

The footprint is pretty challenging, however. With windows only on the north wall and plumbing stacks (apparently) only in opposite diagonal corners, the current floor plan implies that the kitchen needs to be in front, the bathrooms in back, and the bedrooms in the dark. Certainly an architect would test those plumbing assumptions, and would try to play with light. As it is, that hard office wall to the right front in the main listing photo is a candidate for coming down.

I suspect that many buyers would bite the bullet on interior sleep areas (rather than the awkward locution “bedroom area”) and move that master “bedroom” back by reallocating the many storage nooks and crannies, leaving a more square, more open main living area. But to repeat: few buyers would move-in, as is, despite the polite invitation.

With that additional dollar investment in the offing, that this loft cleared at $1,000/ft is rather remarkable. (Only half the 13 lofts above sold above $1,000/ft.) Did I mention that it sold above the last (old) asking price??

a big move downtown
The buyers came from 86th and Park, from a rental that probably looks something like this (at least the floor plan, if not the newly dressed look, and price). A very “apartment” apartment. Best Manhattan Loft Guy wishes that they enjoy authentic downtown loft living, after they bring their baby up to date, that is.

© Sandy Mattingly 2012


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Jul. 15, 2012 - short diversion / baseball, but not what you think

a lovely piece of writing
It was this paragraph in a short essay that told me that this writer would probably have something to say, and would say it well:

Baseball, in particular, had always seemed both twee and annoying—especially given the baseball lore in the literary, MFA circles I was drifting among—the most intellectual of sports. Those Roger Angell essays. John Updike writing of Ted Williams: Gods do not answer letters. Washington D.C. lawyers in late middle age who can be seen walking down K Street of a spring afternoon, wearing Boston Red Sox caps with their natty business suits and Harvard ties.

The essay starts in an unusual place and ends in an even more unusual place (that paragraph is from the middle). Please don’t be put off when I tell you that the title is Baseball and the Law of God, it comes to me from the website patheos, which is subtitled “Hosting the Conversation on Faith”. Sunday is my day for church, among other things.

Play ball!

© Sandy Mattingly 2012
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Jul. 13, 2012 - renovation premium evident as 720 Greenwich Street lofts sells for 29% over 2010

though extent of renovation is still somewhat unclear
This is how to let the world know the vintage of a renovation used to market a Manhattan loft: “renovated in the last year with …”. No need to worry about what an agent may think of as “recent”, or “new”, or even (sadly) “brand new” (as we discovered about particularly shameless marketing, in my July 11, “fully renovated” 39 East 12 Street lofts sells at 14% premium to 2010, with pre-2010 renovation). When the (probably*) “1,200 sq ft” Manhattan loft #6A at 720 Greenwich Street came to market on February 7 the broker babble was enthusiastic and wonderfully that specific about when the loft was renovated:

Lovingly renovated in the last year with amazing attention to detail as exemplified by the tin ceiling in which every single panel was individually installed. This Corner residence perfectly blends prewar character with contemporary design. ...The coveted A line faces South and East providing quintessential views of charming tree-lined streets and brilliant light all day long. The large kitchen has top of the line Sub- Zero and Bosch appliances, Carrera Marble countertops, a new subway tile back splash, all new hardware, a Wine Refrigerator and a white oak island. Additional features of this XXX mint home include, an open and very spacious living room, ebony-stained maple hardwood floors, upgraded electrical throughout including recessed lighting, well thought out built-ins, outfitted closets, newly installed reclaimed wood pocket doors into the second bedroom and both bathrooms are done in travertine marble.

That they felt the need to describe only some of the detail that followed as “new” (such as new subway tile back splash, all new [kitchen] hardware, and newly installed reclaimed wood pocket doors) suggests that dating a less-than-gut renovation raises interesting problems; discussed further below, alas.

The sales history lines up exactly with a 2011 renovation, causing me to wonder why someone would go to all this trouble (“the tin ceiling in which every single panel was individually installed”) to barely get the enjoyment of living there:

Nov 11, 2010 sold $1.7mm
Feb 7, 2012 new to market $2.15mm
Feb 29 contract  
June 5 sold $2.22mm

That is 3 weeks to contract at a slight premium to the ask; can't ask much more of a marketing campaign than that.

Granted, we have seen larger gains than this on a 2012 sale over 2010 without any intervening renovation, but there are only so many Jedi mind tricks in the market at any one time. (July 5, did a Jedi mind trick garner 40% premium over 2010 for a small loft at 107 West 25 Street? )

a Manhattan Loft Guy fave, with a curveball warning
Previous posts about lofts in this pretty large building (158 units):

Once we are focused on renovation premiums, as in this post, that November 22, 2010 becomes relevant. Even highly relevant. That post discussed two same-line sales to try to assess how valuable a triple mint renovation in one of them was. That analysis was complicated by the fact that one of the sales was recorded close to the trough in the overall Manhattan residential real estate market, but there was enough grist there for a good discussion.

