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Manhattan Loft Guy


September 2012

Sep. 29, 2012 - back to 99 Reade Street to see what the low ceilings on 5th floor support

one man’s ceiling is another man’s floor
I had no idea when I hit the recent resale of a 5th floor low-ceilinged loft at 99 Reade Street (September 21, flip city: 99 Reade Street loft sold in 2011 sells again, up 4%) that there was a 6th floor loft sale in the building that was then awaiting deed filing. That shoe dropped when the deed record reflecting the September 5 sale of the “1,528 sq ft” Manhattan loft #6E at 99 Reade Street (Reade Court) was filed this past Thursday. If you remember, the key salient point about the 5th floor of this 15 year old (then) new development is that this residential condo ‘conversion’ is a hybrid: the 1886 5-story structure had three floors added to it, in fact in such a way that the 5th floor (old top floor) ceilings were lowered to support the new construction above. The concept of building new floors on top of old was probably not new in 1994; more recent examples include the 2002 (then) new development, the Keystone Building at 38 Warren Street, and the 2003 Porter House project at 66 Ninth Avenue.

The result at Reade Court is a brand new 6th floor loft set back from the roof line and an irregular terrace on top of the old roof (let’s call that 250 sq ft). The footprint is a classic Long-and-Narrow with plumbing on both sides in the middle and enough width (23’7”) to fit a 15 foot wide master suite and an 8’3” wide second bedroom across the back (north) wall. In addition to windows front and back, there is a side window and doorway in the living room’s southwest corner, out on to the terrace. The original two bedroom floor plan was, to put it in classic broker babble, “architecturally redesigned to create a smaller 3rd Bedroom or home office without sacrificing the open lofty quality of the space”.

Apart from that added “architecturally redesigned” bedroom/office in the southeast corner, it appears that since the last century the loft has a new kitchen (a “mint chef’s kitchen [that] features GE Profile stainless steel appliances, granite counters, custom Italian cabinetry”, to be precise), a “wood-burning fireplace featured in the Italian design magazine Gap Casa in 2005”, surround sound, and two “spa-like baths with sleek designer finishes”.

comping the neighbors starts with an open question of height, alas
For all the Manhattan Loft Guy hoopla about ceilings heights in the 3rd and 5th floors in this building, I am chagrined that the broker babble is silent about the ceiling height of #6E. They do not look that tall to me; judging from the kitchen photo, not much more than 10 feet. (Probably taller than the ceiling in the #5W kitchen photo; definitely a foot or two shorter than the ceiling in the #3W kitchen photo.) That is an unfortunate gap in the public knowledge about loft #6E, because I am trying to understand the relative pricing in the building.

The point of my #5W v. #3W analysis linked to in that September 21 post is that the much higher ceilings account for the greater value on the lower floor ($1,221/ft v. $1,317/ft when both sold in  2011). Now we have #5W having resold this month at $2mm, the day before #6E at $2.115mm. Directly comparing them on a dollar per foot basis requires us to riff over the #6E terrace, of course.

paging Dr. Miller, Dr. Miller, Dr. Miller…
Applying The Miller’s rubric to start with a range of values for outdoor space as from 25% to 50% of the value of the interior space (see, as usual, my ur-post on this topic from May 6, 2010), I would assign this terrace at the lower end of the range. Although it is directly accessible from the living room (a mjor plus on ‘utility’), that (bamboo?) ‘wall’ is hiding (poorly) someone else’s private space or building mechanicals, the view from the terrace is hardly prime, and that very narrow portion in front of the living room is probably not pictured because it is probably neither very usable nor very scenic. Assigning the (roughly) 250 sq ft a value of 25% of the interior gives us an adjusted value for #6E of $1,330/ft (1,528 sq ft + 25% of 250 sq ft = 1,590 sq ft; $2.115mm / 1,590 = $1,330/ft).

That adjusted value for #6E compares to a contemporaneous #5W at $1,269/ft, only a 5% premium and not (perhaps) indicative of more than market noise for two lofts that differ on a highly valued feature (to some), that terrace. That $1,330 adjusted value for #6E also compares to #3W 21 months ago at $1,317/ft, a value that in the current market should probably be goosed a bit and certainly goosed above $1,330/ft. Proving (perhaps!) that the rather higher ceilings on the 3rd floor may even be a premium over twn foot ceilings on the 6th floor.

you can drive yourself crazy with apples to apples, to oranges, to tangerines
I am not thrilled that there is a third loft sale in the building in 2012, because Penthouse W is even less directly comparable to either #6E or #5w than they are to each other. This penthouse is a nightmare for comping purposes, as it has a very different mix of indoor and outdoor space (“1,100 sq ft” interior, “575 sq ft” exterior), with a duplex floor plan that features a double height living room, in part. It is also dramatically different from the other lofts here in the quality of light; it is so short that even the windows in the lower ceiling areas bring terrific light into the entire space on each level.

With 3 bedrooms, there is as much utility in the “1,100 sq ft” interior as in the “1,528 sq ft” #6E, but the sense of volume is different because of the ceiling height and the windows in the penthouse. The two terraces shuld rate at the top of The Miller’s normal range, if not higher, because they are direct;tly accessible from prime living space, they are just about at the top of The Miller’s sense of proper proportion for outdoor space (in a nutshell, that outdoor space in excess 50% of the size of the interior has diminishing incremental value), and they appear to afford vistas not available from the interior.

Let’s ballpark these “575 sq ft” as worth 50% of the interior value. That implies an adjusted value for #PHW of $1,236/ft ($1,715,000 / 1,100 + 50% of 575). That’s disappointingly the low value in the building for 2012, and indicative of limits on this kind ofg ballparking analysis of lofts that will appeal to different sets of buyers.

With that, I will call it a night, after some late Saturday night twists and turns at 99 Reade Street. Did I mention that comping is hard?

© Sandy Mattingly 2012

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Sep. 28, 2012 - 27 Howard Street sells above ask with (probably) the best low-floor view in Soho?

all because of Crosby Street
Having looked this week at a one floor difference in height that did not matter (much) in Flatiron (September 27, height makes a small difference as Altair 20 lofts sell at 15 West 20 Street), a two floor difference that mattered a great deal in Tribeca (September 25, height matters for 51 Walker Street lofts, even 2 floors). and a 6-floor difference that had a huge impact on Tribeca (September 24, for 69 Murray Street loft, The Peak was then, and almost now), and even last week at a 5th floor loft that underperformed against a 3rd floor loft  in Tribeca (September 21, flip city: 99 Reade Street loft sold in 2011 sells again, up 4%), today I may bring Manhattan Loft Guy Height Week to a close with a second floor loft that sold at a very strong price because of a terrific view. (Not a feature common to second floor lofts.) In fact (as you know from the headline), the “2,000 sq ft” Manhattan loft on the 2nd floor at 27 Howard Street sold above ask; and (here’s the news) at $1,324/ft for a space that, though described in glowing babble, really needs a lot of work. The reason is simple geography: 27 Howard Street sits at the foot of Crosby Street, so this loft has an unobstructed view up Crosby Street, essentially to the horizon.

the condition may surprise you
As I said,, the space needs a lot of work. But you would never know that from the terse broker babble (“STUNNER ...12 Foot ORIGINAL TIN CEILINGS, massive Windows with View up Crosby. Other high lights include an open chefs kitchen, central air, a spectacular master bedroom w/ bath ensuite, laundry, (2 gorgeous baths in total)”). Nor would you know that from interior photos, as there aren’t any. When was the last time that you saw a listing for a stunning loft with chef’s this and spectacular that that did not include interior photos??

I was hoping that the photos would jog my memory from when I saw this loft with buyers in the very short time it was available this Spring (to market: May 16; in contract, June 15), but, alas, I can’t be certain of the details on the interior. I do remember that our conversation on the street afterwards was about whether they liked the bathrooms, because it appeared as though the rest of the space would be renovated. (Maybe the kitchen was a keeper?? Or just the appliances???)

Perhaps it was the residents (tenants, I really, really hope), but the place showed very poorly. That front bedroom was a cluttered mess, and that back “sleep area” was more like a closet. The master bedroom was “fine”, except for challenge of splitting it in two, with problem of the bath on one side and the fireplace on the other; to create a (smaller) master plus second bedroom across that 22 ft rear wall should be simple, but for the choice to leave the fireplace in the second bedroom or close off the “master” bath from the second bedroom and make that poor sleeper walk 50 feet to the front bathroom. Finally, I recall that the floors needed finishing and the ceiling updating.

Other than that Mrs. Lincoln … the classicly Long-and-Narrow space was in move-in condition. (Not.) I went back to check our listing system, which shows that the listing agent input the description for circulation among REBNY firms checking the box “Good” for (overall) Condition, as opposed to the “Excellent” that you typically see for “stunning” lofts.

beats the heck out of a very nearby recent sale, and beats another a block away
27 Howard Street shares a lobby, but not the elevator (!) with 29 Howard, so I assume they are a single coop. I hit a fully renovated loft there that sold early this year for (only) $1,383/ft in my March 19, a question of views for gut renovated 29 Howard Street loft at $1,383/ft. I say “only” because that had the advantages of an elevator, a better (higher floor) view, and that full renovation, yet it sold for $1,383/ft compared to the 2nd floor next door at $1,324/ft.

You can pick out any loft sale you like from the Master List of Manhattan Lofts Sold Since November 2008  to look for other interesting comparisons to the 2nd loor at 27 Howard Street at $1,324/ft. Personally, I think the much larger (“3,008 sq ft”) Manhattan loft #10A at 129 Lafayette Street is pretty interesting, even if not (yet) blogged about here. That sold for $1,300/ft in very mint-y condition, with “brilliant light and breathtaking open views”, in a full-service condo.

Yes, there is a location value difference for being in Soho, as 27 Howard is, compared to being at the edge of Soho, as 129 Lafayette is, but I would caution you from going too far with that approach. First, remember the major differences in quality of the spaces, including the views and light. Second, look at the map: if it takes you more than one minute to walk from 129 Lafayette to 27 Howard (after you cross Lafayette), you are one of those people who clog the streets of Soho when I am trying to get to or from my office at Broadway and Broome.

from that short street to Memory Lane...
I talked about Howard Street in that post, referencing yet another earlier Manhattan Loft Guy opus from that block, Martin Scorcese, and a grafiitti artist:

Howard Street is one of the littler streets in Soho, with few reasons for foot or auto traffic. You can only get to this building in a cab by going up Centre Street or down Lafayette; any farther west and you can get back here. And there is little reason to do that, unless you live here or have business on that bottom block of Crosby, such as at the Hotel Mondrian.


