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Manhattan Loft Guy

Sep. 26, 2013 - 28 Laight Street 1-day loft sale looks like a whisper listing

can't be real, perhaps it is one of those
We can agree, I assume, that the public record behind the recent sale of the "2,705 sq ft" Manhattan loft #2D at 28 Laight Street in the Cobblestone Lofts cannot reflect an actual public marketing. StreetEasy has it as new to market on July 2 and in contract by July 3 (our listing system agrees) and it is simply not possible for a buyer to learn of a listing on a Tuesday and sign a contract the next day. (Rather, it is simply impossible to believe that a seller would offer a loft on Tuesday to the general public for $x and then take it off the market within 24 hours unless the buyer was willing to pay a significant premium to the asking price, and even in this era of impossibly quick lawyers, it is impossible to believe that an impossibly quick buyer’s attorney would complete due diligence and contract review in that period.) In this (purported) case, the deal was done at exactly the purported asking price.

Nope. Looks to me like one of those ‘whisper listings’ marketed to only a limited number of buyers the New York Times was talking about as recently as this past Sunday. For Your Ears Only was the big story in the Real Estate section, describing as increasingly common in a broader milieu a practice that seemed to have been restricted to the oh-so-tony uptown world in which only the right buyer with the right bank account and the right great grandparents could buy your property anyway (so why advertise to schlubs?).

I read the piece, of course, but was not going to discuss it here. It is (still) a pretty infrequent situation and it is (still) difficult for me to appreciate exactly which sellers this strategy benefits, but it’s a free country! This first example makes half sense to me (it is just not very common), but the rest seems not so … plenty:

Plenty of circumstances arise in which it makes sense to keep a listing out of the limelight, ranging from celebrities who don’t want to read about their property transactions in the tabloids to sellers who would rather not upset tenants prematurely. Some sellers hope to avoid the hassle involved in getting a property in shape to show. Others don’t want a lot of people traipsing through.

The fact that So-and-So’s property is on the market (and, possibly, in the limelight) can be dealt with in other ways than avoiding a public listing. (Take the Oscars off the shelf, the glowing reviews off the wall, and put the family photos away, for starters.) Maybe there are tenants an owner really has to worry about being upset by setting up a regular appointment schedule for public showings, but some tenants will also be upset by having The One Buyer come by 3 or 4 times anyway. (Leases generally specify some terms on which an owner can access the tenant’s space for resale purposes, usually only at the end of the lease; that will govern whether the property is listed or not.)

The theory is that the current market is so deprived of inventory that a “seller” who really did not want “the hassle” of leaving the unit show-ready every darn morning, and especially every Sunday afternoon, can just leave the dishes in the sink and the kids’ rooms a mess for the few times that The Special Buyer comes to visit. I suppose The Special Buyer finds it easy to understand that the apartment is shown ‘lived in’ out of a special accommodation to The Special Buyer, as opposed to regular buyers in a public sale who will (really?) take points off because the apartment has not been made show-ready for them. I suppose. And sellers who “don’t want a lot of people traipsing through” can instruct their agent to make that happen, in lots of ways. (“Showings only Tuesday to Thursday, noon to 2 PM”; or restricting showings to buyers who have been financially vetted by the seller’s agent, for example.)

I get that there are benefits to sellers. An informed seller can do what she wants, of course, but I don’t see that the benefits outweigh the risk that she won’t get the best price, however. It is one thing to whisper to buyers about a commodity apartment, in a large building in which a person familiar with the building will know the unit without seeing it; that deal can be made confidently by a buyer, so long as the buyer has the opportunity to see it to confirm it meets expectations before signing.

But lofts are rarely commodities, even in buildings with 30+ units.

you have to whisper pretty loudly to get 20% in 14 months
In the case of loft #2D, any carping amounts to mere quibbling, given that the folks who just sold on August 29 at $4.58mm had purchased only on June 4, 2012 for $3.8mm. Unless that 2012 purchase was demonstrably a below market value, it certainly appears as though they got a good deal on resale. (It wasn’t: I hit a then-high-for-the-building sale at $1,167/ft in my April 28, 2012, what has changed at Cobblestone Lofts, 28 Laight Street, since 2005?; two months later the recent sellers at $1,693/ft bought #2D at $1,405/ft.)

