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Manhattan Loft Guy


May 2012

May. 30, 2012 - did it really take 3 contracts to sell top floor loft with private roof at 303 Mercer Street for 99.3% of ask?

I hate these fuzzy histories
This much we know: the Manhattan loft triplex with roof terrace #A608 at 303 Mercer Street (in the oh-so-poetic Snug Cove [oops] Harbor 3-building coop) came to market on July 5, 2011 at $2.995mm and closed on April 30 at $2.975mm. Nearly 10 months to close at a 0.08% discount to ask is rather odd. Clearly, there was a failed contract, and the loft was correctly priced all along, but the listing history in StreetEasy is hardly helpful in understanding when this loft was being actively marketed. Worse, the listing history in the inter-firm system is the very model of a dysfunctional approach to market transparency among firms, yet one more exhibit for why we need a real multiple listing service, one that cares whether firms share accurate information.

The most obvious inaccuracy in the StreetEasy history is that the deed was transferred on April 30, but the biggest difficulty in understanding this as a marketing campaign is that the gap between the two contracts is unexplained. I will relay the Streeteasy history complete with some of the miscellaneous gaps that I normally skip over, and with the tardy “sold” date:

July 5, 2011 new to market $2.995mm
Sept 20 no longer available  
Oct 6 re-listed  
Oct 7 contract  
Jan 18, 2012 no longer available  
Mar 26 contract  
May 5 sold  

Since StreetEasy could not match unit #A608 with the April 30 deed record (denominated unit “#A6088”, a unit that does not exist in the building, and which is somebody’s typo at the closing or when the coop was formed), it had to rely on the listing brokerage to update the listing as sold. But REBNY has rules about accurate and timely data-sharing, which is why the mistakes in the inter-firm data system are less explicable:

July 6, 2011 new listing
Sept 20 contract signed  
Jan 10, 2012 back on market  
Jan 17 temporarily off the market  
Feb 15 contract signed  
April 20* temporarily off the market  
April 20* back on market  
May 1 contract signed  
May 5 sold (no price given)

(* Yes, the inter-firm system has 2 entries on April 20, in that sequence, neither of which is accurate.)

call me cranky
Here’s what probably happened, more or less:

July 5 new to market on firm website $2.995mm
Sept 20 contract signed  
before Jan 10 contract failed  
before Jan 17 (6 mo?) exclusive listing expired  
before Feb 15 old buyer re-emerged  
Feb 15 contract signed  
April 30 sold $2.975mm

Who cares about this stuff? I do, and anyone else that prefers accurate market information over more-or-less or even wrong data. The inter-firm system has 3 contract signed dates, one of which is after the closing, which can be blamed only on the listing firm. I don’t know how StreetEasy gets its data, but perhaps from the listing firm’s website (a source different from the listing firm sending updates to the inter-firm system).

My guesses about the sequence are based on the fact that many exclusive listing periods are for 6 months, and that sellers and firms don’t always extend the exclusive listing agreements after a contract is signed, even if the agreement expires between contract and closing. So far as I know, the inter-firm system does not require that a listing be proven to have been extended, and my scenario above about an old buyer re-emerging is consistent with a contract being signed by February 15 without a newly active marketing period just prior to the contract. (Since the February 15 contract was an update in the inter-firm system, i assume it came from the listing firm; where StreetEasy got a contract update as of March 26 I have no idea, but I doubt that a coop purchase agreement signed on March 26 can close by April 30.)

change in plans
In case you miss it the first time, the broker babble wants you to know that loft #A608 is a “brand new, gut renovated Loft that has yet to be lived in” and that “[n]o detail has been overlooked in this custom gut renovation”. Got it? Gut renovated. And never lived in, which is a shame considering how nice it looks.

The sellers bought the loft in 2000 (for $1,005,000, per our data-base) so it is likely that they lived in it for quite a while before embarking on the gut renovation. Also likely, they did not plan to sell before the renovation (who does that??). Something changed.

Just as something changed in my blogging plans. I drafted most of this … er … rant to be posted yesterday, but I just spent too much time on the subway, to-ing and fro-ing from between appointments and office and home to get it done. Then today I looked at how long my rant went on, without even talking about the loft. There’s much to say (beyond rant-worthy listing data crap), but let me let this one hit the ether before I get too distracted (what, me worry?) about the renovation, the comps and the outdoor space.

To the ether!

© Sandy Mattingly 2012


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May. 28, 2012 - for Memorial Day, remember & learn before eating & drinking

reprise I & reprise II
I don’t think I can put it any better than I said it two years ago:

Every American service member who has died in service is a tragedy for his or her family and for a group of friends or others who knew her or him; the death is also always a symbol because of the national connection. In Tillman's case, the symbolism is terribly layered and complex, and is relevant to many more people than is 'typical'. That doesn't make him any more or less special than anyone else, but more powerful.

If you didn’t see this last year, read about the origins of the day, from Civil War and slavery scholar David Blight intoday's New York Times” (today as of May 30, 2011, that is) from last year’s post.

© Sandy Mattingly 2012

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May. 26, 2012 - TYATOMLG: 1999 + 2010 loft resales at 27 N. Moore Street & 71 Warren Street

playing with time and (outdoor) space
Into The Wayback Machine, Sherman, as we go back to Manhattan Loft Guy two years ago today to catch up on (then) recent sales of two lofts that both previously sold way back in 1999. Part of the fun is in thinking about how different Tribeca was in 1999 (Warren Street was definitely on the edge); part of the fun is seeing that I was dealing with valuation issues then that I continue to deal with (outdoor space, buying the truly unique space next door).

Check it out in my May 26, 2010, 27 N. Moore St + 71 Warren St party like its 1999 (and sell), and (among other things) you will see that I have a long history of … wandering through a post.

© Sandy Mattingly 2012


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May. 25, 2012 - Petersfield penthouse loft sells with ... er ... very valuable private roof deck at 115 Fourth Avenue

living to riff

One of my favorite types of Manhattan Loft Guy posts involves looking at the impact of outdoor space on a given Manhattan loft sale; if I don’t always link to The Mother Post of that type (the may 6, 2010, riffing with The Miller on the value of Manhattan terraces, decks + balconies) (as I should), I hope by now it is clear to all that I am hugely in debt to The Miller for having systematically addressed the value of outdoor space in his blog. As regular readers know, and as you can easily see in the links, in order to value outdoor space for a given property you need a baseline for the interior space. In a condominium like The Petersfield, a 1987 conversion to residential lofts, that task is supposed to be easier than in a coop, because there are (supposed to be) better ‘official’ size measurements. The difficulties I have had with the most recent sale of a penthouse in The Petersfield, #8F at 115 Fourth Avenue, show that this process is not always as easy as it should be.

Let’s look at the fun stuff (the lovely loft) before getting depressed over the hard stuff.

wonderful light + custom storage does not qualify for mints
The listing photos substantiate this bit of broker babble: “[a]ll rooms face south with wonderful light ”; but they also establish that the wonderful light from the south does not come with a wonderful view. (that would be the 13-story residential loft coop at 111 Fourth Avenue out all of the south windows). The listing photos, especially pic #2, also establish that the babble undersells by not mentioning the great east light in the living room with apparently open views.

It is hard to tell how mint-y the finishes are, except for the fact that the babble is pretty restrained (“oversized kitchen with granite countertops[,] abundant custom closets with terrific storage [,]... massive walk-in [master] closet with floor to ceiling storage...[,] multi-zoned air-conditioning”) and it does not mention mints. Granite aside, the bragging is about custom storage. While not a foolproof method, the absence of enthusiastic and detailed bragging about finishes is usually a sign that the loft is nice (“move-in”) without being special, especially with no proper proper name dropping.

The floor plan (from Corcoran, as it is oddly absent from StreetEasy) shows a simple 2-bedroom, 2-bath layout, with a long angled walk past the second bath and kitchen before the loft opens up into the southeast living room and the “oversized sun flooded windows” that take advantage of the 12 foot ceilings. Neither bedroom is especially large, especially for a loft said to be “1,800 sq ft”, and there is an office at the top of the circular stairs, leading to the “400 sq ft” “decked and planted private rooftop terrace”.

If it is not quite fair to say that The Market loved this penthouse loft, it liked it a lot, at least as measured by days and dollars. Loft #8F came to market at $2.795mm on February 9, went into contract by March 21, and closed on May 2 at $2.65mm (since it is a Corcoran listing and our system has no mention of a price change I assume that StreetEasy is wrong about the initial price being lower for a few days).

Love or like, that is a successful campaign. Which leads me to wonder about how much value the terrace added. Which leads me to moan about rulers. (Readers who do not need the anal detail can skip the next 4 paragraphs without remorse.)

mis-matched feet, everywhere I look
Do you see the “1,800 sq ft” in the listing description? Can you find it in floor plan (even roughly by adding interior room dimension for the south rectangle and estimating the rest)?? But “1,800 sq ft” is what our listing system says. The numbers, as they say, do not add up, but (as they also say) “dimensions are approximate[; f]or exact dimensions, you must hire your own architect or engineer”.

Now look at the deed record associated with the closing on May 2 at $2.65mm: “1,200 sq ft”. I used to think that Streeteasy took such deed numbers from the New York City ACRIS system, which (I thought) took them from a Condominium Declaration, where available.

For those of you who can view ACRIS documents, page 27 of the 86 page Condo Declaration for The Petersfield is the page of the Exhibit B with “area in s/f” and, in the case of the penthouses on the 8th floor, a field for (spelling things out) 'area excluding stair bulkhead and private terrace'. For #8F, the Condo Dec has “2,268 sq ft” in total area and “1,445 sq ft” of area excluding stair bulkhead and private terrace. Look at the floor plan dimensions and see how closely the roof numbers fit the 823 sq ft that the Condo Dec says comprise area stair bulkhead and private terrace (for those without patience, I get round numbers of 220, 149 and 285 for the 3 deck areas, 66 for the office; if the entire bulkhead is 8’6” x 20’ [look at the floor plan: it fits], the numbers come out as close to exact as you could reasonably want).