I hit a nearby loft in my November 11, 2010, nice flipping loft at 49 Howard Street, in which I talked about that quiet stretch of street:

There is a sense that this building was in a foggy region (the fog that on old maps indicated the limits of the known world) between prime Soho, Chinatown and the moat that is Canal Street. Howard Street runs only four blocks, west from Centre Street to Mercer, and there is very little car traffic other than cars with business in the bottom block of Crosby, who need Howard Street to get anywhere. Not much pedestrian traffic, either. Martin Scorcese, who knows a thing or two about Manhattan street life, used this stretch of Howard Street in his 1985 film, After Hours. (If you click on the trailer, pay particular attention to the street view in the scene with the Mr. Softee truck.) I.e., d-e-s-o-l-a-t-e.


Here is what a graffiti artist Ellen Harvey had to say about this particular building in 2000, from the Howard Street side, in a book about her street art adventures written in 2005 (New York Beautification Project):


For some reason, this building in SoHo has avoided gentrification. It is completely covered with graffiti and full of garment workers. It’s a bit like going back in time.


Harvey talks about having to avoid the garment business owner on Howard Street. Her Beautification Project #9 was on this building; when she returned to photograph it the next morning, it had already been substantially covered by still more recent graffiti. She took her photos anyway (see the book excerpt).

With that, Height Week comes to a conclusion.

© Sandy Mattingly 2012

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Sep. 27, 2012 - height makes a small difference as Altair 20 lofts sell at 15 West 20 Street

expectations are met (mine, anyway)
The 2007 new development to residential living known as Altair 20 at 15 West 20 Street (a sibling to Altair 18 at 32 West 18 Street) faces a taller building across 20th Street, so you would not expect much light (and no ‘view’) from lower floors in the building. With such a recent conversion and marketing as a luxury condominium, you would not expect much variation in value unless a unit had been substantially improved since the sponsor sales in 2007. If you are an efficient market fan, you’d expect there to be only a slight premium for a higher floor loft in the lower part of the building over a loft one floor below, and you would be thrilled by the serendipity needed to test your fandom. Rejoice! The hyper-local market for “2,322 sq ft” low-floor lofts built out in well-appointed detail in 2007 on 20th Street west of Fifth Avenue in Flatiron has shown itself as an efficient market in 2012, with two recent sales that match up precisely as expected.

Lofts #3B and #4B are 2- bedroom 3-bath lofts with their original layouts and original finishes. They almost went head-to-head, with rather similar (and rational!) results:

#4B   April 16 new to market $2.595mm
  #3B May 25 new to market $2.695mm
#4B   June 1 contract  
  #3B July 10 contract  
#4B   July 25 sold $2.715mm
  #3B Aug 2 sold $2,665,800

That is a premium of 1.8% ($49,200) for the 4th floor over the 3rd, a little higher than I would have expected in a perfectly rational market (ha!), but well within a reasonable range of small-premium-for-higher-floor.

same lofts, different babble
The lofts are well dressed. The #3B babble is more enthusiastic than the babble upstairs:

state of the art Valcucine of Italy kitchen, … ribbed aluminum-faced Sub-Zero and Miele appliances, a wine cooler, coffee system, warming drawers, stove-top water faucet and stone countertops. … enormous master bath luxuriously clad to the ceilings with rare, imported, hand-chosen stones, ... Dornbracht fittings, radiant heated floors, a double sink, a separate standing glass rainfall shower, and a soaking tub replete with a Sony flat screen television. ...home office features beautiful custom cabinetry and pocket doors for privacy. Other luxuries include wide-plank dark wood floors, customized recessed lighting, 2-zone central air-conditioning, abundant customized closet space and laundry room with side by side washer/dryer

Enthusiasm gap and coyness about the proper proper names aside, that sounds like #4B, doesn’t it?

three full bathrooms with rain showers (heated floor tiles in the master bath), a full-service open or closed kitchen embellished with the finest materials and appliances, an in-unit laundry room with W/D, and extras such as a central home audio system, custom Lutron lighting, electric window shades, and custom California closets

The building description on StreetEasy reads as though it was taken from the developer’s description, and includes these finishes (lest you wonder if you should closely parse the respective babble to see if one might be in slightly upgraded condition than the other):

  • Radiant heat flooring in master bath
  • The finest selections of stone, glass, and marbles
  • Rosewood kitchens by Valcucine of Italy
  • Sub-Zero and Miele appliances, built-in cappuccino makers and double-zone wine coolers
  • Sony Wega flat panel televisions in master baths
  • Dornbracht fittings
  • Wood burning fireplaces

The developer’s kitchen description in the early marketing was so extremely over the top that I used it an ancient blog post (June 21, 2006) about loft style and kitchens, and the arm’s race. In that post, G4.2 a new generation of Loft kitchens: post-open, I referenced a New York Times review of ‘new kitchens’ that was … not entirely complimentary. As I said there, in coming up with different ‘generations’ of New York kitchens:

G3 loft kitchens reflect the arms war, especially in recent developments. As Marin says, the kitchen as fashion accessory: The “open kitchen has become a fashion accessory, the shoes or handbag of the new Manhattan apartment” and he uses the Altair condos at 15 West 20 Street and 32 West 18 Street as the archetypes, with an ad featuring a “youngish couple in matching aprons stand by an open kitchen island — more of a peninsula, really — giddily preparing dinner with five female friends who look as if they might consider spaghetti straps a food group. ‘In a 23-foot kitchen,’ the copy reads, ‘there can never be too many cooks.’”

(Oh, snap.)

not much competition, in fact (and theory)
The two loft sere in technical competition for the short holiday week after #3B came to market and before #4B went into contract. But the practical reality is more likely that #4B set the market into which #3B stepped rather than that buyers had a chance to play #4B off against #3B.

By the time that #3B came out on May 25, #4B had a great deal of activity, and almost certainly had an accepted offer after a bidding war. (The #4B clearing price was 4.6% above the ask; allowing time for even quick due diligence, the offer would have been accepted before #3B came out.) If the #3B sellers and agent did not know the precise terms of the #4B offer that was accepted, they surely would have known that there had been a lot of activity, and (building and agent scuttlebut being what they are) probably knew the approximate premium that #4B was going to get over ask.

At least, that is what the timing and #3B asking price tell me. (A) That #4B and #3B never directly competed. And (B) that the competition for #4B was probably limited to two bidders.

Doesn’t it look as though the unsuccessful bidder for #4B bought #3B? There was clearly at least one unsuccessful bidder for #4B as of June 1 ($2.715mm tells you that). Had there been more than one unsuccessful bidder as of June 1, there should have been a bidding war for #3B.

The funny contract price for #3B ($2,665,800) is the kind of number you see after a bidding war, but the #3B spread below #4B is too great for me to believe that 2 unsuccessful bidders for #4B would have stopped $50,000 below #4B. Maybe, but I very much doubt it. Look at how long it took #3B to get into contract. had there been 2 unsuccessful #4B bidder surviving to bid on #3B, the #3B auction and contract should have taken much less than 40 days.

That’s my story, and i am sticking to it. I would say it is much more likely to be accurate than any read of tea leaves, or ox entrails, or whatever other Manhattan residential real estate agents use to second-guess The Market.

Altair greatest hits
The only other Manhattan Loft Guy post about lofts at 20 West 15 Street (beside the kitchen hit, above) was from the days when I hit lofts while they were for sale, in this case (my February 18, 2008, 2 new on West 20 Street / building yin vs yang at 15 W 20 + 9 W 20) comparing two lofts head to head. I can see that some agents might not like that.

In an amusing coincidence, I hit the sibling loft conversion to Altair 20 when another pair of same-building, same-footprint lofts sold at Altair 18. That Jul. 12, 2012 - a tale of 2 lofts: did (removable) decor add $126/ft to value of one 32 West 18 Street loft? post is one of my recent favorites, as one of my very few forays into The Aesthetic World. With a serious fact-based market analysis, of course.

© Sandy Mattingly 2012


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Sep. 26, 2012 - Wall Street Journal jumps gun on quarterly market report, flogs Soho loft sale you know about

brilliant journalism
Regular readers of Manhattan Loft guy will suspect snark in that sub-head, but today, I got none. Josh Barbanel’s piece in today’s Journal, Manhattan Sales Continue to Climb, is brilliant journalism on two fronts. First, it scoops all the articles you will read next Monday or Tuesday, when the major brokerages release their quarterly residential sales reports. Second, it relies on primary source material, “a Wall Street Journal analysis of public sales records”, in contrast to the articles next week, which will be based on analysis done by others (you will see quotes by Pam Liebman about Corcoran’s analysis, by Greg Heym [and probably Diane Ramirez and/or Hall Willkie] about the Terra Holdings analysis for Brown Harris and Halstead, and by The Miller and Dottie Herman about The Miller’s report for PruDE).

Barbanel got a jump on the competition (the New York Times and …?) by using the Journal’s own work, to report on year-over-year and quarter-over-quarter changes in the overall Manhattan residential real estate market in average and median sales prices, volume, and inventory. I call that brilliant, as he should suck up some of the link juice that will probably still go the articles next week about the major firm reports, and will make those reports a bit of an anti-climax for those most interested in only the top line numbers (i.e., 97.17% of the readership, approximately).

The cherry on top for me is that the single specific example in Barbanel’s piece is of a Soho loft sale above ask. Manhattan Loft Guy readers will recognize that sale from my September 13, quintessential artist loft sells for $1,525/ft at 38 Crosby Street. (As I noted in that post about the address, “[a]s StreetEasy tells you, this loft building is also known as 476 Broadway. If you can access Property Shark, you will see the building dimensions given as 50 x 200 feet, but the accompanying building photos show that the Broadway facade is much wider than the Crosby Street facade, 5 double windows to 3.”) Here is what Barbanel reports on that sale:

When Susan Green, a Town broker, listed a SoHo artist loft in need of a gut renovation at 476 Broadway for $2.895 million in May, "the neighbors laughed," Ms. Maitland said.

But in two months the loft was in contract, and it sold last month for $3.05 million, 5.3% above the asking price. "We got eight offers from highly qualified buyers," she said, even though buyers in the building were required to prove that they were artists.

You knew from the asking and closing prices that there was a bidding war (until more resales are added to the Master List of Manhattan Lofts Sold Since November 2008 you will find this sale on Line 39 of Sheet1, with the clearing price in green) and now we know that there were eight “highly qualified” bidders. Remember, that is $3.05mm for a “2,000 sq ft” loft that needed a total gut job, though it has what I tweeted as “is the The Best View in #Soho? artist's loft (needs reno) for $1,525/ft!”. (Follow me at @ManhattnLoftGuy if you are visit the Twitterverse, by the way.) And we now also know that the building “required [buyers] to prove that they were artists”, a fascinating window on the practicalities of the Artist In Residence issue in Soho. (If you are familiar with my series on A.I.R. [links below, for the uninitiated] you will guess that Team Sweeney will argue based on this sale that the “restrictions” do not prevent owners from selling at [indeed, above!] market values, so what ‘s all the fuss about?)