That very valuable renovation probably established a building record at that time for dollars-per-foot (building page here), but here’s the deceptive pitch: that super valuable renovation was of loft #6A before it was renovated (again) in 2011. For those who haven’t clicked over to that highly relevant post yet, here is how I set up the Loft Lab:

In the laboratory of the Manhattan loft market, there are two specimens in 720 Greenwich of interest. One sold in July 2009 for $1.075mm. Said to be “1,200 sq ft”, the key marketing factors for the interior of the loft were (a) “a fabulous floorplan” and (b) “Exposed Brick in every room”. I kid you not! Suffice it to say that the typically cynical buyer of Manhattan lofts would assume that this interior space lacks other charms, so may need to be upgraded, if not uprooted.

The other specimen has the same footprint but was coy about size when it sold ten days ago. It was certainly not coy about the many charms of its interior, dropping babble such as “Stunning”, “contemporary gem”, “totally renovated in XXX Mint Condition”, “maple hardwood floors, 9’ custom maple doors, slate window sills”, “honed granite countertops with top-of-the-line appliances and custom maple cabinetry”, “baths [with] travertine marble walls and floors, with a soaking tub and luxurious shower”, “Stereo wired throughout”. That’s a lot of babble for a “1,200 sq ft” loft, but who am I to quibble?

That gem sold for $1.7mm on November 12 [, 2010].

The babble and photos from 2010 and 2012 establish that loft #6A was renovated between selling at $1.7mm in November 2010 and $2.2m last month, but as I hinted above in parsing the “new” babbling, it is less than crystal clear how extensive the renovation was. The baths were probably not touched, as they are travertine throughout. The maple flooring has a natural finish in the Before pix, but is babbled and shows as ebony After. Of course the ceiling is new!

The kitchen has been changed, from granite countertop to Carrerra, with that “new” backsplash and “new” hardware; I suspect, sadly, that the former “top of the line” appliances are the same as the current top of the line Sub- Zero and Bosch appliances. There are no large format photos available from 2010, but you can see the last marketing campaign with full page pix on the Corcoran site. Comparing the old (pic #3) with the new (pic #4) is inexact, but it appears the island has grown and that the lighting is new.

All of this Before-ing and After-ing leaves me in a state of confusion, if not despair. Yes, loft #6A was renovated between 2010 and 2012. But it was also renovated between 2005 and 2010. Both renovations provoked very favorable market responses, but I (again; still) wonder what the buyer thought about how extensive that 2011 renovation was, and considered that some of what appeared in 2012 as a “perfect[] blend[ of] prewar character with contemporary design” pre-dated the “Loving[] renovat[ion] in the last year with amazing attention to detail as exemplified by the tin ceiling in which every single panel was individually installed”. The evidence was there, in public on Streeteasy and in any REBNY member’s listings data-base.

My fear is that that buyer paid for some renovation that was only thought to be new, only because she thought it to be new. Caveat emptor, indeed.

paging Sergeant Esterhaus
Let’s be careful out there, folks.

(*As noted in the late text, StreetEasy thinks #7A is “1,200 sq ft” when it sold (brrr) in 2009, with an ‘official’ floor plan that matches up with #6A; ballpark the room dimensions and you will guess that the “A” line can’t be larger.)

© Sandy Mattingly 2012
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Jul. 12, 2012 - a tale of 2 lofts: did (removable) decor add $126/ft to value of one 32 West 18 Street loft?

how 2 essentially identical next door lofts can look so different, and what that means in $$$

I am indebted to Jennifer Gould Keil for her Gimme Shelter item in today’s New York Post about a very recent Manhattan loft sale at the Altair 18, 32 West 18 Street. Not so much for the (cute?) rhyme in her lede, as for pointing me a sale that closed this week that I would not otherwise have noticed until the deed gets filed. While it is interesting that the “3,007 sq ft” loft #2A sold quickly slightly above the ask of $3.995mm, I find it fascinating that it sold for 7% higher than the loft next door in May. This pair of not quite identical lofts on the same floor of the same building that sold within 10 weeks of each other makes me wonder how buyers (literally) see lofts.

And by “wonder” I mean more stand-back-in-awe than scramble-to-explain. Which leads me into an aesthetic discussion the likes of which I may never have had in 6+ years of Manhattan Loft Guy data-based blathering. Let’s start with JGK’s rhyme and data, and go from there.

Atoosa on the loosa

Atoosa Rubenstein, the founder of CosmoGirl and former editor of Seventeen, and her husband, Ari, founder and managing partner of Global Trading Systems, have found a buyer for their three-bedroom, three-bathroom Flatiron condo.

The apartment in the Altair 18 building, at 32 W. 18th St., is being snapped up by a mystery buyer for $4 million after a bidding war. The selling price is more than the $3.995 million asking price.

Rubenstein, who is pregnant with twin girls and the mother of 4-year-old daughter Angelika, is trading up to a larger residence on the Upper East Side.