Which does not answer the question why Corcoran thinks the loft has “1,800 sq ft” of interior, or why StreetEasy thinks it is only “1,200 sq ft”. But this exercise shows that the 8th floor and rooftop measurements on the floor plan line up really well with the Condo Dec at “1,445 sq ft” on the 8th floor and 823 on the top, including the entire stairway bulkhead.

apples to apples, feet to feet
The key to valuing the outdoor component of a loft is, as noted, to start with an interior value. The Miller would compare the interior space on the main floor of penthouse #8F with past sales at The Petersfield, then (if he were working forwards) estimate the value of the roof deck as a percentage of the interior, starting from a ballpark range of 25-50%, all as stated and analyzed in my May 6, 2010 post up top and The Miller link in there.

The last 3 public sales at 115 Fourth Avenue (that excludes #8D) were all in the first half of 2011; each has different sizes on StreetEasy in the listing and the deed record (smaller), and each has a different (smaller still) size in the Condo Declaration (on page 25 of 86), so to be consistent with #8F I am using the Condo Dec numbers and will leave for another day (perhaps never to come) when I figure out why the friggin’ numbers in this condo are so friggin’ different....):

  • #3G 882 sq ft $1.28mm $1,451/ft
  • #2D 740 sq ft $780k $1,054/ft
  • #3J 1,132 $1.69mm $1,493/ft

One of these things is not like the others: #2D is described as in “original but in very good condition”, while #3G drops words like “flawless”, “triple mint”, and even “anti-bacterial” and #3J claims a 2-year-old “major renovation” and also sues spiffy language. These descriptions in the babble are broadly consistent with the values achieved, and (after all) we are just ball-parking here....

You already know that #8F was not babbled as enthusiastically as #3G or #3J, but if we can reasonably ballpark all 3 lofts in the same value range (adjusting #8F down for condition but up for light and views seems a reasonable trade), we get the interior value for the “1,445 sq ft” of #8F as $2.128mm (using roughly the $1,473/ft midpoint of #3G and #3J).

loving to riff
if we were to do this frontwards, using The Miller’s starting point range (outdoor space as 25% to 50% of the value of interior space) would give a range for the 823 sq ft on the roof of $300,000 to $600,000. The Miller would look at factors such as proportion (this terrace is more than 50% of the interior, so not quite as valuable on a $/ft basis) and utility (this terrace is not ideal, as you have to go in circles up the stairs), while I suspect he would also consider added view and scarcity (certainly, my idealized internet vision of The Miller would do that). Let’s say that this roof is within The Miller’s range, but just a little bit closer to the bottom than the top, because of (a) overly-large proportion, (b) less than ideal utility, (c) no evidence of a better view, but (d) the likelihood that there are not many private roof spaces in the general neighborhood. I am going to call the net of those factors at 35%, as a ballpark number.

But because this entire exercise involves a closed sale, we know what the loft sold for in the open market: $2.65mm. We ballparked the interior #8F space at $1,473/ft, using #3J and #3G as comps on standardized Condo Dec sizing:


We ballparked the rooftop space at 35% of the interior value on a $/ft basis, yielding for the 823 sq ft up there:


We are about $100,000 short of the actual purchase price, but we have just been ballparking here. If the interior space valuation based on the #3G and #3J comps is a more solid place to start, then the observed roof value was $521,515, which means we should have ballparked the rooftop space as worth 43.85% of the interior. Still within The Miller’s starting range.

But we are just playing with numbers here, right?

who gives a ___?
I hate this ridiculous uncertainty about how big this condo loft is. It surely looks to me to be smaller than the listing’s 1,800 and bigger than the StreetEasy deed 1,200, and in a delightfully Goldilocks place that matches the Condo Dec at 1,445 sq ft.

The seller probably does not care exactly how big the loft is, inside or out, so long as it sells for an acceptable number (obviously, it did). The buyers may not even care, so long as they deem it a good use of their scarce dollars by comparison to what other lofts they could buy that also meet their needs. I am not sure the mortgage lender cares (so long as the comps are good at this sale price), but I have seen appraisers who care, as they feel compelled to use hard data to find real comps. Bless their hearts! I also care because (d’oh) I try to make sense of The Market, and (call me naive) it is impossible to make sense of the market without such data.

The recent buyers have no mortgage in their list of title documents on Property Shark (scroll down about one-third), but that may just be a filing delay. If they got a mortgage, their lender had it appraised. If it was appraised, the appraiser (should have!) measured it. regardless of precise measure, the appraiser needed to find comps with indoor and outdoor space, or do a Miller riff with same-building data. I would love to see an appraisal on #8F, to see (a) how big the lender thinks it is, (b) what comps the appraiser used, (c) what adjustments were made to the comps, and (d) how much of the value the appraiser thinks was due to the outdoor space.

Personally, I am going with $521,515, or about 20%.

This has gotten way too much into math (and guesswork ballparking) for a Friday, let alone a holiday weekend Friday afternoon to (unofficially) begin Summer. Is that sun I see out the window??

© Sandy Mattingly 2012


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May. 24, 2012 - 40 Mercer Street news: nothing says successful new development like a 7-figure gain since 2007

nothing to sneeze at here
It is impressive that the “1,745 sq ft” Manhattan loft #21 on the 5th floor at 40 Mercer Street just sold at a gain of $800,000 over the 2007 sponsor sale, of course. How much more impressed are you to learn that the “1,649 sq ft” loft #3A just sold at a $1mm gain over the sponsor sale, also in early 2007? Maybe I have not paid enough attention to new development loft condos circa 2007, but I can’t immediately think of another new set of Manhattan lofts that have done as well in the market as this Jean Nouvel project.

Here is the data, which is easier to track on the new Streeteasy once you know that loft #3A is condo unit #1:

#3A   Mar 16, 2007 sponsor sale $3,003,837
  #21 April 4 sponsor sale $2,698,362
  #21 Aug 25, 2010 new to market $4.25mm
  #21 Jun 6, 2011   $4.55mm
  #21 Oct 26   $3.995mm
#3A   Dec 20 new to market $4.5mm
  #21 Jan 3, 2012 contract  
#3A   Feb 23   $4.35mm
#3A   Mar 15 contract  
  #21 April 18 sold $3.5mm
#3A   April 24 sold $4.05mm

a corner market premium
Though (slightly) smaller, loft #3A was valued more highly than loft #21 by both the sponsor and the resale market, though loft #21 is two floors higher and splits the two bedrooms (on a $/ft basis, 18% higher in the sponsor sale, 22% higher in the 2012 resale market). They obviously directly competed against each other in both marketing periods; anyone looking at one would have also looked at the other.

The principal relevant difference between the floor plans for #3A and #21 is likely to be that, while both have a long wall of north-facing windows, #3A also has a (short) wall of west windows; not having been in either space I cannot find any other difference in favor of the smaller loft that is likely to impact values to this degree.

economics & agents
The StreetEasy page for loft #3A (not linked to unit #1, by the way) shows that the unit was rented as of December 2009 from an asking rent of $20,000/mo, and that the (now newly re-sold) loft is again available for rent at $20,000/mo. The economics of that situation are obviously heavily tilted in favor of the original owner, who paid a million bucks less than the very recent buyer.

This sequence also suggests that the original owner lived in the unit for the first two years, as it did not hit at least the public rental market until October 2008 and was not rented until 14 months later.

Close fans of the Manhattan residential real estate market will recognize the name of the prime listing agent on loft #3A, and will see that the sales listing changed from PruDE to Town when he changed firms. Fans who are as nosy as I am will check the deed record, and have already noted that that lead agent was also the seller of loft #3A. I assume the buyers knew that the seller’s agent was the seller, though the broker babble does not say so.

That agent is famously successful as an agent, but look how well he did here as a seller. The Shark tells me that he took a mortgage for $2.36mm when he bought in 2007, so he put down (and paid in transfer taxes) about $650,000. Assuming he did not take a bath by moving elsewhere before he rented it, $20,000/mo should more than have covered his nut (mortgage payments plus common charges plus abated taxes). For that $650,000 down payment and the obligation to pay the mortgage and other monthlies, he pocketed walked away from the closing with $1.7mm (on which capital gains taxes are due, but still ...).

Nicely played, sir; nicely played. Maybe he should quit his day job.

I had put this sale aside, to post about it only after I tracked down the rules about agents-as-principals, but I got lucky today. The email to REBNY members with the “Legal Line Question of the Week” arrived today with the answer. Outside counsel to REBNY’s residential real estate division write today:

Title 19 Sections 175.4, 175.5 and 175.6 of the NYCRR [the State’s rules and regulations, codified] do require a real estate broker to make disclosures to the other parties involved in a real estate transaction when the real estate broker has an ownership interest in the property involved in the transaction.

Those regulations do not specify when that disclosure is to be made, but counsel suggests it be made in writing when the NYS agency disclosure form is provided, and if that form is not required, at “first substantive contact”. Personally, I recall having often seen “broker/owner” at the end of broker babble on a sales listing, so I know that at least some agents do it that way. I assume this agent / seller did the right thing, but I think the better course is to put it in the listing description instead of (or in addition to?) relying on a separate written document to be provided.

© Sandy Mattingly 2012
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May. 23, 2012 - playing with 475 Broadway loft comp that is up +58% over 2004

right facts and wrong facts; helpful facts and distractions
I’ve been having a running conversation with a very savvy client about values in Soho, including market trajectory currently and in recorded history. He is wondering about a classic Soho loft that was gut renovated 7 years ago that is now asking nearly 70% more than it sold for then (needing that gut). He is trying to suss out how much of the current market value is based on the renovation, and how much is simple market appreciation over 7 years. The most interesting comp in our discussion is a similarly-sized loft that sold recently at a 58% premium to when it last sold. The conversation is interesting because (like all good buyer conversations) it is fact-based, using actual Manhattan loft sales data; it is really interesting because I think having so much information in this instance confuses rather than reveals.