That angle deserves its own post. (Some day other than this day. Note to self …)

a quick market overview
Barbanel’s analysis of the overall market shows:

  • volume at near Peak levels (“the highest sales pace since the third quarter of 2008”)
  • median prices up
  • average prices down (with an explanation: “decline in average prices reflected improving sales of lower-priced apartments and more sales of co-ops, which tend to sell for less than otherwise comparable condominiums”)

In contrast to Barbanel’s data analysis of the entire Manhattan residential real estate market, Manhattan Loft Guy posts tend to focus on specific downtown Manhattan loft sales, with the better ones stepping back to take a broader perspective. (I aspire, I really do: September 16, on its best days, Manhattan Loft Guy meets this (lofty!) standard of criticism.) In the case of the loft sale that Barbanel focused on, I noted in that September 13 post that there was a legit-Peak sale of the same footprint one flight below at 38 Crosby Street (aka 476 Broadway) that also needed a build-out and that (being only one floor down) should have essentially the same spectacular views. No one sale represents The Market, of course, but this comparison was interesting, to say the least:

Loft #8R was babbled as a total build-out (read between the lines, you’ll see) with beautiful views. With a December 2007 contract and a February 2008 closing, #8R was about as Peak as Peak can be. Yet it sold then at (only) $2.675mm, compared to #9R at 14% higher.

he’s not really cheating
The Journal “analysis is based on closed sales filed with the Department of Finance six days before the end of each quarter” so, one could argue, it is not really a Third Quarter market report. I suspect the Big Firms will not harp on that (publicly) when they release their reports next week, as their “Third Quarter” sales reports are not really Third Quarter market reports either. Those market reports cannot include all actual sales from July 1 through September 30, 2012 because not all those sales will have been recorded by the time the “Third Quarter market reports” are released next week.

Those big firms might argue that their report are better (more up to date) because they know about sales not yet in the New York City ACRIS system because their agents participated in so many sales on either the buy-side or the sell-side, but this is as much an acknowledgment that the “Third Quarter market reports” are based on a fiction as anything else. The Journal, in contrast, has begun to accumulate hard data from a public source that is consistent about timing (“closed sales filed with the Department of Finance six days before the end of each quarter”). And the Journal gets to scoop the New York Times.

Nicely played, sir; nicely played.

links? we got links!
And many thanks to Barbanel and the Wall Street Journal for an excuse to provide links to my series on the artist-in-residence “problem” (which, of course, generates another Note to self … to catch up on current events in the A.I.R. world; sigh....)

© Sandy Mattingly 2012


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Sep. 25, 2012 - height matters for 51 Walker Street lofts, even 2 floors

if they are the right 2 floors
Perhaps it is Height Week on Manhattan Loft Guy … yesterday’s September 24, for 69 Murray Street loft, The Peak was then, and almost now, looked at different views, light and values from the 2nd floor to the 8th floor on a south Tribeca block; today the recent sale of the “1,550 sq ft” Manhattan loft #8A at 51 Walker Street provides the opportunity to examine the different views, light and (yes) values from the 6th floor to the 8th floor on a north Tribeca block. Once you know that Walker 51 was a 2007 residential loft condo conversion (i.e., the condition of lofts in the building will be very similar), the contrast between two identical loft sales is stark, revealed by these numbers: loft #8A sold for $2.265mm on August 29; loft #6A sold for $1.97mm on August 10. That is a 15% premium for the 8th floor over the 6th floor, or 14.68% for those of you who want to be precise about it.

#8A   April 14 new to market $2.275mm
  #6A April 18 new to market* $1.975mm
  #6A May 4 contract  
#8A   June 6 contract  
  #6A Aug 10 sold $1.97mm
#8A   Aug 29 sold $2.265mm

(*6A was also offered for sale for almost 6 months in 2011 at $1.75mm and $1.975mm without selling, in what both StreetEasy and the inter-firm data-base treat as the same listing as the 2012 campaign that [re]started 5 months ago; for my purposes here and for the Master List of Manhattan Lofts Sold Since November 2008 I treat the 2012 campaign as a new listing because the time off the market [7 months] exceeds my [arbitrary] limit of 90 days.)

That little * about #6A in 2011 is important, because otherwise you would be tempted to say that the #6A seller was just too modest, and left money on the proverbial table in getting a contract within 3 weeks at a 0.025% “discount”. Fact is, the seller gave it a 6-month shot in 2011, without selling. (Also, lest you think he was an uninformed rube, see the not-so-funny-fact at bottom.)

$295,000 worth of sky (and Chrysler Building)
These two lofts have the same floor plans (#6A here; #8A here) and both were brand new in 2007. To repeat (again!): $1.97mm and $2.265mm.

The #6A photos are a little bigger on the PruDE site than on StreetEasy, but you can see in both sets the building across Walker Street in the living room photo and the rear of the White Street buildings out the bedroom window photos.

In contrast, the #8A photos (in large format, of course) show rooftop and sky from both the north-facing living room windows and the south-facing bedroom windows. As the broker babble puts it, “open sky and city views including the Chrysler Building”.

Next time you get into a “what is a view worth?” discussion with someone who has a general theory (such as: a basic open view is worth xx% or $yyy and a premium /iconic / water view is worth half again as much), you can say that it is hard to generalize but in this little corner of northeast Tribeca the demonstrated value was 15%, or $295,000. (You win!)

If you want to win even more (more data points!!):

February 4, 2011, these water views from a 505 Greenwich loft are worth $370,000 (really)
March 20, 2010, a $2 million view on Madison Square? comping at 15 East 26 Street

Fans of the Chelsea Mercantile know that I have used the many sales there, with many different views, as a rich laboratory for exploring the value of views. Here are two from this year, from opposite poles (if views have “poles):

June 21,  small loft sale at 252 Seventh Avenue is another double-sided bold name transaction
January 20, privileged Chelsea Mercantile loft clears near $1,700/ft at 252 Seventh Avenue

You can find all Manhattan Loft Guy posts tagged “Chelsea Mercantile” here.

fun facts
These are fun facts because they are weird, given what you now know about the 2012 spread between the market value of #8A and #6A. The sponsor sales were the opposite of what you’d expect:

#6A Dec 13, 2006 $1,893,945
#8A Feb 15, 2007 $1,761,345

I have to guess that the #8A contract was signed much earlier than the #6A contract, even though the closings occurred in the opposite sequence, as often happens with new development sales. Otherwise, whwy would anyone have chosen to pay more for #6A instead of less for #8A??

not so funny fact
The agent who listed #6A has the unfortunate habit of LOCKING HIS CAPS in his broker babble, which makes the text painful for me to read. But I persevered enough to be confident that the words “broker/owner” “BROKER/OWNER” do not appear. (You will already have noted that the agent’s name matches the seller’s name on the deed record.)

I assume the buyer was informed that the agent representing the loft for sale was the unit owner, as is required in such cases by New York State law. I will never understand why agents in these situations don’t make it crystal clear from Day One by adding “broker/owner” to the babble. (I whined about this most recently in my June 7, agent sells Chelsea Mercantile loft from San Francisco.)

© Sandy Mattingly 2012


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Sep. 24, 2012 - for 69 Murray Street loft, The Peak was then, and almost now

off by a rounding error
The “1,800 sq ft” Manhattan loft on the 8th floor at 69 Murray Street that sold in a very Peak-y sale on January 31, 2008 at $2.275mm just resold in the same condition at $2.25mm. That’s a trivial ‘change’ in value of $25,000 or 1% for those of you who haven’t had your coffee yet this morning. I’d call that essentially flat to a Peak sale. And, in that, impressive. (Note to self  … find more such resales at Peak on the Master List of Manhattan Lofts Sold Since November 2008.)

You have to go the the Stribling site to see pictures, but the floor plan is on StreetEasy. This is your classic Long-and-Narrow footprint with a rather extravagant set of 7 windows on the long east wall. Plumbing is widely spaced on that east wall and there’s a stack for the washer-dryer on the west fall. At 23 feet wide at each narrow end, there is room for multiple rooms in the back; in this case, a master suite and a sequence of home offices, though this could easily support side-by-side master and second bedroom. Typical of full-floor Manhattan loft footprints, the middle of the loft is more narrow than the ends, where the common hallway, fire stair and elevator pinch into the residential footprint, but in this case that is a relatively long pinch (more than half the length).

a long pinch
The grown-ups have allocated to themselves a master suite with two home offices at the rear, leaving anyone else who sleeps there to use one of the two “sleep areas” in the pinched area along the long east wall. Props to the floor plan designer: the sleep areas are big enough to be legal “bedrooms” and each has a window; I assume they are called “sleep areas” because those windows are on the lot line. Here’s where that pinch truly pinches: in a loft of “1,800 sq ft”, the smaller sleep area is 9 x 11 feet before considering that it is further pinched by a structural column. That’s what can happen when the grown-ups take up all the prime sleeping space across the broad rear.

The pictures show a lovely loft with the selling point being those large living room windows. (With 11 foot ceilings and 3 exposures up front, that living room screams ‘volume’.) The kitchen appears to have been updated in the not too distant past, but the broker babble emphasizes bones, not finishes:

This home with 11 ft ceilings and WBFL enjoys RARE open city views through large picture windows in the open living/dining/ kitchen area. Currently this loft accommodates a master bedroom, two additional sleeping areas PLUS two offices (one with a large window). Fully finished with prewar details and featuring C/A/C, private storage area, great closets, laundry room with sink and hardwood floors....

Of course the sellers wanted more than they paid at The Peak, but they were negotiable: they came out at $2.495mm on May 10 and worked to 10% discount to sign a contract within 7 weeks, closing at that $2.25mm on September 7. That suggests either that sellers knew they were unlikely to get their 2008 purchase price, or they were quick learners. Good for them.

height matters, when it means light
I am surprised by the value of all those windows on the 8th floor, and of what is outside them. I wouldn’t necessarily call “open city views” from an 8th floor loft in Tribeca “rare”, as these selling agents babbled it, but their value is on the order of $700,000 … one-third of the value of the loft!

That surprising math is based on the December 8, 2011 sale of the 2nd floor (exact same footprint, equal or better condition) for (only) $1.525mm. Maybe the 2nd floor floor plan is less attractive than on the 8th floor, with the ‘master’ bedroom squeezed into the front (a long walk to the bathroom), leaving a public space (kitchen, dining, living) that has a bowling alley feel (say, 14 x 56 feet) and a master bedroom with walls that do not reach the ceiling.

I can imagine a market discount for that layout, but $725,000 is rather extreme. The 2nd floor babble boasts of “south [windows] providing beautiful daylight in the living room, dining area and master bedroom”, but the rear bedroom photo has blinds drawn, a hint that there is little light and no view in the rear.