Corcoran Group listing broker Noble Black had no comment.

fraternal twins or Irish twins?
The Altair 18 was a high-end 2006 conversion to condos, with amenities such as doorman, roof deck, and La Palestra health club shared by (and paid by) only 22 units, with two units per floor. The #2A sale, confirmed in our system even though the listing agent would not talk to JGK, was at $4mm yesterday (nice work, JGK!). The “3,292 sq ft” loft #2B closed on May 1 at $4.075mm. Given this sequence, and the fact that both lofts were marketed by the same Corcoran agents, the two sales are not unrelated:

#2B Jan 25 new to market $4.2mm
#2B Feb 16 contract  
#2B May 1 sold $4.075mm
#2A May 8 new to market $3.995mm
#2A ?? contract unknown :-(  
#2A July 11 sold $4mm

Both lofts are variations on the classic Long-and-Narrow loft footprint, with living room and den fronting on 18th Street and the bedrooms backing into the mid-block to the south. #2B is slightly larger (“3,292 sq ft”) with slightly greater utility, built as 3 bedrooms plus den plus 3.5 baths, while #2A (“3,007 sq ft”) has been condensed from 3 bedroom to 2 plus den, with 3 baths. They had the exact same high-end finishes when sold by the sponsor in 2007, when the sponsor clearly thought that the larger #2B had the (slightly) more valuable feet:

#2B Aug 28, 2007 $3,512,968 $1,067/ft
#2A Sept 10, 2007 $3,105,662 $1,033/ft

From all the appears in the respective babble and photos, loft #2B resold in the exact same condition as when delivered by the sponsor, while I find only 3 differences in loft #2A: that 3rd (front) bedroom is a den, the ceiling has been dropped in the living room (slightly) to allow recessed lighting, and the living room floor has been changed to limestone from the white oak that is otherwise prevalent in the rest of the loft, and in #2B.

But, and here’s my point (finally!): the lofts look completely different, in ways that are mostly due to transient decor rather than the few (partial) changes made to one wall and the living room ceiling and floor in #2A. I wonder if those differences, which buyers are supposed to be able to see through, contributed to the swing from relative values in 2007 (#2B premium of 3.3%) to 2012 (#2A premium of 7.4%).

#2B May 1 $4.075mm $1,238/ft
#2A July 11 $4mm $1,330/ft

The dollar per foot differences are not dramatic, but I suspect are driven by impressions that are (mostly) based on things that each of the sellers took with them when they moved. That is to say, my guess is that the #2A seller just (over?) paid for things that were not permanent parts of the loft.

let’s go to the visuals
I found it really helpful to have both sets of listing photos (“Click for large photos”, of course) open in separate windows, so I could easily toggle back and forth.

There’s nothing wrong with loft #2B, with what should be the main photo (pic #2) showing a main public room with great volume, traditional loft elements (such as the high beamed ceilings, column, hardwood floor, huge windows), a fireplace on the left wall, and ceiling light fixtures that are undoubtedly quite expensive.

Loft #2A has the same column, same beamed ceilings, same large windows, but the feel of the main photo (pic #1) is radically different from that of pic #2 next door. The windows are evident with light coming from behind the sheers, but the closed sheers focus you completely on the inside space,m rather than inviting you outside as in pic #2 next door. The flooring is hard to read in the photo but the text says it is white limestone, which gives a different look than the hardwood next door. The fireplace in #2A is obscured by the couch in the main photo, but shows clearly in pic #3, with the strong dark vertical carrying across that side of the room in contrast to the white-on-white fireplace facade in #2B.

The living area in loft #2A is all whites and blacks (floor, walls, ceiling, window wall sheers, all the furniture, fireplace wall, and dramatic photo), with only three items adding the same (red?) color to the white coffee table, and the two bits of green flora in the rear distance. There is one spectacular lighting fixture, with other lighting recessed into the dropped ceiling. Lines are clean horizontals, with the round column being mimicked (intentionally, I assume) in the cut-outs and shape of the two side chairs. This looks like a design magazine.

The living area in loft #2B is nearly exactly the same size and volume, but (again) a different feel. The mahogany window frames complement the dark wood furniture, the picture frames over the fireplace, the fireplace mantle, the area rugs and couch accent pillows, and even the floral art over the sideboard. The choice to have the drapes open obviously highlights the huge windows and beautiful frames, but also places this loft on the historical and industrial block of West 18th Street.

If anything, the two dens are even more different in look and feel. The #2A den (even with the sheers open!) is all light and dark (that massive TV wall woodwork matches the window frame; presumably why the sheers are open), with the color again being green foliage and some red in the flower tops and wall art. Nearly all lines are low, vertical or horizontal. There’s got to be a hidden compartment for the media controls, right?

The den in #2B looks like a family uses it. Comfy couch and easy chair, with throw and pillows that all match the curtains and the color schemes in the adjoining living room. Shelves can’t be minimal with books and (gasp) family photos. Even the foliage has a touch of the unruly.

I could do the same thing with the master bedroom photos, but if you don’t get my point already … you don’t.

What amazes me is how different the lofts feel, yet how much of that difference will be absent after these two sellers moved out. When all the windows are open to 18th Street, and all the rugs and furniture and art work is gone, the lofts will look much more alike than they do in the listing photos. #2A will still have a limestone floor in the large public room, and the black-and-white fireplace wall will still be an eye-catcher, but you probably won’t then notice the difference in ceiling lights or levels.