As recently as December, The Market thought that this footprint in this same condition on (what passes at this northwest Tribeca location as) a much higher floor was worth $4.1mm with a $300,000 parking space. (That buyer could have bought #6D without the parking space for $3.8mm but paid another $300,000 to park downstairs.) So, yes, $4.58mm for #2D on a whisper seems like it ‘cost’ the sellers nothing.

And it seems as though an educated buyer would know from #6D what #2D would look and feel like before even seeing it.

but then, why bother with photos?
I bet that most whisper listings don’t have to get camera ready, but this one was. (After all, there are listing photos, with furnishings different from when #2D was marketed in 2012.) Leading to the conclusion that these folks were prepared to do a full public marketing campaign until someone made their day.

I don’t think that “asking” price of $4.39mm has any credibility, given that the deal must already have been struck at $4.58mm when the inter-tubes first got wind of this, but the $4.58mm is (as noted above) a demonstrably superior result based on #6D in December and the same #2D in June 2012. Maybe they were going to come out at $4.39mm, maybe not. Clearly, the $4.58mm hit their sweet spot.

Could they have gotten more in a truly public sale? Of course it is possible. But it is quite rational for owners at $3.8mm since June 2012 to believe that a quick sale at $4.58mm was ‘worth it’. The listing photos prove they were committed to selling, so this is likely not one scenario scoped out in the Times (the very famous real estate person who sold her condo after being approached by a buyer agent, and who insisted on all her non-price terms, as well).

Nicely played, folks; nicely played.

I look forward to the next sale in the building to put this super value in fully public context.

© Sandy Mattingly 2013


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Sep. 17, 2013 - 56 Warren Street loft renovation added more value than it cost


known unknowns abound

I am not unusual in always being interested in the impact that renovation has on value; most people who try to follow a residential real estate niche share that interest. I flatter my niche, perhaps, in thinking that this is a much more complicated topic with Manhattan lofts than it is with more (shudder) cookie cutter apartments or even (gasp) tract homes. (Not go all emo on ya.) While this angle is interesting, it is always frustrating to not know the input, i.e., the renovation cost, that resulted in a certain output, i.e., post-renovation value.


In the case of the “2,200 sq ft” Manhattan loft #3E at 56 Warren Street I can see the big-picture changes between the condition when the loft just sold for $3.58mm and when it was purchased by the recent sellers shortly before The Peak in the overall Manhattan residential real estate market at $1.935mm, but I can’t do more than guess at the cost of those changes. I am highly confident, though, that the recent sellers did not spend anywhere near the $1.645mm increase in value after buying at $1.935mm.

Let’s start with dates and dollars, then move to broker babble and photos. The recent sellers bought in the single most active market in Manhattan residential real estate history, closing just a few months shy of the quarter in which the highest prices were recorded, though it took their sellers a while to figure out that dynamic environment:

Sept 21, 2006

new to market


Oct 16



Jan 12, 2007



April 17



May 24



Sept 26




May 1, 2013

new to market


May 17



Aug 13



The starting point is easily described: “
consider this raw and design a major home [?] that suits your needs”, with some additional photos and a floor plan surviving on the Corcoran website beyond what is on StreetEasy. The loft is a classic Long-and-Narrow with windows front and back, plus 4 presumably dark windows on an air shaft on the long wall opposite the public stairwell. Back in the day, it featured 2 bathrooms and a washer dryer, with a working artist studio at the north end.


babbling that goes on, and on ...