I struggled with the 2nd floor value when that loft sold, in my December 29, 2011, why did The Market put the hate on 2nd floor loft at 69 Murray Street?. I used the Peak sale of the 8th floor as a comp in trying to figure out why the market hated the 2nd floor so much:

The 8th floor is babbled as being in similar condition to the 2nd, though without the “gourmet” claim about the kitchen or the Aardvark, and with much better light from 7 windows on the long east side at this height.


To be conservative, take 10% off of Peak pricing for the current market and another $150,000 off the 8th floor for having better light and views, and you are left with an adjusted value for the 8th floor as a current comp of $1.9mm -- a full 25% higher than the 2nd floor sale. Take another $100,000 off for the view and light, and you are still at an unexplained 18% premium for the 8th floor over the 2nd floor.

In a bit of Additional Twitter Serendipity, I see the same JammySod @JammyPup whom I credited last week in my September 21, flip city: 99 Reade Street loft sold in 2011 sells again, up 4%, also provided a theory about the 2nd floor hate at 69 Murray Street. As in the update at the bottom of my December 29, 2011 post, he suspect the “v noisy bar” next door is responsible for the slaughter. I can’t say that I have experienced that very noisy bar on a very noisy evening (or in the wee small hours), but there has to be some reason for the huge spread between the 2nd floor at the end of 2011 and the 8th floor at both the beginning of 2008 and this month.

adventures in archive diving
The Manhattan Loft Guy archives also tell me that I hit the 8th floor loft when it was an active listing (back when I did such things) before it sold at The Peak. In my August 30, 2007, new + understated at 69 Murray, I had the temerity to imply that the then-ask of $2.35mm might be a bit of a stretch:

The price represents a pretty good Tribeca premium, considering its South Tribeca location and (relatively) high maintenance for a coop without amenities.

Silly me, as the facts (frothy as they may have been) reveal that the 8th floor was then worth $2.275mm, a mere 3% off the ask.

Regular readers won’t need the archives to remember my August 15, indispensable source tracks commercial upgrades on Murray Street, in which I used a very useful review of restaurant and bar activity on Murray Street by hyper-local blogger Tribeca Citizen (“the intrepid Tribeca Citizen”) as an excuse to review loft sales up and down the street.

That post has a bunch of links to Manhattan Loft Guy posts about a bunch of Murray Street lofts. Given the spread between the 2nd and 8th floor sales at 69 Murray Street, the last sale in the building next door is interesting. Recall that 69 Murray Street has “(relatively) high maintenance for a coop without amenities”. Yet the 8th floor has no sold twice at $1,250/ft or higher. The scale of lofts at 71 Murray Street is different (“4,002 sq ft”), but it is a condo with full-time doorman and taxes and common charges that are, nonetheless, only about $1.50/ft. (Compared to the 8th floor maintenance of $1.60/ft.)

The 10th floor next door sold to A Famous Couple, as was freshly recounted in my October 20, 2010, interesting price history of 71 Murray Street loft bought by Famous Couple. I will resist the opportunity for any Paul Ryan jokes, and note only that the 10th floor loft at 71 Murray Street has 4 exposures and boasted “dramatic northern city views”, yet it sold closer to the 2nd floor than the 8th floor of 69 Murray Street on a dollar-per-foot basis ($976/ft v. $847/ft v. $1,250/ft).

Did I mention (today) that comping is hard?

© Sandy Mattingly 2012

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Sep. 23, 2012 - Sunday diversion / a baseball cornucopia for geeks & sentimentalists

you have to start with Pythagorus and the Orioles
When last seen on Manhattan Loft Guy, Pythagorus was waving his finger at the Baltimore Orioles, predicting doom, sooner or later (July 8, Sunday diversion: of Pythagorus and baseball odds). Since then, of course, The Old Greek Geek has been watching in horror as the O’s continue to defy the odds. The Odds say, among other things, that a team’s record in games decided by one run should be similar to the record in all games, and that a team’s record in extra innings games should follow the same pattern (probably with a home team bias for last licks). The Facts say, however, that the 2012 Orioles are 27-8 in games decided by one run and 16-2 in extra innings games.

If you are a baseball fan, you have to love the 2012 Orioles, even if (perhaps especially if) you are a Yankees fan. They won 3 games this week in extra innings, one in 18, one in 11 and one in 12 innings. All on the road. If you are an Orioles fan, you have to jump up and down; if you are not, you have to laugh. Fans love David more than Goliath, always will. Even Goliath fans have to appreciate when David does well, rock to the forehead or not. (At this date, the Yankees are still leading the AL East, so we have not had a full rock-to-the-forehead moment. Yet.)

Rationalizers would ‘explain’ by saying things like “they have a great bullpen”. Rationalists would say that other teams with great bullpens do not have these records (Yanks: 21-22, 5-3; Rays: 20-26, 5-7; or Oakland, better at 22-17 and 9-5 but no where near Orioles numbers); they would add that we are dealing with small samples. I flagged this Jeff Sullivan piece from SB Nation back in July, and it is even more apt now, with more calendar pages burned:

Here's the good news for the Orioles and their fans: this is no longer a 162-game season. This is, for the Orioles, a 67-game season, and all kinds of crazy things can happen over small samples. Players and teams can over-perform. The key when you're an underdog team like the Orioles is to hang around and effectively shrink the season, and that's what they've done. They don't have to be better than a bunch of other teams over a full year; they have to be as good or better over several weeks. The probability is more favorable.

Long-term efficient market fans would observe that the market can stay irrational longer than you can stay solvent, which is kinda sorta what is going on with the Orioles. If they field the same team next year, they are extremely likely to regress to the mean performance in 1-run and extra inning games, and be 10+ games off the pace in 2013. But next year is not this year, as Yogi probably said.

For now: enjoy, knowing you are seeing something unlikely to be repeated. Even if they are throwing rocks at your club’s giant forehead.

(some) balm for Yankee fans
Watching and measuring baseball are two different things, as the baseball geeks might put it. Case in point: I fell into the “what’s wrong with David Roberston?” trap this week while saying bad words to a television screen. Grant Brisbee of that same SB Nation set me straight. (Another guy who writes [and computes] well about baseball.) If you are a Yankee fan, you will remember the sequence at the heart of Brisbees’s piece (with pictures!).

I watched that sequence of ball not being anywhere near glove, including saying a really bad word when Omar Vizquel (57 year old Omar Vizquel!)  hit that double on an inside fastball....

But Roberston is just being Roberston. And human. A little better performance some days, a little worse on others, but net-net the same very effective guy. So Yankee fans should not worry about #30, especially not as the Orioles are defying the odds.

kids + baseball, what’s not to like?
Let’s do an AL East trifecta, with a sweet story coming out of (of all places) Fenway Park. This is from ESPN a few weeks ago.

Money Quote:

Whether it's a boo, a cheer, or something inappropriate my mom wishes I didn't hear

Enjoy the pennant races, fans of all ages and persuasions!

© Sandy Mattingly 2012

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Sep. 21, 2012 - flip city: 99 Reade Street loft sold in 2011 sells again, up 4%

so many questions
Some people might look at the September 4 sale of the “1,576 sq ft” Manhattan loft #5W at 99 Reade Street (Reade Court) for $2mm and see that the big news is that it sold at that round number 15 months after being purchased for $1.925mm; really close readers of Manhattan Loft Guy would recognize that there is still a discount for low ceilings on this no-longer-top-floor loft; but I am distracted, wondering why someone who bought and moved to a lovely loft in April 2011 from a small loft rental around the corner would decide to move within 12 months. Where is she going? Has the Manhattan loft world lost a fan?

Let’s unpack these questions in order.

From a market perspective, this September 2012 transaction either shows a slight improvement in value over the market value of the same loft in April 2011, or it is simply market noise. I hit that earlier sale in my April 26, 2011, 99 Reade Street loft sales show sound and fury in market, but it’s no tragedy, wondering if a rather larger spread between #5W in April 2011 and #3W four months earlier ($1.925mm v. $2.075mm) was STRIKE sound and fury, indicating nothing market noise. If it is a single data point in a coming trend of a strengthening market for Manhattan loft sales, time (and the Master List of Manhattan Lofts Sold Since November 2008 will tell); if it is mere market noise, the explanation is likely to be that a stubborn seller, having paid $1.925mm on the way in, would not take less than her purchase price plus her sales fee on the way out, and held successfully to that in negotiations with her buyers.

I am inclined to the market noise conclusion, subject to finding other evidence of a strengthening sales market.

If you stopped to read that April 26, 2011 post you already know from my update that there is a potentially significant difference between loft #3W and loft #5W: the higher floor has lower ceilings. That fact is a non-trivial reason that #3W would have been valued 8% higher than #5W in (essentially) the same market.

That difference was pointed out to me by someone on Twitter (do you follow @ManhattnLoftGuy yet?), and was the basis for my April 30, 2011, 99 Reade Street and the value of low-ceilinged lofts in Manhattan. Not to go all meta on ya, but this post makes my third about the same loft, with only two sales. For reasons I would love an architect or engineer to explain, when they added two floors on top of this building to convert to condos 15 years ago they dropped the ceilings of the 5ht floor (formerly, top floor) lofts to support the additions, rather than supporting the new 6th and 7th floors on top of the old roof.

My source says the difference in ceiling height between the 5th and other floors is 3 feet; definitely a non-trivial difference, in this case perhaps enhanced by the footprint, as I said in that April 30, 2011 post:

The impact of the low ceilings is probably enhanced by the footprint of the “W” line: not Long-and-Narrow because of the irregular shape, but long enough that standing in the middle of the unit you are a long way from the windows, with a long run of ceiling running away from you.

where is she going?
Voyeur that I am, I of course wonder why someone puts a loft on the market within a year of having purchased it. (You know, that paragraph usually sub-headed eight million stories in the naked city....)  There is no (sensible) economic play, as the dollars are all but eaten up by the sales fee after buying for $1.925mm and selling for $2mm, and the left over pennies are consumed by the transfer fees on exit.

In this case, her notice address on the deed record is her (now sold) loft, so there is no hint of where she’s going, as there sometimes is. But I know where she came from, and her record is as a loft lover in a fairly small part of Tribeca. When she bought the “1,576 sq ft” #5W at 99 Reade Street between Church and West Broadway, her notice address on that deed was this “1,000 sq ft” rental loft around the corner and up a block. That trajectory was good, from a $5,500/mo rental with 1,00 sq ft to a $1.975mm purchase of a loft half again as large. Perhaps her luck holds and she is moving to a 2,500+ sq ft loft within a short walk of the subway stop at Chambers and Hudson....