One more time: I believe that these bits of ephemera drove most of the $92/ft difference in value in favor of #2A in 2012, more than erasing the 2007 difference of $34/ft that used to be in favor of #2B.

Intentionally or not, these two lofts never competed head to head in the current iterations, with #2A coming out days after #2B closed. Someone with the minimalist sensibilities of the #2A sellers might have bought #2B before knowing that #2A even existed. Or the buyers of #2A might have bought it to make it feel more like #2B.

I, for one, love a Manhattan loft world in which two such beautiful and different lofts not only exist, but exist side by side.

for readers with long memories
Yes, I hit #2B back in the day, when it was a difficult resale story in a changing resale market, in my  September 26, 2008, one data point leads to another / net loss on sale at Altair 18. The ‘problems’ that I identified for #2B then should still obtain, and should apply equally to #2A:

I suspect part of the problem here was the second floor location. If I have the right unit in memory, the bedrooms overlooked a parking lot on 18th Street, with some kind of HVAC unit not too far outside at least one window. (I saw this unit in January, when I featured it with another nearby loft listing at a [then] similar price, size and level of finishes; January 18, dueling $4mm open houses at 217 West 19 Street + 32 West 18 St.) No light to speak of and little incentive (or reward) to keeping the windows uncovered back there. This unit could then have been peculiarly disfavored by the resale market.

Note the hint of why #2A may have decided to focus entirely inward.

© Sandy Mattingly 2012

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Jul. 11, 2012 - "fully renovated" 39 East 12 Street lofts sells at 14% premium to 2010, with pre-2010 renovation

another Jedi mind trick?
I pointed out the mind games that broker babble can play with buyers last week in my July 5, did a Jedi mind trick garner 40% premium over 2010 for a small loft at 107 West 25 Street?, about a loft that seemed to have been newly renovated but was, instead, “meticulously built out” before it last sold in 2010. In that case, I can’t explain the fact that that loft sold in 2012 at a 40% premium over 2010 except by the guess that the buyer thought all the nice (“meticulous”) work had been done in between.

Now comes the dressed up Manhattan loft #607 at 39 East 12 Street (University Mews), which sold on May 31 for $1.25mm boasting it has been “fully renovated”; given that it sold on August 5, 2010 for (only) $1.1mm, my mind automatically races to consider whether the renovation cost $150,000, or whether the renovation created more value than it cost. That’s just the way my mind works. But it turns out that is the wrong question.

I am going to leave out four very important words from the recent broker babble, to be put back in later:

gorgeous south facing true one bedroom loft which has been fully renovated save the fabulous original exposed brick wall with cast iron columns. The open, state-of-the-art chef's kitchen, accented with granite counter tops and island, is home to Wolf, Sub-Zero and Miele appliances. The bathroom is stunning and sleek; done in slate tile and finished with Caesarstone counters. ... tilt and turn custom windows by AirShield are seamless and provide the ultimate in sound proofing. The enormous walk-in closet and bedroom closets have been custom designed in dark wood with nooks and crannies for everything imaginable. Add 12' ceilings, recessed, controlled lighting complimented by stunning fixtures, ... solid wood doors throughout as well as ... remote controlled AC's and there is little else one could ask for.

I have to be more careful in reading babble, because I actually read it this way (not noting the missing words on first read), yet concluding that the renovation was new. (I already had the hint that the market value for this loft improved 14% in 14 months in which the overall Manhattan residential real estate market did not.)

The second time I read it I found “brand new”, as in “Brand new tilt and turn custom windows by AirShield...”. Not until starting to draft this post did I find the other two missing words (actually the same missing word, missing twice); you will see them (it) immediately:

Add 12' ceilings, recessed, controlled lighting complimented by stunning fixtures, new solid wood doors throughout as well as new remote controlled AC's and there is little else one could ask for.

(If not, look where the ellipses were, in blue, above.)

So you’ve got this “full” renovation, in which the windows are “brand new”, the solid wood doors are “new”, and the air conditioners either have “new” remote controls or the entire remote controlled air conditioner system is “new”. Syntactically, what does that imply about the rest of the “full” renovation (save, of course, the brick wall and cast iron column; were these untouched??)? Are the kitchen and custom-designed closets (to pick just two examples) neither “new” nor “brand new”? Just fully renovated??

babbling can defy the laws of grammar
No, there is no way to easily parse the broker babble that was so successful that it got $150,000 over the August 5, 2010 price. (Why didn’t they touch the brick wall??) What’s the difference between “new” and “brand new”?

Having already tried your patience, and having already given you the link, here is the equivalent broker babble from the 2010 vintage listing (hint: you’re going to hate me):

gorgeous south facing true one bedroom loft which has been fully renovated save the fabulous original exposed brick wall with cast iron columns. The open chef's kitchen,accented with granite counter tops and island, is home to Wolf, Sub-Zero and Miele appliances. The bathroom is stunning and sleek; done in slate tile and finished with Caesarstone counters. Brand new tilt and turn custom windows by AirShield are seamless and provide the ultimate in sound proofing. The enormous walk-in closet and bedroom closets have been custom designed in dark wood with nooks and crannies for everything imaginable. Add 12' ceilings, recessed, controlled lighting and new remote controlled ACs and there is little else one could ask for.