It is hardly controversial to say that the most recent highly relevant comp for any loft is a much more important data point than anything that happened 7 or 8 years ago. My guy knows this, but in a world in much there is more information than just current comps, it can be hard to stay focused. And harder still for a guy who prides himself on fact-based analysis (yours truly, that is) to argue, essentially, that it is wiser to ignore the past history of the very loft you are interested in because that history (in this particular case) is unhelpful, or even wrong. (Let’s put aside the metaphysics involved in calling a market fact such as a past open market sale wrong. Please.)

That relevant comp is the “2,500 sq ft” Manhattan loft #6E at 475 Broadway, which has sold in this sequence:

  • May 7, 2012 $3.2mm
  • December 13, 2004 $2.025mm
  • September 9, 2002 $1,873,700

That’s up 58% in the 8 years since 2004 (as noted) and up 71% in 10 years.

The “2,500 sq ft” floor plan is on a Long-and-Narrow footprint with a stub in the back where the master suite sticks out. The place is done, with classic loft elements and improvements that include:

  • huge windows
  • 13’ ceilings
  • a gas fireplace
  • wooden inlays
  • wainscoting
  • crown moldings
  • 300 bottle temperature controlled wine room
  • Subzero and Viking appliances
  • maple cabinets and granite countertops.
  • marble bathrooms (with rain shower and Jacuzzi)
  • dual zone AC

(Personally, I don’t view wainscotting and crown moldings as “improvements” in a classic Soho loft [it looks rather UES to me], but to each her own.)

Manhattan Loft Guy snobbery aside, The Market loved this loft, as it came out on January 10 at $3.25mm and found the contract by January 25 that closed on May 7 at $3.2mm. Can’t argue with that.

You would never know it from StreetEasy, but this was the exact same beautiful loft (with the same floor plan) then, as now, though the living room light fixtures have been changed and there is a different tall sculpture next to the fireplace. Per our listing system, this is the broker babble that lead to the sale at $2.025mm:

Dramatic 2500 sq ft high full-floor condo loft offering an expansive living and entertaining space with a wall of oversized windows and 13' ceilings throughout. The loft includes a new top of the line kitchen, dining room, 3 full bedrooms, two of which have bathrooms en suite, and 3 full new marble bathrooms. There are beautiful details and crown moldings, a fireplace, central air-conditioning, and excellent light through oversized windows in all rooms.

Thus, the entire gain of $1.175mm from December 2004 to in May 2012 is market appreciation. (Similarly, the spare listing data in our system from the September 2002 sales suggests that loft #6E was even then a wainscotted wonder, which is consistent with an appreciation way back then of [only] 8% in the 27 months between those two long-ago sale; a big improvement in condition then would have been more rewarded.)

history is a distracting subject
In contrast, the subject loft I have been discussing with my client has a similar trajectory but different history. That loft is a good comp in location, size, light and (now) condition as #6E at the Hohner Building II (aka Soho Tower) and is offered at a similar price per foot as loft #6E. But that one last sold about a year later than the prior sale of #6E needing a gut renovation. Despite needing a gut renovation, it sold then at 93% of loft #6E on a $/ft basis. Some of that 2005 value was about a year’s worth of market appreciation, but 2005 was not nearly as frothy for the overall Manhattan residential real estate market as 2007.

My guy is worried about that loft, that (given the purchase price + renovation cost) it has not appreciated as much as it ‘should’, so he wonders about the values. It has not yet sold at under $1,300/ft, after having been bought in 2005 under $800/ft and built out for (let’s assume) at least $200/ft. That leaves barely another $300/ft as market appreciation from 2005 to 2012 (no more than 30%), which strikes my guy as paltry. And troublesome, because difficult to understand.

Respectfully, sir, you are being distracted by the details, uncomfortably anchored in that 2005 price as a total gut job. My working hypothesis, in considering the roughly parallel history of loft #6E with a different starting condition, is that the folks who bought the subject loft in 2005 and spent considerable money fixing it up overpaid for it in that market, and that the only thing that makes sense to look at now is how that loft compares to loft #6E and its other peer sales.

In this case, the subject loft hopes to achieve in the current market the value that loft #6E got, which seems reasonable based on comparing the two lofts. Forget the fact that going back 7 and 8 years, the two lofts sold in very different conditions at values that are uncomfortably similar, under any rational market analysis. Forget the fact that the current sellers -- even if they get their asking price -- will not reap the gains that the #6E sellers just did, because they had to invest in the renovation that #6E never needed.

As a buyer, focus on current comps. Don’t get distracted by the details of history when there is better hard data to consider. Leave that to bloggers.

And leave it to the 2005-buyers-who-renovated-then-sold-in-2012 (they hope) to rue the appreciation from then to now, however paltry. Bummer, for them. Irrelevant (when there is more relevant information), for you.

© Sandy Mattingly 2012

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May. 21, 2012 - 25 West 15 Street loft with unusual layout + funky colors closes at rough parity with downstairs loft

fresh nearby comps should be easier to apply
I bet that the walls in the “1,800 sq ft” Manhattan loft coop on the 7th floor at 25 West 15 Street have been where they are for 20+ years. The floor plan to this Long-and-Narrow loft has an “office / bedroom” with no closet in that (very) green room that opens to the living room (pic #3 and #5), a “master” bedroom that is an unimpressive 9’10” x 13’5” (in pic #4), and both a “living room” at the north end and a “great room” at the south end. Looks to me like a loft that was set up this way when one person lived there, and now is not quite big enough with 3 or more people. And notice the modifier in the broker babble that says volumes about the finishes, if you read between the lines: the kitchen is “open”; not chef’s or gourmet or top of the line, or any of those things, just “open”.

While the floor plan suggests “dated”, the colors are fresh. That (very) green “office / bedroom” looks especially bright in pic #3 alongside the red-ish and purple-ish hallway. And they opted to emphasize the largest plumbing lines in the great room with that shiny red. Interesting choice that perhaps gives some texture to a relatively low-ceiling (9.5 feet).

But paint is easy to change, and neither the colors nor the floor plan prevented this top floor loft from selling just a tad above the loft immediately below. This one took some chopping, and some fine dollar-shaving or difference-splitting in the negotiations, but it got done at $949/ft:

Sept 14, 2011 new to market $1.85mm
Oct 14   $1.795mm
Dec 6   $1.795mm
Mar 1, 2012 contract  
April 16 sold $1,707,500

The 6th floor was the subject of my November 18, 2011, high floor low ceiling loft at 25 West 15 Street closes on 2nd contract, 2nd price, when it sold at $928/ft 6 months earlier, with no head-to-head competition (omitting a failed contract and a hiatus):

Mar 15, 2011 new to market $1.795mm
April 29   $1.85mm
Aug 3 contract  
Oct 28 sold $1.67mm

For all appearances, that was a better loft than the 7th floor, with a more typical floor plan with 2 bedrooms and a study that looks like a third bedroom, all more generously sized than on the top floor, and more brag-worthy finishes, both old (“distinctive tin ceilings ... and egg and dart moldings”) and new (“kitchen has been meticulously renovated with top of the line appliances and finishes [ t]wo new bathrooms with Waterworks fixtures”). The only advantage that I see for the 7th floor over the 6th is light from the two large skylights.

As noted in that November 18 post, the 6th floor sales compared well to the last sale in the building before that: the 3rd floor had sold in July 2010 for $1.575mm (only $875/ft). That one had a still different variation on the Long-and-Narrow footprint. Hard to say that the Waterworks bathrooms and greater light justified a $95,000 premium for the 6th floor over the 3rd, but that is what The Market established.

Just as the Market established that the 7th floor was worth 2.2% more than the 6th floor, (again) despite the floor plan weirdness, colors and lack of brag-worthy finishes. Not what I would have predicted, but the range is narrow enough to be readily understood as two separate sets of buyers and sellers butting heads and shaving dollars.

beware of low maintenance
I made a point last November about a positive selling point in this building (from now 3 sets of babble: no underlying mortgage on the coop) that may be counter-intuitive, so it bears repeating:

That [low maintenance] might not be such a good thing, however.

My buyers thought the entrance and lobby were not particularly well finished or maintained. This is fairly common with more … errr … mature coop lofts, but coupled with a low maintenance I would worry about whether the 7 shareholders are being only penny-wise as far as the coop budget is concerned. Our data-base shows that 3 shareholders have been in the building at least 15 years and paid, on average, less than $350,000.

I am not saying that I know that shareholders in this small coop are worse than frugal; I am saying that these circumstances suggest a heightened level of diligence to be done, and a willingness on the part of a buyer with an accepted offer to walk away rather than sign a contract. Sometimes low maintenance is the tip of a large iceberg.

As with many things, much diligence is due in such situations. I am sure everybody did it (after all, they closed). But while low maintenance makes a loft more affordable, it may mask the possibility of large expenses down the road.

(most) lofts are not shaped in a cookie cutter
All 3 of these lofts have the same “1,800 sq ft” Long-and-narrow footprint. Look (again) at the differences in floor plans, 3rd floor vs. 6th floor vs. 7th floor. Such variation within the same small (7-unit) coop. Fun stuff!

© Sandy Mattingly 2012

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May. 20, 2012 - Sunday diversion / good baseball numbers

use your power for good, not for evil (or boredom)
Baseball stat geeks are sometimes boring, sometimes stupid as well as trivial (as in “Johnny Littlebat is hitting .350 in Tuesday day games, but at .180 he can’t buy a hit in Friday night games”), and sometimes fascinating. Asking questions and parsing data that bears on a question, perhaps finding an answer, perhaps merely identifying outliers. In this, they are not unlike people who play with (or abuse) sales data from the Manhattan residential real estate market, but this is a no-real-estate-content post, so I will leave that to another day.

I love this May 17 piece on SBNation by Jeff Sullivan about a surly phenom who is almost as dangerous to himself with a bat in his hands as to opposing pitchers. For fans of Readers Digest, the question is why are pitchers (seemingly) pitching to Bryce Harper differently than they have to other highly touted young hitters? and the provisional answer is that they have more respect (fear) of him than of other young hitters. The basic data are rates of fastballs and off-speed pitches, and I highly recommend the piece of that sort of question and that sort of data set may be of interest.