© Sandy Mattingly 2012

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Sep. 20, 2012 - heavily discounted 133 Mercer Street loft just couldn’t compete

when bad things happen to good lofts
Trust me to explain (below) that the Manhattan loft on the 3rd floor of 133 Mercer Street that just sold for $1.75mm sold off of this listing instead of the 2011 listing that Streeteasy associates with the sale, so that we can start with the way this loft was abused by the market, instead of wondering why seller took a nearly 25% haircut many months after trying to sell. (We’ll get to that … promise.) Here’s the nut: the 3rd floor seller thought his loft was precisely comparable to the loft immediately above him that sold for $2.2mm on February 24, 2011. The market did not agree, persistently and emphatically, eventually deciding that the spread between these two same-building lofts was $450,000. As they say around these parts … comping is hard. The 3rd floor seller would agree (now).

we have to start upstairs
The 4th floor loft was an easy fit for the market at the end of 2010: coming out at $2.325mm on November 17, finding a contract by December 10, and closing at $2.2mm on February 24, 2011. The footprint is classic Long-and-Narrow, except for the array of windows: only one on the narrow rear wall, but one at that end on the long south wall and three windows halfway back on the long north wall; these windows permit the master suite to be up long north wall, with the second bedroom extending across the back of the loft with 3 exposures. All the plumbing is in the middle, including 2 bathrooms and a washer-dryer.

The broker babble boasts of light only in the front of the loft (“soft eastern light”) and none of the pictures suggest there is much light coming in from any other window. (There is no photo recognizable as the master suite; the second bedroom photo features more fire escale than light in those windows.)

The overall claim is that the 4th floor was “beautiful[,] elegantly renovated”, with some modest details: an “impeccable kitchen [with] top-of-the-line appliances including Sub-Zero refrigerator and wine refrigerator, Viking Stove and Bosch dishwasher”; a master bathroom with “mosaic tiled steam shower and seat”; plus central air and an in-wall sound system. The bones include 10’6” ceilings and a brick wall running the length of the loft.

The 4th floor suffered some heartbreak earlier in 2010, however. StreetEasy treats the marketing that began on January 13, 2010 by the same agent using the same photos, floor plan and broker babble as a separate listing. They started then at $2.495mm before dropping to $2.295mm. They got to contract by June 30 but that contract never closed, and they were back on the market on November 17, 2010, as above.

comping is …
That sale st $2.2mm on February 24, 2011 was rather relevant to the 3rd floor owner. Here is the full listing history, which surely implies that the seller believed his loft was the equal of the 4th floor loft.

May 26, 2011 new to market $2.295mm
Aug 2 hiatus  
Nov 23 change firms $2.25mm
Nov 28   $1.995mm
Jan 19, 2012   $1.875mm
Feb 23   $1.75mm
May 15 contract  
Aug 17 sold $1.75mm

Contra the 3rd floor owner, this history surely establishes that his loft was not in the same class as the 4th floor.

Part of that disadvantage is structural. The 3rd floor floor plan has but one bath, so no en suite bedroom. The side windows permit a bedroom away from the rear wall, in this case the second bedroom.

Part of that disadvantage has to be the condition, which is not as “beautiful[,] elegantly renovated” as the 4th floor, based on the testimony of the photos and between the lines in the babble. I will quote the guts of it so you will see how modest the babble is:

The living space is open and the use of space is flexible - allowing for a full dining area and a large living/entertaining space and perhaps an office area utilizing the room's floor to ceiling bookcases. The kitchen is open to the enormous room and the front windows border Mercer Street to the East. One window is a full height working door - if you prefer to hear Soho's sounds or enjoy a sunny day. The apartment has one enormous bath with a soaking tub and radiant floor heating and a good sized laundry and storage room. The master bedroom is large with plenty of built-in storage and the second bedroom also has a wall of built in storage.

All the descriptors are about scale rather than mints! (I cheated by italicizing them above.) The market didn’t buy it at $2.295mm. Or $2.25mm. Or the $2.2mm garnered by the 4th floor. Or $1.875mm. After 8 months of marketing, it took 2 months at $1.75mm to get that.

If that $1.75mm value sounds familiar, you probably remember seeing it (way back) in the 4th floor history on StreetEasy. That loft sold for $1.75mm on July 8, 2005. Way back, indeed.

touching your feet
As you see from he StreetEasy building page, the (full floor) lofts in this building have been described as anywhere from “1,750 sq ft” to “1,500 sq ft”, with “1,700 sq ft”  a pretty common claim. In our listing system the range is even larger, from “1,900 sq ft” to “1,500 sq ft”, with stops at “1,800”, “1,700” and “1,650”. But as you will see from comparing the 3rd floor and 4th floor floor plans, the lofts have the same exterior walls.

I am going to make a judgment call here, and use “1,700 sq ft” for all these lofts in Master List of Manhattan Lofts Sold Since November 2008, as the plurality result, rather than different sizes for what are clearly the same-sized lofts. That change brings the 3rd floor sale down to $1,029/ft, more in line with lofts on the Master List in less distinguished locations than fashionable Mercer Street (below Prince). Still 10% higher than the well-dressed loft 2 blocks due north that I hit in my September 12, “noted architect” will be disappointed that “incredible” 200 Mercer Street loft went for $939/ft, however.

fun fact
In 1992, the 3rd floor sold for $345,000. I would not be surprised if the kitchen then was very similar to that in the latest marketing.

© Sandy Mattingly 2012

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Sep. 19, 2012 - 250 Mercer Street penthouse a true trophy, sells quickly with very valuable terraces

caution: a no-snark alert
I am usually quick to snark about the foibles, ellipses and general awkwardness of broker babble, but comparing the relevant text to the photos and floor plan of the “2,500 sq ft” Manhattan penthouse loft #B1603 at 250 Mercer Street in Greenwich Village generates more appreciation than sarcasm. The Market agreed, as it came out on April 10 at $3.998mm and found the contract by May 30 that closed on August 14 at $3.94mm. For the sarcasm- (and calculator-) deprived, that’s a 1.4% ‘discount’ that may just have been a more polite response by the sellers to a reasonable offer than a "no counter" would have been.

This penthouse was combined long ago out of #B1603 and #B1604, with the current master suite (with laundry room and [still] separate entrance) at the east end of the lower level evidently having been separate from the rest of that level in the original floor plans. (How the upper level was allocated back in the day is impossible for me to guess.) The current floor plan has that transitional media room on the way upstairs, and then 2 small bedrooms, a library and the first terrace above, with an upper terrace still one flight higher, on top of the bedrooms and library. I will let the babble do its work in describing that arrangement (hint; that’s where the trophy is kept):

A wall of glass leads to the spectacular terrace that spans 37 feet and is ideal for alfresco dining, entertaining, sunbathing, relaxing and looking at the gorgeous views. A spiral staircase leads upstairs to the huge second terrace which has 360 degree views of New York City.

how big is that cherry on the sundae?
We need to know how big those terraces are if we are to try to figure out how valuable they are. Using the dimensions on the floor plan, that first tier is easy: a balcony of 24’6” x 5’6” and a lower terrace of 37’8” x 13’8”, or 37’8’ x 19’2” in total; let’s call that 722 sq ft. The upper tier is an irregular shape, 32’3” at its widest and 22’2” at its longest; let’s guestimate that at 478 sq ft to make the math easier. “1,200 sq ft” in total outdoor space. We will riff with that soon....

more babble, less snark
The interior space is in “mint condition” after an “extensive renovation” of the no-detail-overlooked variety. Details include

  • Brazilian walnut solid-wood floors
  • central air conditioning
  • “gourmet kitchen” with top-of-the-line appliances and Silstone countertops
  • a wood paneled dressing room with custom closets in the master suite
  • a master bath with oversized steam shower and honed Vermont Verde countertops
  • on that transitional media level, a “state-of-the-art screening room” with Stewart Firehawk Screen, a Bose Surround Sound System, custom seating
  • on the bedroom / library level, 1.5 baths and a wet bar

Clearly, this space has been laid out to maximize the impact and utility of the multi-tiered outdoor space. With so many levels and so many rooms, one could quibble and wonder if the space really feels ‘spacious’, but the walls of windows and 11 ft ceilings should satisfy all but the most critical quibblers.

are you ready to riff?
I am going to give this outdoor space a top grade for utility and views, even though that upper level if pretty far from the living room and master suite. In The Miller’s starting range of valuing outdoor space between 25% and 50% of the interior space, that would be 50% as a starting point. That leads to a ballpark (adjusted) value for the penthouse loft of $1,271/ft (2,500 interior + half of 1,200 exterior / $3.94mm market value).

Miraculously, we have a comp for interior space in the building that is not only recent (within weeks of the #B1603 sale), but in similar condition (“architecturally-designed ... in triple-mint condition”), and is the same size and utility (at “2,500 sq ft” with 3 bedrooms, 3 baths). Seriously, loft #C614 is a miraculous comp to set a building value for comparable interior space. That loft sold for $2.965mm on September 4, having gone into contract just 3 weeks before the #B1603 contract. As you probably already noted on the StreetEasy listing page, #C614 comes to $1,186/ft.

are you ready to quibble?
It is hard to ignore with that $1,186/ft as the baseline from which to analyze the #B1603 penthouse sale, though a quibbler might try. You should adjust for the 10 floors that the penthouse is above #C614, surely. But my read of the pictures is that the triple mints went farther in #C614 than in #B1603; that #C614 is in better condition. And I would value the simplex layout of #C614 more highly than the tri-level interior of the penthouse. Net-net, I am going to stick with that $1,186/ft as the baseline for interior space.

This baseline implies that the penthouse outdoor space is even more valuable than the simple riffing exercise ballparked. At “2,500 sq ft”, the penthouse interior was worth exactly what #C614 got: $2.965mm. That means the “1,200 sq ft” terraces were worth the balance of the penthouse’s sales price, or $975,000. And that means the exterior space was valued by The Market at $812/ft, or 68% of the interior, well above the top range of The Miller’s standard analysis.

Remarkable as that may be, the logic is compelling. Even if you quibble.

a short trip down memory lane
The last time I was on this block I was wondering if NYU’s expansion plans across the street had anything to do with the disappointing sale of a pretty sweet loft, in my September 12, “noted architect” will be disappointed that “incredible” 200 Mercer Street loft went for $939/ft (answer: probably not!). Now look at these 3 numbers: $1,186/ft, $939/ft, $812/ft. Those are the interior and exterior values for the 250 Mercer Street penthouse bracketing the value of the architect-designed #3F at 200 Mercer Street. That was only 2 bedrooms, 2 baths, but at “2,400 sq ft” and selling on August 16 (in between the two 250 Mercer Street sales), that loft looks like a good comp. But it ain’t.

The Market valued large beautiful loft space at 200 Mercer Street at roughly a 25% discount to large beautiful loft space next door at 250 Mercer Street.

Of course you can quibble that 250 Mercer Street has a doorman and common roof deck, while 200 Mercer Street is a no frills building, but maintenance for #C614 is $4,579/mo compared to (only) $3,200/mo for #3F without the amenities.