Here are the differences that I see, with eyes that may have glazed over by now: the kitchen was just “open chef’s” in 2010, but is also “state of the art” in 2012; the 2012 “compliments” [sic] include “new solid wood doors throughout”.  I will bet you a quarter that neither the kitchen nor the doors have changed between 2010 and 2012.

Cheap as I am, I will bet you $100 that the windows were even more “brand new” in 2010 than they are today. And whatever happened to the AC, it was more “new” then. (By the way, there is no plagiarism issue, as the listing agents in 2010 are the same as the listing agents in 2012.)

what did the buyers know, and when did they know it?
There is a sense in which the recent buyers knew everything that they needed to when they bought it; that they knew it came with these appliances and finishes. Does it matter if the windows are 2 years (or more!) older than they thought, other than for warranty purposes? The doors and AC remotes are unlikely to be much deteriorated by 2 years of additional usage (or more!).

I assume they knew that the loft had sold at $1.1mm in August 2010 and that the 2010 listing description is substantially identical to the current marketing. The only way they would not is if they did not have a buy-side agent and do not have access to things like StreetEasy. Are there such buyers these days? Perhaps.

building comps are useful (d’oh)
Of course you should consider whether something has happened in the building to reset values since 2010, however unlikely that may be in a market as mature as 12th Street in the central Village.

I hit the wonderfully renovated loft #307 soon after it sold in my May 24, 2011, dream renovation adds 50% to 39 East 12 Street loft, with a title that tells nearly all the story. That post looked back at 4 sales in the "x07" line in this building between #607 in August 2010 and #307 in May 2011:

Based on the listing descriptions and photos, #407 was not quite as well dressed as #303, while #607 is of higher quality, and #307 at the top of the heap. The “x07” loft clearing prices line up appropriately. Arguably, the architectural renovation of #307 was 14% more valuable than the architectural renovation of #607. That was a very valuable renovation.

I am still of the view that the #307 renovation is superior to that of #607. (Read that post for my surprisingly enthusiastic response to #307, with both a pod and a raised platform.) The clearing price and market velocity of #307 14 months ago will seem familiar to those who peaked at the new #607 history:

to market to January 13, in contract at the full ask by February 17. Given recent sales in the same line, asking $1.25mm showed confidence that The Market would appreciate the quality of the dream renovation, and The Market did not disappoint.

(If you haven’t peaked, #607 came out on March 5 at $1.25mm and was in contract at full ask by April 4.)

I don’t see anything about the #307 sale that would re-set values in the building; just that The Market last year recognized that as a truly superior renovation.

There is one more ‘high’ sale at University Mews between the two times #607 has sold, but I don’t see the #808 sale at $1.275mm in June 2011 as a re-set either. That one has what looks like a higher level of renovation than #607 and a (roughly) 300 sq ft private roof terrace.

I can’t reconcile the recent sales price for #607 with these same building comps, or with the same loft comp. But willing buyers quickly paid the full asking price. That is how markets re-set.

© Sandy Mattingly 2012
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Jul. 10, 2012 - 7 Essex Street loft goes for Peak, wins!

nice when it works
Before the recent sale of the “1,584 sq ft” Manhattan loft #7A at 7 Essex Street at $1.6mm, the last loft in the building to sell at or above that price was way back at The Peak, when loft #3A sold at $1.6mm on January 16, 2008. In between, lofts #6B and #3B sold at $1.45mm and $1.5mm last August, and #8A (with a private terrace!) sold at $1.385mm in November 2009, so you could look at the #7A listing history (omitting one false start) as both aggressive and successful.

Mar 3, 2011 new to market $1.7mm
Sept 29   $1.625mm
Jan 6, 2012 contract  
May 1 sold $1.6mm

You could also look at the listing history as patient, of course, with but one price change to get a deal after 10 months at a mere 6% off the first asking price, and 4 months to contract at a tiny discount.

(Curiously, there were two higher sales about 2 quarters before The Peak in the overall Manhattan residential real estate market, at $1.661mm on July 12, 2007 and $1.7mm on July 11, 2007. But let’s not get too far afield. Too soon. Ahem.)

2003 was not very long ago, but the trees are growing
Loft #7A was marketed with broker babble about the finishes that sounds like the finishes in other past sales, and probably the same finishes as when the building was first marketed, in 2003.

Gourmet Kitchen with Marble Counter Tops, Custom Cabinetry by Valcucine and a compliment [sic] of high end appliances including a built in Miele Espresso Maker. ... Ensuite Master Bath featuring Deep Soaking Tub and Double Vanity

One thing that distinguishes this loft from most others in the building is the view. From this height,

Oversized Windows offer[] Gorgeous Unobstructed Views over Seward Park to the East and Manhattan Bridge to the South.