And the highly literate readers who comment on SBNation (not the right word, but you know what I mean) plumb the topic and force Sullivan to add some detail in response. Note, especially, the small sample dialogue and the maybe-they-faced-more-breaking-ball-pitchers hypothesis, bit of which seem to be well handled by Sullivan.

And in other news … go (young) Pacers! go (old) Spurs!

© Sandy Mattingly 2012

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May. 18, 2012 - Chelsea House loft re-seller takes 51 weeks to get 7.5% discount, closing pennies below 2007 purchase

the birthday was a happy one

By the time the sellers of the “1,250 sq ft” Manhattan loft #9F at 130 West 19 Street (Chelsea House) blew out one candle, the loft had been in contract for 5 days, so the occasion was a happy one. Happier still, when the loft closed a month later, taking 3 small price drops to generate a deal that was 3.3% off the last ask, only 7.5% off the first ask (after 13 months), and a measly $1,462 off the net sponsor sale price 58 months earlier.

Of course, no sellers celebrate anniversaries in a marketing campaign, but a contract after 360 days is a thing of joy. Or relief, if the sellers were just worn down by these dates and numbers:

June 22, 2007 sponsor sale $1,476,462
Mar 18, 2011 new to market $1.595mm
May 12   $1.56mm
Oct 11   $1.55mm
Jan 23, 2012   $1.525mm
Mar 13 contract  
April 19 sold $1.475mm

I bet these people rip band-aids off s l o w l y. It took 2 months for the first price drop, the big one at $35,000; then 5 months before a price drop that could easily be confused for a typo (0.064%), then another 3 months before another ‘big’ one. That is 9 months to go $70,000 (4.4%) in 3 moves. After all that fine slicing, they let The Market handle it from there, taking that last $50,000 off to do the deal, just short of the listing’s birthday.

fascinating layout, but not in a good way
There are some very conventional layouts at Chelsea House, a newly-built-in-2006 condominium developments that is as close to an-apartment-not-a-loft development as any building that I track in the Master List of Manhattan Lofts Sold Since November 2008. (But I have been tracking it, and will continue to do so.) Loft #9F does not have a conventional layout.

The #9F floor plan claims “1,250 sq ft”, a size which is usually not difficult to squeeze 2 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms into. I don’t know how the architects went about creating individual unit floor plans here, obviously, but this one looks like a left-over, after the adjoining units were (rationally) designed: we have 1,250 sq ft, so there must be a way to create 2 bedrooms here. Note that the second bedroom is rather narrow, at 7’11”. (This is one inch narrower than what I had understood as the legal requirements for a “room” per the Building Code, but in doing a quick search for a citation I find that I can’t be sure; this part of the New York city Code may or may not say that; it is hard to parse.) Now look at the wasted space from the door the master bedroom on the way to the only part of the room that a bed could fit in; too narrow to add closets, what do people do with that??

This master jumble of doors and halls leading to the 132 sq ft bed part of the master bedroom is so weird that I wondered if that was the original design, or a post-2006 “improvement” of some sort. But there are 3 other “F” line floor plans in the StreetEasy collection, all of which have the second bedroom as in the #9F floor plan, though not all have solid walls.

In a rational market, you’d think that the wasted space in #9F would be discounted. (We will come back to that thought.)

still a narrow range
In my December 9, 2011, Chelsea House loft at 130 West 19 Street bounces back from nuclear winter sale, I reviewed the two times that loft #7A sold since the sponsor sales (that story is in the headline), and linked to past Manhattan Loft Guy posts about sales 130 West 19 Street. One of those posts was my February 12, 2011, different story for this Chelsea House loft: started with Lehman, ended up off 22%, but up 6.5% lifetime, where I noted that the past 4 Chelsea House sales at that time were:

within a satisfyingly narrow range on a price-per-foot basis (satisfying, for those who prefer their markets rational). The last column below reflects the gain or (loss) since the original sale; those figures are all over the map, suggesting that The (current) Market valuation differences are different from the sponsor’s sense of the relative values among these lofts in 2005 and 2006.


#7B Jan 25, 2011 $1,119/ft (15%)
#4F Dec 21, 2010 $1,080/ft 6.5%
#8D June 18 $1,128/ft (5.8%)
#7A Jan 5 $1,105/ft 2.6%

Without that last column, you would never know from this table that #7B got squeezed by the market, or that #4F got a strong price. Isn’t this fun???

Since that recap, there have been only two public sales without outdoor space. The #9F sale a month ago comes to $1,180/ft; the only other public sale without outdoor space was the #7A sale 7 months ago that was the subject of that February 12, 2011 post, at $1,182/ft. Updating the table above extends the range of $/ft values, but only a little (again, the bonus 4th column is gain since the net-price sponsor sales):

#9F April 19, 2012 $1,180/ft (0.1%)
#7A Nov 9, 2011 $1,182/ft 9.9%
#7B Jan 25, 2011 $1,119/ft (15%)
#4F Dec 21, 2010 $1,080/ft 6.5%
#8D June 18, 2010 $1,128/ft (5.8%)
#7A Jan 5, 2010 $1,105/ft 2.6%

Two things, and then I will stop: you cannot say from this distribution of values that the “wasted space” in #4F and #9F had any market impact; these sales are still within a narrow range, though the last two suggest that the building range may be creeping larger.

Are the efficient market fans happy??

© Sandy Mattingly 2012

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May. 17, 2012 - Collect Pond loft at 366 Broadway sells at $918/ft after missing The Peak

going emo on a business transaction

There’s a mild puzzle in the recent sale of the “1,872 sq ft” Manhattan loft #3B at 366 Broadway (Collect Pond House) at $1.72mm, as it sounds like a beautiful loft that went for less than you’d think (well, than I’d think). But there is also a more emotional response, one of empathy, for a seller who tried to sell into The Peak but just could not get the deal done then.

Let’s start from a perspective of fellowship:

July 20, 2007 new to market $2.2mm
Oct 8   $1.995mm
Nov 10 hiatus  
Jan 12, 2008 change firms $1.945mm
April 11   $1.895mm
April 18   $1.85mm
July 13 off the market  
May 6, 2011 new to market $1.895mm
June 15   $1.795mm
July 13   $1.775mm
Oct 14 contract  
April 23, 2012 sold $1.72mm

In fellowship, isn’t it clear that they picked the perfect time to sell, by coming to market 3 calendar quarters before peak pricing was recorded in the overall Manhattan residential real estate market? Timing is not, as they say, everything. Timing is one critical aspect, especially in a dynamic market, but this history illustrates that even with perfect timing a loft will not sell from the wrong price.

What if?” is a hard game to play empathetically. But if you believe that the current market values are within about 10% of Peak values, the $1.72mm observed clearing price implies that Peak value for this loft was around $1.9mm. You’d think that a willing seller asking $1.995mm at The Peak could sell around $1.9mm, but that did not happen here. Perhaps the seller did not give the $1.995mm enough time (less than 5 weeks), but the clear mistake (clear, in not very empathetic retrospect) was in taking 2 months off the market. Remember: peak prices were recorded in the 1st quarter of 2008, many from contracts signed in the last quarter of 2007, overlapping with the 2 month hiatus.

In retrospect, that was one very expensive hiatus.

The overall market in the second quarter of 2008 was characterized by strong prices but was not quite as deep a market. You’d think this seller could have gotten a deal then off a $1.85mm ask, given that it eventually cleared at a very-post-Peak $1.72mm; if so, like me, you’d have been wrong.

Abandoning any empathy whatever, look again at that 2008 listing history. Before September 15, 2008 (when Lehman went down) there was an active Manhattan residential real estate market. These sellers did not know Lehman was coming, but they could have seen market momentum was declining. In retrospect (curses!), they took off the last 60 days in which they had a good chance to sell.

That’s twice that these sellers pulled the plug on marketing during active markets (November 10, 2007 to January 12, 2008, and after July 13, 2008). I have highlighted the disappointed seller’s conundrum before, first in my November 15, 2010, flight or fight? the disappointed seller’s conundrum, 30 East 21 Street and 205 West 19 Street lofts edition, and then in posts riffing on that same theme (here’s one with a happier ending: my December 21, 2010, ground floor loft at 7 Worth St proves how bad 2009 was). At the time, there are no guarantees that it is better to continue to fight the market, by dropping the price again (and again), or better to flee and wait for better conditions. So be gentle, for there but for the grace of The Market Gods, go you, and I....

sunny + quiet + mint = less than you’d think
All that empathy and projection aside, $1.72mm had to be a disappointing sale on the merits. For reasons unknown, the listing description in the inter-firm system starts with “Sunny and Quiet Loft in Mint Condition”, an introduction missing from the public broker babble. Aside from the sound claim, the pictures bear out these claims. The floor plan is more Short-and-Wide, with a wide wall of south windows, and is a very efficient 2-bedroom+, with the “+” including a home office, a walk-in closet behind the kitchen, and a large laundry/storage area behind that.

Yes, it is a coop instead of a condo, and on a busy stretch of Broadway instead of on a charming (and quiet) prime Tribeca block, but it sold at $918/ft. Compare this sale to the nearby (and, if anything, even more busy) coop 395 Broadway, which has had 4 sales in the last 16 months, each at higher dollar-per-foot prices than #3B at 366 Broadway. One of those was clearly a total gut job, another was sold emphasizing “possibilities”; I hit some of these sales when they were fresh:

Loft #3B also under-performed relative to a very nearby and fairly recent comp. If the floor plan of #3B looks familiar to you, it is the “1,872 sq ft” loft #7B upstairs that you are thinking of. I hit that loft when it closed on September 16 at $1.795mm in my October 3, 2011, 366 Broadway loft sells up 10% over 2004 but flat to 2007. (There is a discussion of the historical "Collect Pond" in that post, with some cool history links.)

That loft had the advantage over #3B of better light and some views from the higher floor, and the disadvantages of a challenging floor plan and a dated interior. In other words, that one needed significant upgrades to bring it to the mints of which #3B boasts. Yet it sold at a $75,000 premium to #3B.