Did I mention (today) that comping is hard?

a longer trip down memory lane
For a very big loft building (274 units!), I have hit 250 Mercer Street pretty rarely:

fun fact from a century ago
Well, not quite a century ago, but in the last century, the combo penthouse #B1603/#B1604 sold for $600,000 on August 9, 1999, according to the Corcoran listings data-base.

© Sandy Mattingly 2012


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Sep. 18, 2012 - 29 East 22 Street loft sellers take the money and run (up 41% since 2010 purchase)

nice work, if you can get it
I can’t tell how the recent sellers of the “2,300 sq ft” Manhattan loft #5N at 29 East 22 Street bought the place in 2010, but I can see what they paid then, and what they just got. There’s quite a spread between $2.3mm on September 5 and $1.625mm on April 30, 2010. That old sale followed a long, unsuccessful chilly marketing campaign that started with a terrible mis-reading of the market:

May 22, 2008 new to market $2.75mm
July 9   $2.395mm
Aug 11 hiatus  
Sept 9 back on market  
Nov 4   $2.15mm
Feb 1, 2009 hiatus  
April 4   $1.95mm
May 7   $1.75mm
June 23   $1.699mm
Sept 3 off market  
April 30, 2010 sold $1.625mm

The sellers were on the right track in the Summer of 2009 but ran out of time, as this is what happened when those 2010 buyers turned into sellers just a few months ago:

Mar 21 new to market $2.395mm
June 7 contract  
Sept 5 sold $2.3mm

Same floor plan, then as now; with similarly modest broker babble. No doubt, the same loft that just sold for $2.3mm was purchased less than 2 ½ years earlier at $1.625mm.

one man’s country kitchen is another man’s modern kitchen
The usual kitchen modifiers in Manhattan loft broker babble range from (merely) “open” for needs-an-update kitchen to “chef’s” or “gourmet” or “top of the line” for, well, top of the line modern kitchens. What’s weird about the 2009 vs. 2012 broker babble is that the same kitchen that was described as “contemporary country kitchen” became a “Modern open kitchen” in 2012 (you can confirm this by comparing the main listing photo in 2012 to the second pic in 2009).

Someone must have borrowed my Dictionary Of Babble For Brokers, and I can’t recall what makes a “country” kitchen country; in this instance I assume the reference is to the inlays in the cabinetry, but that is a pretty thin basis. Nothing else ‘farmhouse’ or ‘rural’ that I see in the pix.

empathy, and its limits
Babble and potential aside, the main story remains the $675,000 that the recent sellers put in their pockets, less expenses, for their two+ years of ownership of this loft. I’d feel sorrier for the 2010 seller if that pain was not largely self-inflicted.

Having started trying to sell very near The End Of The Peak in the overall Manhattan residential real estate market, and one price drop too late to take advantage of what was (still) a pretty deep market, the 2009 owners stared the nuclear winter in the face, coming back to market one week before Lehman filed for bankruptcy, holding on in that new market for another 7 weeks without changing price, then holding firm (and cold) for yet another 3 months before dropping 3 more times as the rest of the market started to thaw, these folks gave up.

No shame in that sequence of unfortunate timing, though it is a rather spectacular example of disappointed sellers who made the wrong call about both fight and flight (see my November 15, 2010, flight or fight? the disappointed seller’s conundrum, 30 East 21 Street and 205 West 19 Street lofts edition). But why not test the full market again in 2010, when The Market was so clearly in rebound mode? Instead of doing that, it appears as though the sellers were persuaded to ‘save’ the sale fee by selling in a private at a discount to the very last of six public prices. Penny Wise, I’d like to introduce you to Pound Foolish.

It is a free country, of course. But  O. U. C. H.

© Sandy Mattingly 2012

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Sep. 17, 2012 - market corrects (slightly) too deep price cut for spectacular columns at 136 West 22 Street

an interesting dynamic
It has been a while since I highlighted one of the axioms of a busy (deep) market: The Market will correct a too-low price. In this case, the “3,272 sq ft” Manhattan loft on the 3rd floor at 136 West 22 Street just sold after two price drops, the second of which was just a bit too steep. The Market worked its magic to re-set the price just a smidge above the last ask:

Sept 29, 2011 new to market $3.495mm
Nov 29   $3.369mm
Jan 17, 2012   $3.195mm
Mar 20 contract  
Aug 29 sold $3.21mm

(omitting a 2-week holiday hiatus)

My guess is that the eventual buyer was not in the market until sometime after January 17, or else I would expect that someone who would pay $3.2mm would be a bidder at $3.369mm.

big layout, big loft
There’s usually nothing small about a “3,272 sq ft” loft, but in this case that is especially true as the footprint is classic Long-and-Narrow, where the “narrow” dimension is 35 feet and there is plumbing across the middle, on both long walls and in the center. That provides maximum flexibility, in this case with just 2 bedrooms across the back (the master bedroom is over 500 sq ft, with dedicated dressing room and bath additional) and a nearly square, nearly 1,200 sq ft great room up front with those 6 huge windows.

For lovers of classic Manhattan loft elements … those columns! “Massive” does not begin to do them justice (are they 30” x 12”?), with beams to match.

The loft is so big that even the laundry room boasts refrigerators: “suburban walk-in laundry room with washer and dryer and two refrigerators”, in what might be the first favorable use of the word “suburban” in a Manhattan Loft Guy post.

Can an architect or designer explain to me why there is a dropped ceiling toward the rear of the loft? It is not (just) to get light fixtures up into the ceiling, as you see lights in the living room ceiling in the first photo, lights and a speaker up into the ceiling in the 4th photo, before the ceiling drops, and lights in the 5th photo, of the office. Is it to establish a ‘transition’ from public space in the front to the private space in the rear? Serious question about design; I don’t get it, and it seems not to be necessary.

market does not love the building
As I will develop further in a bit, I am surprised that such wonderful space with such wonderful loft elements went for the not-princely rate of $981/ft. But I wouldn’t have been so surprised had I first seen that the last sale in the building lines up perfectly with the 3rd floor sale price. When the 5th floor was marketed last year, it went through a similar comeuppance: starting at $3.89mm on February 4, 2011, then dropping once before finding the contract on August 19 that closed on September 22 at $3,267,327, a scant 2% premium to the 3rd floor sale 11 months later, a ‘premium’ well within the range of market noise, and easily accounted for as being two floors higher.

Again, the Corcoran site has the best large format pictures, where you will see that the 3rd floor and 5th floor lofts are essentially identical, with the same layout and floor plan apart from having the original 3-bedroom layout across the back wall. The 5th floor has the same dropped ceiling, indicating that this was a sponsor choice back in 2002. (The 5th floor might have a little better light in the back, as those listing photos were taken with curtains open, as opposed to the oh-so-telling drapes drawn bedroom photos from the 3rd floor; again the pics in large format are easier to see on the Corcoran website.)

So The Market was consistent in valuing the 5th floor in 2011 and the 3rd floor in 2012. Both below $1,000/ft for well designed and very efficient lofts that (yes) blend classic loft elements with modern design and technology.

You can play with the Master List of Manhattan Lofts Sold Since November 2008 to look for comparably sized lofts that have sold in the last few months, but it is (surprise!) difficult to get comps that line up perfectly with these 133 West 22 Street as far as utility, condition and location. On the one hand you have the even more gritty block on which the “2,820 sq ft” loft I hit in my September 10, price discovery was long + hard for 144 West 27 Street loft with 2 kitchens, 3 dishwashers sold at (only) $922/ft. On the other hand, you have the July 11 sale of the “3,007 sq ft” loft at Altair 18 at $1,330/ft that I hit in my July 12, a tale of 2 lofts: did (removable) decor add $126/ft to value of one 32 West 18 Street loft?.

Did I mention (today) that comping is hard?

© Sandy Mattingly 2012

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Sep. 16, 2012 - on its best days, Manhattan Loft Guy meets this (lofty!) standard of criticism

this is not really a diversion from lofts (sorry if this disturbs your Sunday routine)
But it will be short .... Polymath Andrew Sullivan gets the hat tip for flagging a piece about written criticism that I take to heart. The Sully money quote:

Darryl Campell names "the four classical elements of literary criticism," which are: "Reaction. Summary. Aesthetic and historical appraisal." He argues the first of these, the brute fact of liking a book or not, is inescapably what drives the reviewer

In my case, I think the brutal fact that usually drives my Manhattan loft “reviews” is either that I love the loft or that it fits or fractures a historical context. Not to go spraining my arm patting my snobby back or anything ….

Note to self … try to live up to this (loft-y!) notion of “criticism” more fully and more often.

Shameless self promotion: did I mention (today) that you can follow me on Twitter if you note the intentional misspelling to stay within Twitter limits? @ManhattnLoftGuy

© Sandy Mattingly 2012

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Sep. 15, 2012 - efficient market for primitive loft space at 395 Broadway

5th post = Manhattan Loft Guy fave
395 Broadway is now, officially, a Manhattan Loft Guy favorite building. You will see (below) that I have hit finished and unfinished lofts here, lofts with views and light and lofts without, lofts that sold quickly, and (several) lofts that traded around $1,000/ft. The “1,200 sq ft” Manhattan loft #3C at 395 Broadway fits the pattern of an unfinished loft with little light or views that sold quickly around $1,000/ft. Efficient Market fans of the world, rejoice!

I am not the only one for whom this building, and this loft, is a fave: loft #3C came to market on March 28 at $1.225mm, found a contract by May 9 after a perfunctory negotiation, and closed on August 8 at $1,207,500 (that $500 suggests a tough negotiation, but c’mon: the thing took a maximum of 6 weeks, with a tiny discount of 1.4%). That happy result (for the seller, of course) was in spite of the challenging floor plan with lofted sleep area, the broker babble, and the pictures scream 1978 (or thereabouts; what year do the kitchen appliances, tile, and backsplash look like to you?), and there’s only one bath:

today's current buyer will want to renovate, …. you have the ability to put in a second full bath. The floors need refinishing, but are solid oak.

Note that there is no mention of light or views, despite the “huge windows and ultra high 12 1/2' ceilings”; not surprising, considering the building across Walker Street to the north is much taller than these 3rd floor  windows.

let me count the ways …
As I said, Manhattan Loft Guy has taken readers to this busy bit of Broadway at the northern edge of Tribeca before:

Click on any of these posts and you will find a Manhattan loft sale that meets one or more of these criteria: an unfinished loft with little light or views that sold quickly around $1,000/ft.

Just look at the last six clearing prices from the building page on StreetEasy, going back to December 23, 2010:

    • $1,207,500
    • $1,275,000
    • $1,365,000
    • $1,225,000
    • $1,150,000
    • $1,201,000

That embarrassing $1,365,00 aside (it was both mint-y and well lighted, with a “beautiful and bright city skyline view”; a pair of plusses that none of the other 395 Broadway lofts have had when they sold), that is an average of $1,211,700 for the other five and if you do the Olympic drop-high-AND-low score thing you have four lofts trading within $74,000 of each other, or 6%. A range that can always be offered as mere market noise....