Even one floor down, loft #6B boasted only of “tranquil tree-top views”. (Look at the main photo to see that the trees now top out halfway up those 6th floor windows; how long will it take them to reach the 7th floor?)

over-analyzing small data set
The full building history is difficult to reconcile here, as suggested in my opening paragraph. Trying to “explain” everything based on the past sales numbers is probably a fool’s errand. The top sales price should have been closer to The Peak than July 2007, but those two July 2007 sales remain the top two prices paid in the building, beating the single sale at The Peak by 4% and 6%. Worse, from the perspective of a rational market at least, is that the third highest price in the building was recorded way back in September 2006, when loft #6A sold for $1.659mm. (Note that the 6th floor then boasted not treetop views, but “STUNNING Park and City Views”.)

We have a small building (16 lofts) that was a new sort of development in a not (before then) a very loft-y Manhattan neighborhood, with a series of resales since the sponsor sold out in 2004. The highest resale prices were recorded between September 2006 and July 2007, with the only resale that coincided with The Peak in the overall Manhattan residential real estate market being 4% and 6% less than those record prices.

The two sales in 2009 were well enough into that year to have been post-thaw, but #PHC in August 2009 and #8A in November 2009 got hammered, with that penthouse loft selling for less than that seller had paid in 2005 and #8A getting 13% less than #7A just got, even with a “150 sq ft” private terrace. Is 13% off from post-Thaw to Current market broadly reflective of the overall market? Maybe. But this (somewhat selective, simplified) sequencing doesn’t line up with much that you know about the overall market:

$1,073/ft #7B* July 11, 2007
$1,048/ft #8B July 12, 2007
$1,047/ft #6A Sept 8, 2006
$1,010/ft #3A Jan 16, 2008
$1,010/ft #7A May 1, 2012
$1,000/ft #5A* June 26, 2008
$915/ft #6B Aug 15, 2011
$874/ft #8A** Nov 2, 2009
$839/ft #6B May 3, 2007

(*I tracked those sales to #7B and #5A via Property Shark, see Title Documents and Ownership Summary)
(** #8A price is unadjusted for the 150 sq ft terrace)

Just a few things to note about how this sequence of free market values is not rational, before we drown in these numbers. Note that 2007 had both the two highest sales and the lowest, within 70 days. Note that two two sales at and nearly-at The Peak come in only fourth and sixth highest. Note that the most recent sale (tied at fourth highest) is an improbable 10% higher than the next-most-recent sale only 8 months earlier.

As I suggested in the sub-head, you can go crazy over-analyzing small data sets such as these 9 resales in a 16-unit building. Sometimes the numbers are just wrong, in the sense that they make no (overall market) sense. Willing buyers met willing sellers at those prices, but it is foolish to think that you can fit them all into a rational framework.

Did I mention that comping is hard?

a last gasp
With all of this activity over the last few years, it is rather surprising to me that I have not blogged about this building since my March 27, 2007,  gimme a B at 7 Essex / 7B is new, 6B and 8B might be going. Perhaps I looked at some of these individual sales and threw up my hands.

Perhaps I should have done that this time, instead of putting it aside mid-draft yesterday after way too much time. Discretion as the better part of valor, or fools & angels?

© Sandy Mattingly 2012


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Jul. 8, 2012 - Sunday diversion: of Pythagorus and baseball odds


The plusses and minuses mean a lot

For baseball fans who don't get the stat geek world, this Sports Illustrated piece nicely captures the science behind the Probability of Playoffs column you see in some renditions of Major League baseball standings:


Tough luck for you Orioles fans, though you have enjoyed great luck so far.


(c) Sandy Mattingly 2012



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Jul. 6, 2012 - watching Tribeca grow up: another loft neighborhood pioneer profiled

lovely piece from a great resource
I’ve been meaning to write about The Broadsheet Daily, which I never look for in hard copy (published bi-weekly and available in residential building lobbies in Battery Park City and elsewhere in lower Manhattan) because I get their daily email alerts. This is the single best source that I have come across for comprehensive local government activity in the BPC, FiDi and Tribeca neighborhoods, including the critical mundane stuff like street closings and construction activities, Community Board 1 committee agendas and results, and even the schedule of inbound and outbound passenger liners. A veritable cornucopia!

I have added it to the roster of Favorite Links over there to the right, finally.

Yesterday’s daily news featured a long-time Tribeca resident and pediatrician who is closing her private practice after 24 years. She has literally seen her patients (and families) grow up in downtown neighborhoods that have had explosive population growth, and fascinating demographic changes. A terrific profile in its own right, it also captures Days Of Olde Tribeca that overlap with my own residential history in that odd triangle down there.

Dr. Bonita Franklin moved to Tribeca with her attorney husband and young children in 1983 and opened up her private pediatrics practice in 1988. I moved there in 1981, but our kids had established pediatric relationships by 1988 so we were never patients of hers. Our kids sit between hers in age (hers are now 32, 30, and 25) so we must have spent overlapping time in Washington Market playground and other gathering spots with her family, and it is very likely that our kids had friends who were friends with her kids. I may have had a nodding acquaintance with her:

"In the beginning, it was like a village -- all the families knew each other. … it would be no exaggeration to say that walking down the street I knew, either by name or by sight, most of the people who had children in the neighborhood.”