And trust me: you will find on the Master List of Manhattan Lofts Sold Since November 2008 lots of Tribeca lofts that sold in less well-finished condition at higher prices than #3B.

Did I mention (yet, today?) that comping is hard?

© Sandy Mattingly 2012

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May. 16, 2012 - the Warburg guy wants to take the Dual out of Agency in Manhattan residential real estate

I applaud Fred (if I may be so familiar)
Long-time Manhattan Loft Guy readers know that the subject of New York State agency law and required disclosures is near and dear to my heart (links below). Not many agents share that passion, but @MalcolmBlogger is one. He launched into my corner of the twitterverse a link to the blog of the head of Warburg Realty, who also seems unusually interested in discussing agency. More interesting still, in his May 14, What We Talk About When We Talk About Disclosure, Frederick Peters seems very interested in having his agents not use a form of agency “permitted” under New York State law that some of his agents may think helps put money in their pockets.

Read the post for the details of Fred’s admitted evolution, but here is the (ahem) money quote:

straight dual agency, while a convenient idea in theory, is laden with possible conflict in practice. So I make the same recommendation to consumers and agents alike: don’t do it!

(The “straight” dual agency that he does not like is clearly one agent “representing” both seller and buyer in a transaction, rather than the Dual Agency With Designated Sales Agents situation, in which buyer and seller are represented by different agents from the same brokerage firm.)

Smart guy, obviously been around the Manhattan residential real estate block more than a few times, who admits to having doubts about mandatory agency forms when they were first required in Manhattan. I have seen his blog before (mostly, when linked to by someone in my corner of the blogosphere) and admit to liking it. Either he is a good writer who writes (and thinks) in His Own Voice, or he hires a good writer to translate his thoughts into a voice that is both informal enough to be appealing and credible enough to be from the head of a Manhattan residential real estate brokerage. As anyone who has slogged through most CEO-level “personal” blogs can attest, that is not an easy needle to thread.

As I said up top, I love that Fred has evolved in this way, and now recommends to agents and consumers that no one use that form of “straight” dual agency. But I wish he had filled out some of his analysis, starting with the wonderful example he uses for the dangers of straight dual agency. It is his blog, of course, and his voice. Not everyone is as linear (“anal“ comes to mind) as Manhattan Loft Guy, but I want to focus on a (missing) step in his analysis.

an unintended pitfall
Most analysis of straight dual agency that I have seen in the REBNY world has to do with a single agent representing buyer and seller in the same deal and the deal is consummated. Not to minimize those possible problems for all 3 parts of that threesome, but Fred’s example highlights a different one, a difficulty I had not previously considered. What happens after a seller rejects the buyer, with both having been represetned by the same agent?

I am going to add some [numbers] to Fred’s example to make it easier to break apart in a minute:

[1] a buyer came to her directly with interest in one of her exclusives. [2] Both the buyer and the seller signed the Disclosure Form acknowledging her as a dual agent. They made a deal. The next day, [3] an agent from another firm brought my agent a higher offer, which the seller chose to accept. So how could my agent be fair to both sides? Representing the buyer, [4] she should have thrown all her weight into persuading the seller to stick with the offer he had. But representing the seller, [5] she had to acknowledge that he was getting considerably more money and might be swayed by that. In the end, [6] the seller took the additional money from the new buyer and [7] the original buyer was angry at my agent, claiming that she had not really represented him. And the buyer was right! She simply could not be an advocate for both sides.

Fred may have chosen to include the sequence he did (and not my preferred sequence) because that is all he needed to make his point. (He may understand the value of brevity better than I do ;-) He points out a problem that probably comes up a lot, but I don’t think his explanation is detailed enough.

If I were the head of a firm I would be sure to point out that my agent followed the law by inserting [1.5] before [2]:

[1.5] My agent explained carefully to both the buyer and seller that the agent is acting for the other party as well, including that the buyer and seller are giving up their right to undivided loyalty.

That is, nearly verbatim, what the NYS Agency Disclosure Form published by the Secretary of State says about Dual Agency. Sadly, Fred’s story implies that this careful explanation never occurred, because if it had the buyer at point [4] would never have expected the agent to persuade the seller to accept her bid, only to present it.  And the buyer at point [7] would have been disappointed rather than angry.

I am sure Fred understands agency law in this context better than I do, but his language in the concluding sentence above might confuse some consumers. He is right that his agent “simply could not be an advocate for both sides”, but the unstated reason is that the buyer was angry is that the buyer did not understand that the agent could not advocate at all as dual agent. (Possibly, because this was not carefully [enough] explained to the buyer up front.)

Fred does not get into the details of what this means, including that the agent is just a messenger between “her” buyer and “her” seller, relaying numbers back and forth. Without violating a duty to one, she cannot serve the other by answering a question such as “do you think there is more room in the last bid?”, or “why doesn’t the buyer/seller understand that the comps say …?”, or “my final number is $xxx, how do we manage the process to get there?”. The agent can’t advocate, and can’t advise, and can’t interpret.

If the angry buyer understood all that up front, she would not have been angry with the agent; she would have been angry with herself.

“So how could my agent be fair to both sides?”
The answer to this question in the middle of Fred’s fact scenario is actually pretty simple: treat both sides honestly (do not say anything other than the truth) without revealing facts unknown to one side that the other side prefers be kept secret. Don’t lead one party to think that you are going to advocate for them. At all. (Of course, if that surprises anyone at the end of the day, the right conversations did not happen at the beginning of the day.)

Of course Fred is right that this may be legal but ill-advised. Especially for a seller, who is the one giving up important rights to representation. (At the point at which the proposal is made that the same agent represent both, the buyer is unrepresented.)

You have to go back to point [2] for the agent to have the ability to be fair to both sides. Instead of asking for a Dual Agency acknowledgement, the agent could have presented the buyer with a form identifying her as agent for the seller (only). The agent can then be “fair” to the buyer by not telling the buyer anything that is not true. The buyer would know not to ask for advice, or (if asked) the agent would say simply “I work for the seller; I do not represent you”.

There is some money at risk here for the agent, of course. If the buyer decides that a buyer agent would even up the negotiations, under REBNY rules the buyer could bring in that agent to make the bid and the sales fee would be split. I can’t think of any other reason (without getting into ridiculous hypotheticals) why an agent would want to try to persuade the seller whom they already represent to give up some of that representation, other than that the agent will not have to split the fee.

greatest hits
Previous Manhattan Loft Guy posts on agency disclosures (caution: these babies are long; I will think of Fred as I try to be more brief in the future [promises, promises!]):

September 1, 2010, new real estate agency law disclosures coming to Manhattan in 2011, about the to-be-effective-January-1 changes requiring written disclosures, not just verbal disclosures, with links to the forms, the statute, and REBNY’s rather curious spin on the changes

September 1, 2009, (bad) quote of the day / lawyer stumbles in NYT real estate Q&A, with an extended analysis of why a lawyer quoted in the Old Grey Lady sounded (for lack of a better term) like an idiot; again with actual disclosure form language and extended (very extended) commentary about how it "worked" in Manhattan and elsewhere before January 1, 2011

For some reason I did not write about agency on September 1, 2011, perhaps because I thought I had left that horse on the side of the road.

© Sandy Mattingly 2012
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May. 15, 2012 - telltale $9 shows bidding war for 100 Hudson Street loft

seriously: what’s so special here?
The fact that the “1,080 sq ft” Manhattan loft #8E at 100 Hudson Street recently sold with the last digit being “9” tells you that the loft almost certainly sold after a bidding war; that the clearing price is higher than the ask tells confirms it. As with most (but by no means all) bidding wars, this one was quick: it came to market on January 9 at $1.35mm and found the contract by January 31 that closed on April 30 at $1,400,009. That’s $1,296/ft for those of you scoring at home.

Yes, this is prime Tribeca (across the street from Tamarind, cater-corner to Nobu), but $1,296/ft in this no-frills coop exceeds the value of these similarly small-ish lofts in full service new-century condo conversions that have recently sold:

  • the very mint-y “1,308 sq ft” loft #3B at 43 East 21 Street (2004 conversion), which sold at $1,185/ft on April 24
  • the “upgraded” “984 sq ft” loft #3L at 655 Sixth Avenue in the O’Neill Building (2007 conversion), which sold at $1,280/ft on April 24
  • the “1,314 sq ft” “super chic designer” loft #4F at 21 Astor Place (2003 conversion), which sold at $1,218/ft on March 21
  • the “1,163 sq ft” loft with “numerous upgrades” #5L at 99 Jane Street (old century: 1999 conversion), which sold at $1,290/ft on March 14

And that is just in the last two months.

No disrespect intended, but neither the broker babble nor the pictures reveal anything special about loft #8E. The enthusiasm in the babble is remarkably specific: both “sun flooded” and “brilliant light all day”, with “great closet and storage space” and “soaring 12 foot ceilings”, with the single comment about finishes being “brand new appliances”. While there is a lot of utility crammed into “1,080 sq ft” (real bedroom + office + den), the floor plan has but a single bathroom, a limitation not addressed in the proposed alternative 2-bedroom floor plan.

answer: it’s tapping into a rich vein
My best guess is that the marketing campaign for this loft hit a rich vein of buyers looking for relatively inexpensive starter lofts in Tribeca that can support 2 bedrooms and are in move-in condition. In order to be a relatively inexpensive starter loft in Tribeca, of course, the loft must be relatively small, and the more mints the more dollars. These are modest characteristics; the only plus factors for this loft are the location and the light.

The inter-firm listing system shows that there was a single open house in this campaign on that first Sunday. It is not hard to reconstruct what that must have been like: wall-to-wall people or 90 minutes, most standing for a long time looking out those corner windows northwest, and down at Tamarind and Nobu. More than one set of visitors muttered to each other “this can work”, while looking nervously at all the other people doing the same thing they were doing (loitering with intent).