© Sandy Mattingly 2012

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Sep. 14, 2012 - 166 Bank Street loft with 30 year-old river views got for $1,188/ft in far West Village

go figure: Jersey views not as valuable, even with a river
Continuing a sequence of view posts, today’s edition features a loft in pretty primitive condition (like yesterday’s) with major bragging about views (like yesterday’s). Unlike yesterday’s September 13, quintessential artist loft sells for $1,525/ft at 38 Crosby Street, the “2,200 sq ft” Manhattan loft #6A at 166 Bank Street in the far West Village boasted “unobstructed Hudson River views, stunning sunsets and tranquil visions of boats sailing by” (not to mention, views of New Jersey) as opposed to iconic New York views (Empire State & Woolworth Buildings, Manhattan & Brooklyn Bridges, and more). Unlike yesterday’s $1,525/ft for views+renovation-opportunity, loft #6A sold its unobstructed-views+renovation-opportunity for a more modest $1,189/ft.

Partly, its the location (Bank Street ain’t in Soho), but partly is that some views are better (judged as more valuable in the marketplace) than others. Not that you should sneeze at Hudson River views, or New Jersey.

Like yesterday’s loft, you could just move in, but anyone paying upwards of $2.5mm won’t move in to a space that needs as much work to achieve ‘modern’ as these two lofts. In this case, the loft is

a treasure ... presented for the first time in over 30 years, offering ... the perfect canvas to create their dream home or just move right in!

But the marketing is not very enthusiastic about that “just move right in” option, as only one of the four listing photos is of the loft interior, the kitchen is babbled as “spacious” instead of chef’s, gourmet, or another positive modifier, and the bathrooms are “recently renovated” but not pictured. Every serious buyer assumes that this is a total gut job, subject to being pleasantly surprised if some of the new bathroom work can be retained.

consistency is a virtue, right?
The #6A sellers were trying to push the envelope, starting at $2.995mm on October 5, 2011 before finding the contract (after two price drops) on May 12 at $2.615mm that closed on August 8. That stubborn envelope was comfortable for the January 18 sale of the “2,200 sq ft” #4B at $2.6mm. If anything, #4B has a better floor plan than #6A, with a corner with 4 west windows and 5 north windows; while perhaps less dated than the 30-year-treasure in #6A, there’s not a lot of bragging in the #4B broker babble, and that red tiled fireplace-surround-plus-storage has the (temporary) benefit of matching the furniture but is a very weird and very loud design element. I can’t imagine it survives a renovation.

These two lofts were head-to-head until #4B found its contract on December 1 (while #6A was still holding at $2.995mm), but in the end #6A took longer to get $15,000 more than #4B got.

The good news for efficient market fans is that small spread, well within the range of ‘noise’, with #6A at $1,189/ft and #4B at $1,182/ft/ft.

The last sale in the building before #4B was #3B on September 16, 2010. That loft was marketed as “2,400 sq ft” but has what looks to me like exactly the same footprint as the “2,200 sq ft” #4B; I am going to call it “2,200 sq ft”, so the $2.45mm closing price comes to a soft $1,114/ft. That is a 6% discount to #4B 16 months later, which might be some market noise or some market appreciation or some added value for being one floor higher. Not a tragedy for efficient market fans, either way.

Skipping the penthouse sales and one very chilly nuclear winter sale, the last interesting sale in the building before #3B was #3A on September 17, 2007, 4 months short of The Peak in the overall Manhattan residential real estate market. Loft #3A has the same footprint as #6A, the same Hudson River views (from a lower vantage point) but some indication it was in better condition (“cook’s kitchen”!). Efficient market fans are going to love the clearing price of $2.675mm, or $1,216/ft, a mere 2% premium to #6A last month.

See what I mean about #6A having been trying to push the envelope?

deconstructing loft floor plans
I think the #4B better floor plan and the #6A floor plan are both fascinating. You see that oddly shaped second bedroom in #6A. I don’t know these folks or their family structure, but they lived in this treasure for 30 years. My guess is that second bedroom was not there when they built the master. It just cuts into the living room too much for me the place was set up that way. In fact, I would also guess that the “cozy den/office” near the entrance was probably the first place they planted a kid (in the dark, but that’s a common planting plan), then added the “second” bedroom when they needed more bed space. Just guessing, remember, but don’t those walls look weird?

In #4B, my guess is that it started as a One Bed Wonder, with a huge master bedroom taking up that whole northeast corner, probably with two doors. When the need arose for a second bedroom, they carved it out of the corner, resulting in that weird set of angles, collection of doors, and a second bedroom without a closet..

Lofts are fun. I am not entirely confident I am right in my guesswork, but I have seen a great many lofts that have floor plans and room arrays that can only be understood as incremental responses to changing family space needs. Over 30 years, there could be a lot of changes. What started out as an extravagant amount of space for one or two adults, gets sliced and pulled to accommodate more (small) bodies.

That’s my theory; what’s yours?

© Sandy Mattingly 2012


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Sep. 13, 2012 - quintessential artist loft sells for $1,525/ft at 38 Crosby Street

oh that light!
A day after hitting an architect designed Greenwich Village loft that sold under $1,000/ft (September 12, “noted architect” will be disappointed that “incredible” 200 Mercer Street loft went for $939/ft), here is a “2,000 sq ft” Soho “quintessential artist’s loft” that is so quintessential that it has a “bedroom/studio”, a single bathroom, and a glass brick wall. You know the punchline if you glanced at the headline: $1,525/ft. If you glanced at the sub-head, you can guess that that loft-y price for a primitive Manhattan loft may be due to the light from what is, in Soho, a high floor. In fact, I wonder if this loft, the Manhattan loft #9R at 38 Crosby Street (in the condop also known as 476 Broadway) might have the best view of any loft in Soho.

You can’t see the views on StreetEasy (why is that??), but here is the relevant broker babble from SE:

Quintessential artist's loft facing N/S/E and 14 windows! Great space with extraordinary light from three exposures and just under 12 foot ceilings, keyed elevator and two entrances, one of which opens up directly into the apartment. Iconic views of the Empire State, Woolworth and Police buildings, new Freedom Tower and Manhattan & Brooklyn bridges! Approx 2000 SF, with flexible floor plan, lending itself to various configurations. It can easily convert to three bedrooms and two or more bathrooms.

The floor plan is available on StreetEasy, revealing a classic Long-and-Narrow footprint that is unusual for having windows only one narrow wall (east, in this case, bringing the old Police HQ and the bridges) and windows on both long walls, 7 to the north (bringing the Empire State Building) and 2 to the south (hello, Woolworth Building and [no longer named] Freedom Tower). Iconic icons to have out your windows!

Obviously, the sub-text to the babble is that you will upgrade after buying. That’s the beauty of the “flexible floor plan, lending itself to various configurations”, and the implication of “[q]uintessential artist's loft”. And, of course, a “2,000 sq ft” loft with a single bathroom will have some plumbing added.

Now that I have teased you about the views, go to the Town site and watch the large format photo gallery scroll by. (Waiting ….)

Those views are distracting, even in the interior photos. By the way, those interior photos show walls, ceilings and floor in pretty good shape. But they show the kitchen only obliquely, and the bathroom not at all. Remember: this is a “[q]uintessential artist's loft”; those plumbing rooms are going to be replaced, and another bathroom added. Without those windows, the open views, and the iconic icons, thsi loft would not sell anywhere near $1,525/ft.

Crosby Street is da bomb
Compare this loft at $1,525/ft to the WOW loft up the street that I hit in my August 30, WOW, indeed: “wow factor” loft at 66 Crosby Street has late bidding war to close up 60% over 2006, which cleared at $1,554/ft. That one had terrific bones and drool-worthy classic loft elements, though no view better than a (very nice, but still) Soho street view. This one has not much that is classic, but oh those views!

Or, compare this loft to the prewar faker that sold at $1,572/ft  in a full service condo that I hit just last week in my September 7, loft at 65 West 13 Street disguised as prewar apartment sells at $1,572/ft. That one was very well dressed (not to my liking, but still), in a building that commands that price range. This building does not generally command this range.

a 200 foot long building
As StreetEasy tells you, this loft building is also known as 476 Broadway. If you can access Property Shark, you will see the building dimensions given as 50 x 200 feet, but the accompanying building photos show that the Broadway facade is much wider than the Crosby Street facade, 5 double windows to 3.

Most of the past recent sales have been on the Broadway side, facing west, with these sales nowhere near #9R at $1,525/ft:

#8M Oct 20, 2010 $1,108/ft
#11F Sept 28, 2010 $1,267/ft
#6F Aug 12, 2010 $1,064/ft
#2F June 25, 2010 $503/ft (!)
#8F June 24, 2010 $1,128/ft

The last sale on the Crosby Street side was a Peak sale that should have nearly as good views as #9R, as it was just one floor down. Loft #8R was babbled as a total build-out (read between the lines, you’ll see) with beautiful views. With a December 2007 contract and a February 2008 closing, #8R was about as Peak as Peak can be. Yet it sold then at (only) $2.675mm, compared to #9R at 14% higher.

Oh. Those. Views.

© Sandy Mattingly 2012

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Sep. 12, 2012 - "noted architect" will be disappointed that "incredible" 200 Mercer Street loft went for $939/ft

he’s not the only one
Start with “an amazing combination of genuine loft style and a top of the line renovation using only the best of modern materials” (“[d]esigned by [a] noted architect”). Add in 11 foot ceilings, classic brick, and a 24 foot wide Long-and-Narrow footprint with 3 windows on one long wall and plumbing in multiple places along the other long wall. Give it a Mercer Street address, and you might expect a sales price in the $1,200/ft range. In the case of the “2,400 sq ft” Manhattan loft #3F at 200 Mercer Street, you’d be wrong, as this history ending in a sale at $939/ft shows (omitting one 2-week hiatus; correcting dates as in the Corcoran system):

Sept 26, 2011 new to market $2.75mm
Oct 29   $2.695mm
Mar 22, 2012   $2.495mm
May 29 contract  
Aug 16 sold $2.253mm

That’s 8 months to contract at a price 18% off the original ask, 10% off the last ask. And $939/ft. At that dollar-per-foot value, loft #3F only barely exceeded the value of the slightly larger loft I hit on Monday (September 10, price discovery was long + hard for 144 West 27 Street loft with 2 kitchens, 3 dishwashers) that was really two lofts in need of integration. And it more handily beat the awkward layout (low mezzanine) loft that was marketed with an alternative floor plan that I hit in my June 20, more than 18 months to contract for 377 West 11 Street loft, though it did not beat a more recent sale in that building, also with an awkward layout and mezzanine, that was marketed without much bragging, let alone “designed by noted architect” bragging (that would be the “2,400 sq ft” Manhattan loft #3B at 377 West 11 Street, which sold on August 7 for $2,328,000, a transaction I have not gotten around to blogging about separately).