The ending point is easily summarized (the 2007 buyers did, in fact, design a “major home”), but it was just sold with the longest bit of broker babble I believe I have ever seen. Distilled to focus on the prose that describes the difference, Then and Now, we see:

Chef’s Kitchen ... abundant cabinetry; an enormous Island with a 4’x 9’ honed Calcutta Gold Marble slab countertop; a Bertazzoni five-burner stove; a Jenn-Air microwave/vent; and integrated Bosch dishwasher and French door refrigerator. A solid 10’ folding door leads to ... Den/Media Room with custom built-in bookcases, a large flat-screen TV, and a marble tiled Second Bathroom. … Master Bedroom ... features built-in cabinetry with a flat-screen TV... en-suite Master Bath flaunts a magnificent mirrored arch over a Caesarstone wall hung vanity, honed Statuary Marble tiles, a large walk-in rain shower with mosaic glass tiles, a separate 6’ Zuma soaking tub for two, heated towel racks, Grohe fixtures and a Duravit commode. The Second Bedroom features a unique large sleeping loft, akin to a gigantic bunk bed, and again custom built-ins .... [with] a vast walk in closet that could be converted to a home office or third full bathroom. [and a] Third (windowed) Bedroom, more custom built-in closets, and a large laundry closet with side-by-side Bosch washer and dryer.


... central AC, ... ample custom bookcases and closets throughout, Caesarstone window sills, Lutron light dimmers, dual front/rear intercoms, and Bluetooth sound system in living and media rooms

(I am pretty sure that the “hot water radiator heating, solid wood maple flooring, exposed brick walls” were in the Then version, as well as in the Now version.)

Net-net, a total renovation to a floor plan with 3 bedrooms where the former artist studio had been and the new plumbing in the places the former (primitive) plumbing had been. The proper proper names and materials indicate a high-end renovation (as does the recent sale price, of course), but the potential range of expense for these materials, these brands, and labor for a quality job is very large. But even if it was $400/ft in cost, that gets the 2007 buyers only to $2.815mm, compared to the $3.58mm at which they just sold.

Whatever they spent on renovating, they also benefited from the current market conditions. I just don’t think the difference in coop values at the bottom of Tribeca between September 2007 and August 2013 is anywhere near a 27% market appreciation. Nicely played, folks; nicely played.

we’ve been here before

If you have a better memory for old Manhattan Loft Guy posts than I do, you will remember that I hit the loft below this one when it was offered as a “raw and original condition” project, essentially identical to the condition of #3E at the same time. In my June 8, 2007, Tribeca buy & build opportunity under $800/ft at 56 Warren, my information about initial pricing was off, as #2E came out (only slightly too low) at $1.895mm and found a contract in a month, closing at $1.975mm only two days after #3E closed at $1.935mm.

By my lights, that 2% spread reflects a delightfully efficient market for primitive lofts in extreme southeast Tribeca in mid-2007, with that $40,000 “premium” in favor of #2E being either simple market noise, or a reflection of a frothy market that improved marginally between the #3E contract on May 24 and the #2E contract on July 18. Take your pick; I don’t care.

If there is a smarty-pants that remembered that 2007 post (from back in the day while I still discussed active listings), those pants will surely remember that I hit the last market sale in the building before the recent #3E sale. Those pants may even remember that my April 27, 2012 post, truly "one of a kind" bathroom sells for $2.35mm, loft at 56 Warren Street comes with it, about the sale of loft #5E featured a cameo by #3E, which had (then) recently not sold. That’s a fun post, but for present purposes the short story is that loft was a difficult comp because the design was so idiosyncratic, but it sold for $2.35mm in the year after our model,

Loft #3E[,] did not sell at $2.695mm or $2.895mm when offered over about 12 weeks last Summer, despite being “[n]ewly renovated ... with an eye to every detail” and having custom this and custom that.

if only we had a matched set of raw-to-prime sales (oh wait…)

In more concrete market data, I noted in that post 17 months ago that our 2007-raw-comp was also in play, following its make-over:

It appears as though loft #2E is about to sell (it just went into contract) off an asking price of $2.85mm, also with a 3BR+ floor plan much more similar to #3E than to #5E. That closing price will tell us how The Market values a built-out 3BR+ floor plan over the open-as-open-can-be #5E. (Note to Self …) It looks like a premium in the range of 15%.