There is just not a lot to buy in Tribeca around $1.35mm. (A Streeteasy search today found 5 listings between $1.25mm and $1.45mm.) if you go back to the beginning of the year on the Master List of Manhattan Lofts Sold Since November 2008 you will find only 7 loft resales below $1.4mm, including:

  • the “1,200 sq ft” loft 184 Franklin St #2 that sold on March 27 at $1.085mm with an “architectural design” but no elevator
  • the “1,300 sq ft” loft 395 Broadway #9A that sold on March 16 at $1.275mm as an open loft with abundant possibilities and great light
  • the “1,300 sq ft” very problematic “raw maisonette” loft at 39 N. Moore St #1A that sold on March 3 at $725,000
  • the very primitive “1,100 sq ft” loft 474 Greenwich St #5N that sold on March 1 at $999,000, which I hit in my March 29, primitive loft at 474 Greenwich Street sells at $908/ft
  • the “1,163 sq ft” loft 395 Broadway #11A that sold on February 2 at $1.365mm with renovated kitchen and bath
  • the ground floor “1,439 sq ft” loft 130 Watts St #1S that sold on January 30 at $1.375mm

If you have been counting along, you have noticed that there is one loft missing from the list above. That would be a very interesting counterpoint to loft #8E: you already know that the “1,080 sq ft” loft #4B downstairs at 100 Hudson Street closed on April 4 at $1.17mm as a collection of lovely bones, because I hit it in my April 20, “great bones” 100 Hudson Street loft sells above where it “should” have. That was $207/ft below where #8E closed, which puts another spin on the #4B sale. In contrast to the move-in-but-not-’done’ #8E, #4B should be able to be renovated to exceed the condition of #8E for about $200/ft. Perhaps that #4B buyer got more of a bargain than I originally thought (though that thought was supported by data). Or (horrors!) perhaps the #8E buyers just overpaid. If so, they have an excuse: The Market made them do it.

To recap: there are not many starter lofts in Tribeca, and fewer still in prime Tribeca in move-in condition. In the current environment, there are enough buyers looking for starter lofts in prime Tribeca in move-in condition that when one comes to market at the right price, fisticuffs ensue.

There’s a trick to this, but it is not easy: at the right price. That’s how you get a loft selling at $9 above a very round number.

© Sandy Mattingly 2012


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May. 14, 2012 - MLG fave loft at 130 West 17 Street again shatters expectations, sells 1.7% above Peak

non-commodities can be hard to value
it is a good thing I am not sensitive, because I have once already been surprised by the clearing price of the recently re-sold “2,150 sq ft” top floor Manhattan loft #9S at 130 West 17 Street. The last time it sold (June 5, 2008, at $2.85mm) I thought it “closed above where the comps and building stats indicated the range of values” (that was in my July 15, 2008, 130 West 17 Street #9S went for it + got it, the second of two posts about that listing, with my September 23, 2007, 130 W 17 9S is new + really going for it). This time it sold at $2.9mm, a tiny premium to even that near-Peak above-comps sale, but at least this time there is the baseline of that June 2008 sale.

I will come back to that June 2008 sale, but it is clear that The (current) Market had little trouble accepting the loft: it came out at $2.995mm on December 10 and found the contract by February 9 that closed on April 16 at $2.9mm. The premise for the recent asking price was clearly the very similar June 2008 value, though I will confess to finding it difficult to articulate why Now should be higher than Then.

My working assumption (subject to seeing some facts that lead me in a different direction) is that this loft benefits from scarcity of true comps, so is more prone to Field of Dreams pricing. This is how I put it in my July 15, 2008 post:

My general point here is that the truism that The Market Is Determined By The Decisions Of Individual Buyers And Individual Sellers generates -- in my opinion -- more variation for lofts than for "apartments". Perhaps because there are so many more "apartments" than lofts in Manhattan, an "apartment" buyer is more likely to have more directly comparable choices of units in similar locations, of similar size, in similar condition. Thus, the general market should be more 'efficient'.

My specific point is that this loft closed above where it could have been expected to (by me, at least), taking into consideration its location (a great Chelsea block, yes, but one that did not generate a premium for #9N or #6S), condition (is that renovation worth $400/ft over #9N? or even more over #6S?) and the possibility of paying an additional and unknown amount for roof rights.

A loft that has no peers is a valuation problem, and an especially large problem for a buyer dealing with a stubborn seller. That was certainly the case in 2007 and 2008 (see the extended listing history, discussed in the July 15, 2008 post).

still exquisite, still dazzling light from 4 exposures, still a great location
I see exactly two things of potential significance that have changed from 2008 to now in the marketing of this loft. The kitchen island is gone, and they are no longer playing up the possibility of purchasing roof rights from the coop. (Compare the floor plan then vs. now; and the broker babble then vs. now; the kitchen is easier to compare by using this set of Then photos from the old Corcoran listing.) Everything else is exactly the same (allowing for different people to measure the same rooms a little differently at different times).

I don’t think that either of these differences matter for the current value, but I have a theory about those roof rights back in 2008 that I will get to.

I am not going to go to the trouble of looking for the best comps for loft #9S, as even I have my limits (you may be surprised to hear). But I have a high degree of confidence that there have been no lofts for sale recently, or recently sold, that have the combination of positives that #9S has: a highly efficient square footprint that is even more efficient for having so many windows on 3 sides (can we agree that the 4th “exposure” is a joke? if not see how long it takes you to find the one north window); plus “panoramic views and dazzling light”; plus the utility of 3 bedrooms and a windowed office; plus the high level of finishes; plus the 17th Street location in the becoming-more-prime east Chelsea corridor; all for under $3mm.

Any candidate comp you can find will have multi-variant adjustments to be made, with the utility fading with each adjustment.

my theory about the roof
I would certainly argue that the current value of loft #9S should be lower than that in 2008 (that contract was signed March 5, 2008), though I conceded that the Market disagreed with me on that. But I don’t think the current sale at $2.9mm would be (rationally) achievable without that intervening sale at $2.85mm, for the same reasons stated (about which I was wrong, as events occurred) in my September 23, 2007 and July 15, 2008 posts.

My theory is that the June 2008 buyer was persuaded to (ahem) significantly over pay for loft #9S then because the additional plus factor of “the coop is receptive to the purchase of roof rights for private use”. As hard as it is to comp this loft as-is (or as-was), it would be exponentially more difficult if you had to find comps with roof rights.

Having done that job of goosing the 2008 value, the roof rights are not mentioned in the current babble but the hangover effect of that $2.85mm clearing price still operates to set a justifiable range of values. This theory only works if that 2008 buyer was excited about developing the roof, but it is the one reed I can cling to that takes the June 2008 value into rationality.

does 130 West 17 Street sit at a break in the space - time continuum?
Wise guy readers of Manhattan Loft Guy will remember that I have had trouble with comps for other lofts in this building. I paraded that trouble in my February 9, 130 West 17 Street loft flies through market, beating (my) expectations, in which I confessed to have advised buyers that the “1,200 sq ft” or “1,300 sq ft” Manhattan loft #5S had an inflated asking price by reference to actual sales in the building, despite the (later established) fact that it sold fairly quickly at only a small discount.

i would like to think that it is not arrogance that leads me to continue to believe that some of these loft sales are ‘beyond comps’, that the best analysis of past sales data does not guarantee that an individual buyer and an individual seller will generate a market price that cannot be fit rationally into the past sales data.

In any Manhattan residential real estate market niche you can find someone who says (by word or deed) “I don’t care what the comps say, this is what it is worth to me”. When a seller persuades a buyer that the buyer can’t have the unit except on that basis, you get sales that are not rational, or beyond comps, or outliers. With two in the same building, there may be a break in the space - time continuum at 130 West 17 Street, but I can hardly entertain that notion and stay rational....

© Sandy Mattingly 2012
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May. 13, 2012 - Sunday diversion, mf & hoops edition

those were the days
While Andy Pettite practices his big league stare in the Bronx, Roger Clemens stews in DC, and mothers everywhere recover from their home-made breakfasts, let’s go the the basketball courts, though not to the NBA. To DC in the late 1950s when The Big Guy from Philly sojourned in Washington, “hosted” by the Main Man in DC.

Lovely piece from Dave McKenna in Grantland about Wilt Chamberlain, Elgin Baylor and some over-looked playground games. Enjoy.

And happy day to all the mothers out there. (You mfs know what to do with yourselves.)

© Sandy Mattingly 2012

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May. 12, 2012 - Atalanta loft at 25 N. Moore Street did not triple in value in 10 years

though cigars may still be in order
The “2,907 sq ft” Manhattan loft #5A at 25 N. Moore Street (Atalanta) was recently resold by the original owner, 11 years after the loft was bought from the developer. I assume the sellers were happy with the space (it is lovely, with an interesting live-work layout), and (though they wanted more) that they were happy to (almost) triple their original purchase price:

Feb 12, 2001 sold $1,502,000
Sept 20, 2011 new to market $4.65mm
Jan 25, 2012   $4.25mm
Feb 26 contract  
April 30 sold $4.25mm

I am impressed with the price drop. Talk about a successful bullet bitten! Many people succumb to the temptation, even at this price point, to nibble a bit with price reductions. These folks gave it a real shot for 4 months, then took a $400,000 hit that did the trick in 4 weeks. Nicely played, sir, nicely played.

splitting bedrooms, working hard
For a building with as large a footprint as the Atalanta, it is unusual to see a loft described as “floor through”, but the wording is apt for #5A. The master suite and open office look south over N. Moore Street (with open angled views to the southeast) and the second bedroom and “suite” look north (probably at the Troop A and First Precinct at this height; note that no northern windows are pictured). While not a full floor, the floor plan extends through the building with a rather squat Long-and-Narrow footprint, with windows only on the north-south narrow ends.

What is unusual about this floor plan is that the bedrooms are not both across the back wall but are at opposite long ends of the loft, and that the public space in the loft has no direct access to windows. The south end of the loft has that open office with open shelving that permits the windows to be seen from the living room, while windows at the back of the loft are closed off by that “suite” (with smoked glass doors?) and the second bedroom. Apparently, these folks needed not one, but two, good-sized work spaces in the loft, and spend enough time there to devote scarce windows to those (widely separated) work spaces.