Her “first office was on Greenwich Street," Dr. Franklin recalls, "just below North Moore Street, where the pizza parlor is now." She opened a second office in Battery Park City, on Rector Place and her Tribeca office eventually moved to Reade Street. She will continue to live in the neighborhood but will confine her practice to pediatric endocrinology at NYU.

Talk about having her finger on the pulse of the community! (Two communities, actually, Battery Park City and Tribeca.) A pediatrician is rather uniquely positioned to see how people behave at their most intimate level, and to note changes in the families who come to her practice.

I am drawn to her memories about the 1980s. (Did people really still “mostly refer[] to it as ‘Washington Market,’ but the newer label of ‘Tribeca’ was just beginning to take hold” in/after 1983?? I thought that transition was complete by then....) This is a very gentle way of describing change (my italics added):

"The neighborhood was such an interesting place in those days," Dr. Franklin remembers. "Options for shopping and entertainment were very limited, but there were also strange, wonderful things: a shadow puppet studio, a stained glass studio, and an enormous aquarium that stretched from Chambers to Warren Street, which my children loved." Battery Park City was a similarly quixotic landscape. "In those days," Dr. Franklin recollects, "there was nothing but sand dunes where Stuyvesant High School is now. My children would run up and down those hills. The neighborhood used to have art exhibitions there, and they would open the area on July 4 for everybody to watch the fireworks."

For her, as no doubt for many (all?), the “watershed moment dividing those memories from the present … was September 11, 2001”. Since I had left Tribeca before then, my memories of changes are more incremental, less dramatic. Here is how she put it:

"The people who left were replaced by an influx of new, young families who were very different," she reflects. "The character of the neighborhood changed rapidly after that. Suddenly there were more high rises, and more families coming for amenities that existed already, like schools and the art scene," as well as those that were planned as part of the neighborhood's renewal.


But reflecting on how the community has changed, she observes that, "the people who were here before were more engaged in volunteerism. Many young parents were not fully employed in conventional jobs, which gave them more time for community work." She adds that, "the people who came after 9/11 are younger and wealthier, but also busier. There are more people in the financial industry, now, which was a rarity in the 1980s. But there are still plenty of artists and designers and architects."

(Note to self: were there really “suddenly” more high rises after 2001?)

Obviously, read the entire piece. Best of luck to Dr. Franklin and her family. When you see her on the sidewalk, send a nod her way from Manhattan Loft Guy.

no journey to 1980s Tribeca is complete without 3-footers beating 18-wheelers
The grandaddy Manhattan Loft Guy post about population growth in Tribeca as a media staple is my March 12, 2010, Quote For The Day, 2000 edition. That post collects (mostly) New York Times articles about the downtown population boom, which appear regularly every five years or so. Dr. Franklin’s reminisces (thanks, Broadsheet Daily!) give me yet another excuse to again quote my all-time favorite Olde Tribeca quote from that May 12, 2010 post, from a butter-and-egg guy who found that the neighborhood got too dangerous for him to stay (read the whole thing to understand that dynamic):

You've never seen so many people under three feet high...

Then there’s this other part of the social history of Tribeca: landlords harassing tenants to get them out of valuable real estate, as chronicled in my January 3, 2008, tales of Olde Tribeca / 1980s nastiness at 151 Hudson Street.

Dr. Franklin’s comments about the desolation around Tribeca reminds me some photos posted by the estimable Kevin Walsh in his website Forgotten New York (specifically, The Lamps of Pre-beca), linked in my September 25, 2010, the Lower West Side before "Tribeca".

I will stop before wandering further afield, down memory lane....

© Sandy Mattingly 2012
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Jul. 5, 2012 - did a Jedi mind trick garner 40% premium over 2010 for a small loft at 107 West 25 Street?

is your coffee fresh?

The recent sale of the “1,100 sq ft” Manhattan loft #2C at 107 West 25 Street, which recently sold (with a “400 sq ft” private terrace) at $1.4mm, involves a deceptively complex tale. The complexity will unfold below, but here’s the deceptive part: the loft was successfully marketed in “meticulously built out” and “triple mint” condition, after having sold on February 25, 2010 for $999,000; you’d think this 6-figure value was based on an unimproved condition. You’ll see that this is not so simple. But first, a digression to Noho and the applicability of a hoary real estate bromide....

what’s the third one?
As they say in real estate: the three most important things are location, location and … what’s the third one? (... waiting …) Give up? It’s location! This bromide comes to mind in looking at the recent sale of the “1,100 sq ft” loft #2C , as sharp-eyed readers of Manhattan Loft Guy (that’s you, right?) recall another Manhattan loft of “1,100 sq ft” that recently sold, and anticipate the significance of the LocationX3 bromide, as the value of that loft, in a very different neighborhood, is in my June 29 headline: $1,500/ft for 7 Bond Street loft with 4 windows, no bedrooms.