In fact, #2E closed at $2.7mm on July 17, 2012, making the spread between “a built-out 3BR+ floor plan over the open-as-open-can-be #5E” in 2012 14.89%. (I was pretty close!)

The 2007 buyers of raw #2E built that loft out with a slightly different layout than the new #3E (#2E floor plan, here), with the differences in bedroom and bathroom arrangement being immaterial. I didn’t see #2E, and that babble was neither as long or as detailed as the Homeric #3E babble, but it did claim for #2E last year an “Elegant Luxury Renovation”.

The known unknowns in comparing #2E last year and #3E this year include the how-luxury-is-luxury? angle, with the properly naming proper proper names and materials in the #3E babble suggesting that the upstairs loft had a more expensive renovation. I have to believe that The Market thought so (d’oh! $2.7mm v. $3.58mm), as not much of the spread between them should be due to the 13 months between their respective contracts. And by “not much” I mean that The Market for like-to-like is not up 32% in 13 months.

I really hope the recent #3E sellers spent a lot more on their primitive loft in 2007 than the 2012 #2E sellers did on their primitive loft in 2007. And I wish I knew what the respective budgets were. The $720,000 


[oops ... thx reader KTG for the math catch] market preference for #3E speaks pretty loudly.

© Sandy Mattingly 2013


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Sep. 13, 2013 - 77 White Street loft lacks "bedrooms" because elevator is in the wrong place


sold for many dollars, nonetheless

Yesterday, it was dark bedrooms being switched (September 12, flipping the dark bedrooms earns 100 Hudson Street loft 20% premium over (near) Peak); today it is a funky floor plan for a Long-and-Narrow Tribeca loft that is (probably) funky because the later-added elevator takes up the wrong space in the front of the unit. Not that The Market cared (too) much, as the “2,285 sq ft” Manhattan loft on the second floor at 77 White Street just sold for $3.3mm ($1,444/ft) and took only 6 weeks to find a contract. There must be many reasons for that. They have to do with a quality renovation, classic elements such as high ceilings, beams, columns and bricks (a ton of bricks, it seems), and windows.

proper babbling in a surprisingly sunny place

I love this kind of detailed broker babble, with its sprinkling of seemingly appropriate adverbs throughout:

newly renovated and stunning ... magnificently designed ... dramatic wall of 11 windows, featuring sun drenched West and bright North exposures, 11 foot beamed ceilings, exposed brick and wide plank Brazilian cherry flooring. The chef's kitchen is beautifully appointed with Viking Professional Series appliances, including a 150-bottle capacity wine refrigerator, marble counter top, deep farmhouse sink and an illuminated polished concrete island. ... custom fabricated metal and glass floating wall separating the bedrooms. ... master bedroom has a massive walk-in closet and en-suite windowed bath, with heated slate stone flooring, dual Duravit sinks, and flush mounted rain shower. The second bedroom features its own en-suite bath with heated floors, Zuma soaking tub, marble vanity and ample storage. The ultra cool guest bath has to be seen with its walls and ceiling of silver and gun metal back-painted glass. … cast iron columns, in-ceiling speakers throughout, dual zone central air and heat controlled via Nest intelligent thermostat, museum quality lighting including custom fixtures, a vented W/D....

You youngsters will have to use The Google or The Wiki to understand the strength of the reference to the Mudd Club in the rest of the babble for folks of my generation. Cool stuff. (If the walls really could talk, the words would likely be slurred and sniffled from cocaine over use.)

When was the last time you saw a second floor unit that was not on a park or river claim “sun drenched West” exposure? This one does (obviously) and the listing photos (pix #2 and #8) only hint at the reason. While much of east Tribeca can feel dark and cramped (especially this close to the municipal and court buildings further east), this small condo benefits, ironically, from having a large residential tower just across Cortlandt Alley. As you can easily see if you click through from StreetEasy through to Google Street View and then toggle a bit to the right, that tall neighbor is set back from both Cortlandt Alley (where those trees in the left windows in pic #2 are planted) and from White Street. That is the 24-story cookie cutter condo, 376 Broadway. A shorter building on that loft would likely have been built (had likely been built) to each sidewalk, cutting out virtually all of the west light from the second floor across Cortlandt Alley.