For a loft with nearly 3,000 sq ft, I suspect that there is much less of a sense of volume in this space than if it had a more typical Long-and-Narrow floor plan, with the south end being entirely open and the single best view (that southeast corner) being present to the public space rather than closed off in the master suite. Such is life at the Atalanta, however. That corner of the duplex below is also closed off to public space (on both floors), as is the same corner in the loft on the second floor. (That corner view is much less interesting from the lower floor, of course, but it is interesting that that’s where bedrooms go in this layout.)

then-to-now values
The experience of these sellers getting 2.8 times their initial purchase price on resale compares well to recent resales for which I can find original sponsor sale prices. The last resale here was loft #7C on September 15, 2011 for $3mm. That was not by an original owner, as it had re-sold in 2007, but that 2011 resale was (only) 2.3 times the sponsor sale of November 2002.

That duplex right below #5A may sell again at a higher price, but the last time it sold (August 2010) that distressing sale at $5.6mm was barely 1.8 times the May 2001 sponsor sale at $3.045mm; a full price deal would still be only 2.6 times the sponsor price.

Loft #5A did pretty well at nearly 3 times the sponsor sale, wouldn’t you say?

© Sandy Mattingly 2012


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May. 11, 2012 - loft without walls sells for $1,098/ft at 60 East 13 Street

it is a lifestyle thing
For a loft condominium conversion dating only to 2005, the “2,575 sq ft” Manhattan loft #5E at 60 East 13 Street has an old school look, at least insofar as the (very open) floor plan is concerned. Apart from the walk-in closet in the southwest corner of the loft, the only walls in this rather large space are needed to keep the bathrooms private. Sorta like the “layout” conceived of by a single guy in a 1980s downtown loft with more space than he knew what to do with; the kind of loft that over the course of 30 years had bedrooms filled in, as needed. Nor is there much else in this space to brag about. The kitchen is simply “windowed open kitchen with breakfast counter”; the bathrooms are simply “1.5”; the fact that there is “fantastic light through 16 oversized windows” is a matter of bones, not finishes.

Yet, despite the vast open space and the restrained broker babble implying that serious upgrades are in order, the loft spent little time on the market to sell at $1,098/ft. It came to market on January 27 at $2.975mm, found a contract by March 10, and closed on April 27 at $2,827,500. I am going to say it is either because of the location, the location, or the location.

rental conversions are variable
Prior to being converted to condos in 2005, 60 East 13 Street (at the corner of Broadway) was a rental building with two wings, in an “L” shape: 5 floors on one side (east) ran along 13th Street to Broadway; 4 floors on the other side (west) were mid-block and are oriented north-south. I can’t find out what interiors looked like as a rental, but I bet that loft #5E looked then like it does now. StreetEasy does not have the listings from the 2005 sponsor sales, but (miracle of miracles) our listings data-base has a link to the original PruDE listing for loft #5E. Despite the floor plan with that listing of “the East Wing Plan” showing 3 bedrooms and 2.5 baths, it is clear from the pictures that the space never got built out beyond what you see in the current listing. My guess is that someone had rented in with that configuration, probably for a long time, and all they did to dress it up as a condo was to refinish floors and paint. Maybe they put in new appliances. Back then, it sold for $1,985,587 ($771/ft).

Contrast the unchanged-from-2005 top-floor loft #5E with top-floor loft #4W, which re-sold approaching The Peak in very different condition than when the sponsor sold it in 2005. The “1,875 sq ft” loft #4W sold on July 3, 2007 at $2.45mm ($1,307/ft) (full description, pix and floor plan survive on the Corcoran site), after being sold for $1,663,057 ($887/ft) by the sponsor in 2005. (The only reason for the difference between the sponsor prices for #4W and #5E is the much higher ceilings and skylights in #4W.)

That 2005 PruDE listing has an as-is and alternate floor plan showing that #4W was delivered as an open loft with only one bath. Note the contrast between the enthusiasm of the 2007 #4W broker babble and the ho-hum babble for #5E in 2012:

open gourmet kitchen, sophisticated built-ins, SNE exposures and is in mint condition. 15.5 – 19 foot ceilings allow someone to add square footage to use as a den or home office. Located in an elevator building steps from Union Square, this beautiful space must be seen to be fully appreciated.

Loft #4W re-sold in 2007 in an improved and built-out condition; #5E re-sold last month just as it was in 2005. Considering that, and considering that #4W sold at a 15% premium over #5E in the first place, the 19% spread between #4W at $1,307/ft in 2007 and #5E at $1,098/ft in 2012 seems well within the range that an efficient market should tolerate. (If anything, you’d expect the spread to be a bit higher after #4W was improved.)

For those of you who believe in such things as an efficient market....

© Sandy Mattingly 2012
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May. 10, 2012 - will it be lofts? new residential development to replace "asylum" at 124 West 16 Street

not worth $1,000/ft (as is)
In looking at newly filed deeds this weekend to update the Master List of Manhattan Lofts Sold Since November 2008 (17 loft resales filed last week!), I came across this odd one: The French Evangelical Church Of New York sold its “4,000 sq ft” building at 124 West 16 Street to some anonymous and eponymous LLC on April 16 for $4mm. That’s $1,000/ft for those of you without sense, or a calculator. StreetEasy says it is a 3-story building on a “2,581 sq ft” lot that has been classified as a “Miscellaneous Asylum and Home” (gotta love that arcana). $1,000/ft seems like a difficult place to start a renovation or conversion, doesn’t it? But (as they say in late night television) wait … there’s more!!!!

Permits have already been filed for a demolition and new building. For those of you with access to Property Shark info, The Shark shows the demolition permit was filed March 16 and the new construction permit on April 6, with two new liens from Midfirst bank totalling $9,161,515, presumably to finance the entire project. The Shark thinks the FAR for the site is 6, that zoning is R8A, that the building is not landmarked, and that the lot is not in a historic district.

Someone better versed than I am in deciphering building permits may extract more information from the New Building application filed with the New York City Department of Buildings, but I see that (if approved and actually built) the new building will be 6 stories, 12,643 sq ft of Total Construction Floor Area, with an Occupancy Classification of Residential - Apartment Houses, covering 70% of the lot, with a perimeter wall height of 80 feet. I can’t find again where I saw it in these documents, but the project will be full-floor residences, so they sound like lofts to me.

architect and developer, again
The architect is David Howell of DND Architecture Design PLLC, but I found no renderings or mention of this project on his website.

The LLC rep who signed the DoB forms uses an email address associated with this real estate business, and has the same last name as the founder of that company.

The inter-tubes tell me he was also associated with the developer of the 5-story residential condominium “classic loft conversion” in 2007 at 225 East 24 Street, using this contractor. The last sale there was the resale of the second floor “3,600 sq ft” loft on December 9 at $3.84mm. When first marketed, these lofts aimed for the high-end market in a non-traditional loft area:

Architectural detailing such as cast iron columns, exposed brick walls with arched insets intersect stylishly with loft classics like high ceilings, wood floors, wood burning fireplace and expansive windows. North, South + West exposures with a 30’ frontage space to create a perfect entertaining and living environment. The open kitchen has stainless Euro fixtures offset by white lacquered cabinetry and bathrooms envisage an understated elegance.

That LLC rep and that inspection company founder were two-thirds of the developer team for the 7-story loft conversion 316 East 22 Street (identified as the same developer team as at 225 East 24 Street, here) that sold in 2010. That building’s StreetEasy page has this building description:

award-winning architect David Howell has put the classic New York loft inside a sleek modern envelope. With 316 East 22nd Street, he has created 6 dramatic, 40-foot-wide, full-floor residences filled with high-end interiors and top-of-the-line details. Discover the best that 21st century design has to offer...

Howell got a below-market deal on his 2nd floor loft in this project, which he features on his website and which is the subject of a Kiwi magazine profile linked on his site.

Presumably, the new project at 126 [oops] 124 West 16 Street will be of the same quality. Interesting that this Chelsea block, like the East 22 Street and East 24 Street blocks for their prior projects, is not a traditional classic loft block. In the two prior cases, they converted existing non-residential loft spaces to residential; with 126 West 16 Street they will be building a new building.

© Sandy Mattingly 2012

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May. 9, 2012 - 2011 new development loft, nicely flipped at 23% at 16 West 21 Street

take the money and run
One never knows what condo investors plans are, as some people who intend a quick flip end up being constrained by market forces working against them and others who plan on a longer term take opportunistic gains. Planned or not, the investor LLC that purchased the “1,368 sq ft” Manhattan loft #4A at 16 West 21 Street in the 2011 new development saw an opportunity, and ran with it. Having paid $1.52mm on March 2, 2011, the LLC put it on the market on February 1 at $1.79mm, seeking a healthy gain and capital gains treatment. The Market viewed that ask as a bargain, as it went into contract on February 28 (per our listing system; StreetEasy says March 1) and closed on April 20 at $1.875mm, a 5% premium to the ask and a 23% premium to the purchase price less than 14 months earlier. I will play with those numbers below, after touring the loft and bashing some babble.

classic form, new building
The loft is a full-floor floor-through, with a typical Long-and-Narrow floor plan: 2 bedrooms split the back wall, one long wall has the guest bathroom and the public stair and the other the master bath, elevator and kitchen; the windows are only on the narrow walls.

There are no room dimensions, but Property Shark has the building dimensions as 25 x 60 feet, yielding a outer wall footprint of 1,500 sq ft; taking the common stairwell and elevator out probably gets you to the “1,368 sq ft” quoted in the Offering Plan, but remember that that number includes the interior of the outside walls; if the masonry is one foot thick all around, 170 of the “1,368 sq ft” are within the walls.

No slur intended, but there is not much else to do with a Long-and-Narrow footprint of this size with no side windows. The juice for this still-nearly-new development is in the finishes. The current broker babble is actually rather restrained, while hitting the high notes that this is high quality:

open kitchen is ultra sleek and modern featuring a suite of Miele appliances, Sub-Zero refrigerator, and expansive stainless steel countertops. Both bathrooms have heated floors, deep soaking tubs, and fogless mirrors. En Suite master bath also has a steam shower and heated towel bar for added luxury. ... house amenities such as keyless entry, doorman 9am-9pm services, keyed elevator, spa & fitness center with steam & sauna rooms, refrigerated storage, package room, and a common roof deck.