Short story: loft #2C saw a huge increase in value from 2010, but still cannot compare to the value of a Bond Street loft that comes with some real challenges. Bond Street: hot. West 25 Street: not so much.

is this a buy, fix, then zoom sequence?
This sequence (and these numbers) shows The Market loved the “meticulously built out” look of loft #2C:

Jan 18 new to market $1.45mm
Feb 7 contract  
May 1 sold $1.4mm

 Especially after this earlier sequence, and these numbers:

May 13, 2009 new to market $1.275mm
July 15   $1.198mm
Oct 14   $1,097,500
Nov 13 contract  
Feb 25, 2010 sold $999,000

The clearing values and the time on market imply that the loft in 2012 was very different than the loft in 2009-10, don’t they?

Funny thing is, there was nothing wrong with the loft in those days. (It was marketed as having the “highest quality finishes and detail”.) Funny thing is, it came out with very good timing, just as the overall Manhattan residential real estate market was starting to thaw. (Yet it did not find a deal within 80% of the original ask.)

You want really funny? Compare the kitchen photo in the current listing (pic #2, best viewed in large format, of course) to that in the 2009 listing (pic #4, no large format available, alas): definitely the same breakfast bar (note the white stripe at the bottom), probably the same counter and frig, possibly the same lighting fixtures, cabinetry is similar in shape, possibly the same fronts. I have a terrible suspicion that only significant difference in the kitchen Then and Now is the marketing: the Now babble is much more specific about the high-end finishes and materials, and has better photos.

Laughing yet? Now do the same with the master bath photos, pic #3 now and #2 then: allowing for different filters that alter the color scheme slightly, this is the same bathroom, with the same fixtures, cabinetry, mirrors, light fixtures, ‘pebbled’ floor, and glass shower door.

The floor plans are a hoot! The Now floor plan is exactly the same as the Then floor plan, both on Streeteasy and in our listing system.

I can’t be certain that the loft Then was in substantially the same condition as the loft Now, but that looks pretty bloody likely.

a Jedi mind trick?
I didn’t read the broker babble until after I knew that the loft sold in 2010 at $999,000 and in 2012 at $1.4mm, so I read the babble with those facts established, and so assumed that the loft had been renovated in between. After all, how else can you support a market reaction that the loft was worth 40% more 26 months later?

After stubbing my toe over the floor plans and photos, I was surprised to see that the 2012 babble does not explicitly claim that the loft had been “meticulously built out” recently, as if the “architectural designer [who ‘conceived and constructed’ did so] for his personal use”. I just assumed that, from the price. Did others?

Did the buyers understand that they paid 40% more than the loft had been worth in 2010?

At (an unadjusted) $1,272/ft, the May 2012 sales price is easily the record for the building, with the “1,300 sq ft” loft #4C having sold at $1,111/ft a few months before The Peak while also selling at (only) $1,019/ft in April 2011. (That sale was odd enough that I hit it in a June 22, 2011 post, why did 107 West 25 Street loft take so long to sell?.)

Let’s use that 2007 #4C sale at $1,111/ft as establishing the top price for interior space in the building, as a way to ballpark how much of the #2C sale was due to the “400 sq ft” terrace (i.e., use it to riff with The Miller). With that base line, the “1,100 sq ft” interior of #2C contributed $1,222,000 of the #2C total value of $1.4mm, with the balance of $178,000 allocated to the 400 sq ft terrace ($445/ft, or a tolerable 40% of the value of the interior $/ft).

Having jumped through these arithmetic hoops, there is a way to rationalize #2C at $1.4mm, based on a record sale from 2007 that is itself unrepresentative of market conditions only 14 months ago. Unfortunately, that is only rational if you ignore the same-loft-in-same-condition sale of #2C in February 2010.

I am just going to throw up my hands and stop here....

© Sandy Mattingly 2012


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Jul. 4, 2012 - it is a free country (still), but this should be mandatory reading

handwritten facsimile or plain text; your choice
A quick note and holiday link-a-pallooza before heading out to the ‘burbs for family grilling and sitting by the pool. I added the last bullet point below to link to last year’s post, form which this is taken:

In past years on this date I have printed the text, which is always a good read, start to finish, especially if you have not read it in a while. It is much easier to read here than in the facsimile printed today, as usual, on the back page of the front section of the New York Times (but less fun?). (Note to self: ask daughter if she ever read that ripped-out NYT page I mailed her every year she was away at summer camp, back in the day....)

Of course, the Declaration did not make us a nation. The Constitution did that in 1789. But what a glorious start!

Congratulations on this ‘birthday’ to all citizens of the US of A, and to people everywhere who are inspired by this country’s foundation stories.

If you use exploding things today, (1) light, then (2) throw; (3) do NOT hold. Have a happy!

© Sandy Mattingly 2012
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Sandy Mattingly is Manhattan Loft Guy; now with The Corcoran Group (http://corcoran.com/ ; but see the disclaimer at the bottom of the page), he can be reached most easily at Sandy@ManhattanLoftGuy.com or 917.902.2491, and followed on Twitter @ManhattnLoftGuy (note "mis-spelling"). After 7+ years, the blog has moved. Links here on RealTown will work for the foreseeable future, but new posts (and all the old content) has migrated to ManhattanLoftGuy.com.

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