In other words, there is not a lot to brag about in the price at which loft #3F at 200 Mercer Street traded, noted architect bragging notwithstanding.

Loft #3F is better viewed in the large format photos available only on the Corcoran site. The photos (especially of the kitchen; love that kitchen) support the enthusiastic babble, with its noted architect and other proper proper names and materials. So $939/ft??

did purple people eat the value?
You smart folks already know that this is not the most charming block of Mercer Street; indeed, that it is on the wrong side of Houston Street to have charm. (If you click View On Google on the StreetEasy listing page you will see tennis courts on top of NYU’s Coles Sports Center directly across Mercer Street from this loft.

And you smart people already know that the NYU athletic center won’t survive in that form (or at that [low] height), if NYU gets approval for it plans to develop those super-blocks that run from Houston to Third Streets, directly across from 200 Mercer Street. Here is the New York Times on April 10 about negotiations between NYU and Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, which notes:

A so-called zipper-shape dormitory and academic building, on top of the land where N.Y.U. now has its athletic center, would be set farther back so neighbors across Mercer Street would have more light.

In the rendering on Curbed April 11, that ”zipper building” is the set of green-topped roofs of various heights in the lower right corner of the NYU property (that is Houston Street at the bottom of the rendering, if you’d like help getting oriented). So the residents of 200 Mercer Street are facing the prospect of major construction directly across the street, even if that planned construction is part of a project the university calls “NYU2031”. On the one hand, those are plans (plans that are moving along the approval process), and plans that will not be fully realized (if at all) until 2031. On the other hand, that is a lot of construction for a long period of time, some of which is directly across the street.

however …
The data are such that you cannot prove that the recent controversy about NYU super block development has recently impacted values at 200 Mercer Street. It is possible that #3F would have sold for more without the NYU2031 plans across the street, but the presence of Coles and the long-existing environment have not been kind to values here. In fact, #3F at $939/ft is (for the time being) a building record for price per foot.

I don’t have sizes for all the lofts that have sold at 2oo Mercer Street, but the “2,350 sq ft” loft #2D seems to be the prior record-holder. That “recently renovated” “true jewel” loft almost certainly suffered in the nuclear winter of 2009, coming out 3 weeks before the Lehman bankruptcy at $3.2mm and holding on through 4 price drops before getting a November contract at $2.15mm that (finally!) closed on April 9, 2011.

I suppose you could say that the NYU2031 plans have been lurking over the Village for many years, but that just makes it harder to find data in support of an impact. That loft #2D also sold in 2006, at $2.1mm, probably a record for the building even then.

Net-net … loft #3F is a beautifully finished loft in a wonderfully convenient location that failed to get close to $1,000/ft. The building has historically been a drag on values, but this one surprises me. Purple people eaters, or no.

© Sandy Mattingly 2012


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Sep. 11, 2012 - still, a sad day, remarkably so

so just a bunch of links
Nice and short piece (especially nice, for being so short) in The Broadsheet Daily yesterday, heading a list of events that memorialize September 11, 2001. I hope he won’t mind me quoting the paragraph, in full:

How do you observe an eleventh anniversary? The etiquette guides say that steel is the gift of choice for the first year of a relationship's second decade. If that's true, we've been gifted in more ways than one. All around us, steel spires soar to the empyrean, both triumphal and melancholy. And, as we move further into the second ten years of our relationship with the post-9/11 world, our collective hearts have been steeled. "Always think of it, never speak of it," was the motto of French patriot Leon Gambetta in coping with the severing of part of his country in the 1870s. For those of us who were severed from part of ourselves 4,018 mornings ago, this is a time of much reflection and few words. But perhaps an anniversary marked by the first number that cannot be counted on two hands is significant in another way: Maybe this is the year when we begin to let go.

Then there’s this startling photo (to me, at least) taken from space that day: souls drifting (together) into the heavens.

I am grateful that the media orgy from last year’s 10 Year Anniversary has not been repeated, but I am in the same place as I was then:

I thought this year would be different. That I would be able to read stories and look at video and images from ten years ago, and even to (finally) write something about my own experience of That Day (on That Day, and since).

But I am not, and this year turns out to be no different, except that it is much worse, with the saturation of stories and images on all media all the time. Exponentially more ‘coverage’; exponentially more heads talking.

The links to past Manhattan Loft Guy posts on this date, from last year’s post:

2010: same day, another year (from a mother who lost a daughter and a not-yet grand-daughter) [fixed the link 9.13]

2009: 8 years, still fresh  (one of my least favorite people channels one of my most favorite)

2008: September 11, again (New York names, as of 2008)

2007: (see 2005)

2006: September 11 / 343 firefighters (“How many cities in this country even have 343 firefighters??”)

and 2006: September 11 / read the names (all the names, as of 2006; “It turns out that I am most definitely not able to post much of anything today, and still unable to read (let alone watch) what passes for media coverage of the fifth anniversary.” and “As this is a blog about Manhattan real estate, please reflect as you read the names on the many places around the globe these New Yorkers came from (or their families came from in an earlier generation). A terribly sad, terribly potent cross-section of the global village that is Manhattan.”)

2005: (how did I not write that day? probably as in my first 2006 post, above)

Peace out.

Peace out, indeed.

© Sandy Mattingly 2012


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Sep. 10, 2012 - price discovery was long + hard for 144 West 27 Street loft with 2 kitchens, 3 dishwashers

what was the plan here?
The folks who just sold the “2,850 sq ft” Manhattan loft #4F at 144 West 27 Street seem to have bought it as two lofts in 1998 (for $662,000) yet never got around to (fully) combining them (a single door between the two does not count when there is no real integration and separate kitchens). I assume the new owners will play around with this floor plan, probably to take down the entire wall between the two units (including that kitchen) and (if they can live with interior sleeping areas for the second and third “bedroom”) using the entry into the eastern stub. Not many people really need an “attached guest apartment that can be used separately” these days, or want to pay for it. (When you paid $662,000 that was one set of economics; at $2.6mm you probably want to maximize the utility of the entire space.)

But the real story here is that it took these sellers 16 months (not counting one month-long hiatus) to discover that $2.995mm and $2.795mm were not market-ready prices:

Sept 1, 2010 new to market $2.995mm
Nov 18   $2.795mm
Jan 3, 2012 hiatus  
Feb 7 back on market  
Feb 8   $2.695mm
June 21 contract  
Aug 23 sold $2.6mm

You’d think that sitting at $2.795mm for an extended period (13+ months!) would have smoked out any interest near $2.6mm in 2011. But you’d be wrong (I’d be wrong).

If you looked at the Master List of Manhattan Lofts Sold Since November 2008 that I flogged yesterday here (September 9, about that Master List of downtown Manhattan loft sales ...) and for two days on The Twitter (are you there? follow @ManhattnLoftGuy), you’d be able to count 46 downtown Manhattan lofts of more than “2,200 sq ft” that sold in 2011 at or below $2.7mm. Yes, there was an active buyer pool for Manhattan lofts that could easily fit 3 bedrooms under $2.7mm in 2011. That pool ignored loft #4F for a long time.

a challenging layout
Even with “2,850 sq ft” and what had been to separate residences, loft #4F has a difficult footprint. The floor plan has a single east window in the NE corner, but the north wall of windows is the main exposure, a good 50 feet from the back wall of the loft. You could keep a smaller bedroom in that NE corner (at about 8 x 15 feet, a real bedroom), but most loft buyers would want to retain as much of that long north wall for public space as possible. There’s great volume to be appreciated with 11 foot ceilings and (once that wall between the units comes down) 30 feet of windows in the public area.

For additional sleeping areas beyond two bedrooms, you are left with that back (dark) wall. You could easily have two “interior bedrooms” back there, but with “2,850 sq ft” it will be disappointing to some not to have more than two real bedrooms.

we have some building data (of course)
I mentioned 3 sales in the building in my March 2, 2011, since that $458/ft loft sale at 144 West 27 Street ..., but none of those sales quite fit the parameters of 2,200+ sq ft under $2.7mm that sold in 2011. Since those sales, the “3,000 sq ft” loft #8R sold in a private transaction on April 16 for $2.5mm, and the “2,700 sq ft” #2R sold on March 31, 2011 for $2.25mm. That one would have been tough competition for #4F, as it was not only “triple mint” but “nothing but perfect”, with a much better (corner) floor plan, and offered under $2.5mm from October 2010 until finding a contract in January 2011.

It is hard to see how #4F could do better than ##2R in that head-to-head competition, and it did not. After #2R was off the board, however, the stubborn persistent #4F sellers held at $2.695mm until their contract at $2.6mm on June 21.

I assume everybody who looked at #4F knew the #2R history and clearing price. Yet #4F got 16% more than #2R once #4F was the only loft available in the building.

© Sandy Mattingly 2012

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Sep. 9, 2012 - about that Master List of downtown Manhattan loft sales ...

if you need a diversion from Manhattan lofts today, look elsewhere (anywhere else)

I think this is the second week in a row, but perhaps only the second time in the last few months, that the  Master List of Manhattan Lofts Sold Since November 2008 has been up to date. That Google Docs spreadsheet is probably the single bit of Manhattan Loft Guy content that I link to most often, with my Miller Riffing about outdoor space a distant second. I realize that I (hardly) ever link to the origin post for the Master List, the August 23, 2009 post that explained what I was compiling and how, and the (important!) limits to the data, as well as apologized (by inference) for its typically Manhattan Loft Guy primitive nature: master list of Manhattan loft closings since November.

At that long ago date, the spreadsheet had 229 resales of downtown Manhattan lofts with recorded prices between $500,000 and $5,000,000, and 164 new development sales in the same geography and dollar range. As of September 7 deed filings, the spreadsheet now has more than 2,000 resales and new development sales approaching 1,000, with past sales data on many of the resales. The major improvements to the Master List since it was rolled out

  • a field on the resale page for Neighborhood, for those who like to scan (or sort) by geography
  • if a resale cleared above the last asking price, the sales price is highlighted in green
  • if a resale sold at the last asking price, the asking price is highlighted in yellow

If you’ve looked at the Master List recently, you’d have noticed that

  • there were 51 downtown Manhattan loft resales in August (so far, more deeds will be filed over the next few weeks), 63 in July (some may still be filed), and 72 in June
  • those figures compare to 65 loft resales in August 2011, 62 in July 2011, and 81 in June 2011
  • in those last 3 months, 10 loft resales were above the last asking price, and 15 were at that price
  • compared to 14 above the last asking price and 16 at that price in August, July and June, 2011

Want to know how many loft resales went to contact within 30 days of coming to market? Scroll down Column J on Sheet1.

In fact, play and scroll to your heart’s content … knock yourself out!

Of course there is so much more that I could do with this data. Note to sel ... Note to self ... Note to self!

© 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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