That may not read as restrained to you, but contrast that with the word salad in the sponsor’s marketing prose:

a modern landmark building with an exquisite custom glass facade that frames the warmth of the light and vibrancy of the life within. Zac Posen, design wunderkind has crafted the building’s interiors by coupling an artisanal philosophy with the most progressive vision, each of the unique residences and every inch of every common area balances the human and the modern, the handmade and the technological, so that your life here will be uniquely more satisfying, more personal and more creative. The living rooms at 16W21 spanning approximately 23 by 14 feet, boast generous proportions that privately accommodate the most alluring cocktail parties imaginable. With a suite of Miele appliances, sub-Zero refrigerator, expansive stainless steel countertops and bespoke color options, the custom designed kitchen at 16W21 is the perfect canvas for your culinary creativity. So while each full-floor residence offers house amenities such as keyless entry, doorman services, keyed elevator, spa & fitness center, refrigerated storage, package room, and a common roof deck, equal measures were paid to making an environmentally friendly building that is targeted for LEED Silver Certification

I would normally use many ellipsis (ellipses?) for such a big block quote, but I did not want anyone suspecting that I selected only hyperbole and thesaurus thumping. That thing is all hyperbole and thesaurus thumping: “every inch of every common area balances the human and the modern”; “your life here will be uniquely more satisfying, more personal and more creative”; “proportions that privately accommodate the most alluring cocktail parties imaginable”; “bespoke color options”.

In comparison, calling a kitchen “ultra sleek and modern” and countertops “expansive” is restrained.

Can photos evidence hyperbole? If so, the recent listing pix for loft #4A do. I don’t know that the technical term is for the distortion effects in those first two photos is, but I would call it a fun-house mirror effect. Contrast the shape of the black leather recliner in the first photo (short, 2-person wide) with the same piece of furniture in the second photo (really loooong); or compare the widths of the front room windows to each other in each photo, and then between those first two photos, and then note that on the floor plan they are (surprise!) identical in width. Perhaps I look at too many listing photos, but I find these distortions to be jarring.

back to the investor math
Perhaps StreetEasy missed it, or perhaps the LLC leveraged some of the $1.52mm March 2011 purchase price without encumbering the condo, but there is no record of the LLC putting a mortgage on loft #4A. No leverage seems odd for an investor, particularly for a short term investor.

On the expense side, we have the purchase price (which includes any transfer taxes, if the purchaser paid them), no apparent mortgage, the common charges and (abated) real estate taxes for 14 months, and the sales fee on the way out, omitting miscellaneous other expenses, so the red numbers look like this:

$22,498 (14 x $1,434 + $173)
$112,500 (6% of $1.875mm)

On the positive side of the ledger, the big number is the sales price of $1,875,000, but a critical and missing data point is the rent paid by that “tenant in place until 4/5/12 providing a great rental income”. For ballpark purposes, let’s assume that the rent paid for #4A is similar to the rent paid for #5A, which was rented as of may 1, 2011 off an asking rent of $7,800/mo, but let’s discount from the ask to $7,500/mo. Assuming that the #4A tenant was in place for 12 months only, the black numbers look like this (more or less):

$90,000 (12 months at $7,500)

Combining the different color numbers bring us to a ballpark result:


That’s a 20% gain in 14 months, assuming no leverage. With leverage, of course, the expenses go way up, but the red number will go down even more dramatically due to the reduced purchase cash.

Net-net, whether in a ball park or in real life, these numbers are likely close enough to the real numbers to safely conclude this was a very successful flip. What does the LLC do for an encore?

© Sandy Mattingly 2012

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May. 8, 2012 - ballyhooed artist loft with unique floor plan + top kitchen sells for $962/ft at 307 West Broadway

famous in New York Times, and Manhattan Loft Guy
Talk about using the Real Estate Industrial Complex, Manhattan Media Division to your benefit! I have to wonder if there is any connection between the fact that the “3,300 sq ft” Manhattan loft on the 7th floor at 307 West Broadway that just sold was brought to market within two months of having been the subject of a lovely piece in the New York Times about Soho, back in the day. I hit that Times piece in my August 7, 2011, Soho in 1983: $211,000 for 3,300 sq ft; still an artist's loft., which gave me the chance to walk down memory lane, as I knew well the brick-strewn lot across the street from #307 (which a reader corrected me was the former St Alphonsus Church site, lost to foundation problems from the underground stream). Whether the Times piece coincided with or prompted the idea, the long-time, old school artist types who built this loft and lived to negotiate construction indemnification agreements with the developers of the Soho Mews next door put the loft up for sale on October 4. (Maybe, after the lovely publicity, they had people asking if they would sell.)

They shot for the moon in pricing, but accepted the stars:

Aug 7, 2011 NYT  
Oct 4 new to market $3.75mm
Jan 11, 2012 contract  
April 23 sold $3.175mm

no stars below
The 7th floor loft is in better condition than the loft immediately below, which was being offered for sale when the NY Times piece was published, as I noted in my August 7 post. As I said then about the 6th floor, then asking $2.8mm, “[t]hat loft appears to be in truly primitive condition, with just one bath, compared to the 7th floor with its nice (modern) kitchen with a huge Viking cook top“, and

Of course, that loft has not yet sold, so the asking price is just the ... you know ... asking price. But $2.8mm might well be a reasonable starting point for negotiations for a “3,300 sq ft” loft in much more primitive condition than the 7th floor.

Wherever those negotiations for the 6th floor started, they ended at $2.45mm. I hit that sale in my April 16, artist loft clears at $742/ft in south Soho, 307 West Broadway, when the 7th floor was in contract but not yet closed. That spread of $725,000 between the 6th and 7th floors is fascinating, at $220/ft enough by itself to do a reasonable gut renovation. But I suspect that the 7th floor buyers will not gut the place, as the front of the 7th floor (featuring the “top of the line eat-in kitchen with chef’s appliances … [and] a spa like master bath”) looks to be in quite good enough shape to retain. I can imagine a buyer redoing only the back of the loft into 2 or 3 massive bedrooms and open space to take advantage of the north and south exposures. (The proposed alternate floor plan is about as simple [and inexpensive] a re-do as possible, requiring a new [or newly finished] floor and only the carpentry to put up 3 walls.)

Net-net, I am surprised that the 7th floor did so well in comparison to the 6th floor.

unique is in the eyes of the beholder
Lofts in the building are full floor, a nicely proportioned Long-and-Narrow footprint. On the 7th floor there are 5 south windows and 4 north windows, in addition to the front and back extensive walls of windows (arched in front!). One never knows what someone else thinks is “unique”, but the babble has this as “a unique floor plan that will intrigue”. Whether that is that because of the angled walls or because there is finished space up front and artist space in back, does not really matter; neither is a unique feature. But brokers will babble ….

The 6th floor listing contains several “view” pictures that offer perspectives that would also be available one flight up. I wondered in that April 16 post about one of the “views” offered in that listing:

There are more photos of the nearby environs than there are of the interior, which makes sense to a point. That point ends with the pic #6, looking southwest at the intersection of West Broadway and Canal Street, with its aggressive painting to prevent box-blocking suggesting the reality that the intersection tends to get backed up, with attendant horns. I applaud the presentation of reality; I wonder about the image as a sales item.

The 7th floor has the advantage of the arched front windows, which offer “Hudson River views to the west”. Maybe the extra 12 feet in height really makes a difference here, as you would think the 6th floor would have highlighted a river view (if it existed) given the prominence of the canal Street ‘view’.

If you like your wood columns au natural and the beams exposed you will prefer the 6th floor look; if you like white columns in white rooms, without exposed beams, you will prefer the 7th floor look.

one more time: an editing mistake or bad pun?
I didn’t get the NY Times headline back in August. (The loft-owning artist did not seem to need a muse.) Only for that April 16 post did I go back and notice the mis-spelling in the Times piece of Soho Mews condo as Soho Muse. Presumably, that is the source of the unfortunate headline pun, but I wonder if Constance Rosenbloom did that on purpose, or if she simply got the name of the 311 West Broadway condo as the wrong homonym.

© Sandy Mattingly 2012

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May. 6, 2012 - OYATOMLG one of the worst floor plans imaginable

few windows per foot
See my May 6, 2011, 245 Seventh Avenue loft sells after freezing in nuclear winter, in which a loft that did not sell in the post-Lehman market asking as low as $1.629mm sells in April 2011 at $1.675mm, with a seriously challenging floor plan featuring “1,800 sq ft”, two bedrooms, 1 window in each bedroom, and no other windows. Seriously challenging, indeed!

© 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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MTA subway site, including maps + schedules
NYC Dept of Education site
NY State Assn of Independent Schools (find private schools)
the local TriBeCa newspaper
"the weekly newspaper of lower Manhattan"
Brooklyn, but a great blog
Patell & Waterman&#39;s History of New York
The Soho Memory Project by a long-time resident
Tribeca Commons, an economist considers history, development + more
NYC Past photo tumblr
Manhattan Loft Guy Facebook page (use dropdown menu for Timeline)
the MLG Master List of loft sales, to Nov 2008
Tribeca Citizen
Malcolm Carter
Brick Underground, "vertical living demystified"
Daytonian In Manhattan a tourist&#39;s wonder with a local&#39;s eye
Urban Digs (numbers, graphs & charts, oh my)
True Gotham (very) occasional front-line dispatches
DNA Info, local news via the inter-tubes
The Real Deal, our industry rag
Coop and Condo (a lawyer writes with a funny pen)
Crain&#39;s New York real estate
Tom Fletcher’s NYC Architecture
Jeremiah’s Vanishing New York
Architakes, one guy&#39;s take
Scouting New York (location guy with camera)
Forgotten NY
Soho Alliance
Soho Journal
Chelsea Now (area news)
the essential. if ephemeral, New York
The Broadsheet Daily (especially for BPC, FiDi and Tribeca residents)
The Atlantic Cities


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