The other exposure also benefits from a streetscape quirk: Cortlandt Alley zigs a little to the east on the north side of White Street, which is why the north-facing windows in the living room in pic #2 have that very cool view straight up Cortlandt Alley, as well as having direct “views” of the buildings across White on either side of Cortlandt Alley. Such are the many and varied charms of this loft. Did I hint of an issue about the “bedrooms”?

darn that elevator

This building has to be 100+ years old, and almost certainly built without an elevator. When time came to adopt this then-new technology, the undoubtedly mercantile activity in the building dictated the simplest possible placement: in a corner, right at the sidewalk. It probably even opened directly onto the sidewalk, back in the day. This was an inexpensive way to bring elevator service to the building without cutting into usable space much, though it proves to have awkward the consequence for the current residents in that you can’t get bedrooms with windows without using the north end of the loft for bedrooms, where all the best light is. There’d be a number of alternative layouts with “real” bedrooms if the elevator were on the middle of the long wall, or even if it had been placed away from the corner on the south wall.

With this challenge, the alternative chosen with the 2nd floor renovation was to put the two (interior) bedrooms at the elevator (south) end but on the dark (east) wall, but to ameliorate the no-windows problem by giving the bedrooms that “custom fabricated metal and glass floating wall”, with curtains as in listing pix #4-5. If the workmanship and materials are good enough, I believe that these glass walls can be as sound-insulated as a sheetrocked wall but the curtains used do not look like the blackout variety to me, so some light is going to bleed through unless that feature is upgraded.

what the heck happened upstairs??

The 3rd floor sold on November 4, 2010 at … (wait for it) … $1,762,500, with that telltale $500 suffix hinting at trouble in marketing and negotiating a deal. That one was also enthusiastically babbled, with a “new[]” and “beautiful[]” renovation, but it was set up with a single “bedroom” near the elevator and a single bath (floor plan, here) though the space can obviously accommodate additional (interior) rooms and additional plumbing (two alternatives are provided with the current floor plan).

I hit that sale in my November 17, 2010, gossiping about a Mudd Club beat down, as 77 White Street loft sells off 3% in 4 years, complaining that the babble use of “newly renovated” was a bit of a stretch and noting (sympathetically?) the almost epicly bad timing (and bad pricing) that (eventually; very eventually) resulted in that sale in November 2010. (You youngsters can also get some Mudd Club history in that post.)

Obviously, that layout needed adjustment for many buyers; my snark then included saying this about the layout:

The kind of thing you’d sketch out on a napkin in a bar after going to see the loft for the first time in 2005 or 2006. Especially if you are a single guy or a couple planning on remaining a duo (for my money, nothing quite says bachelor pad like a “2,250 sq ft” loft with one bathroom and a single bedroom measuring 14.6 x 27 ft).

I will leave you with pondering the 2010 3rd floor sale (at $1,762,500!!) and the 2nd floor last month at $3.3mm. That’s a lot to ponder, so that is all.

© Sandy Mattingly 2013

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Sep. 12, 2013 - flipping the dark bedrooms earns 100 Hudson Street loft 20% premium over (near) Peak


who gets the light?

The “1,025 sq ft” Manhattan loft #3A at 100 Hudson Street that just sold for $1.535mm with some “customized elements” looks a lot like the loft when it sold in June 2008 for $1.283mm with very enthusiastic broker babbling about the kitchen and the (single) bath. Having seen them, I can’t imagine those customized elements (“a beautiful exposed brick wall[,] a custom wood panel wall with steel accents [and b]uilt-in bookcases ”) account for a  significant piece of the $252,000  premium (20%), though they are … nice. (The  brick is obviously behind the bookcases on the left in the main listing photo, with the steel-accented wood panel wall on the right.)


Yet I also have my doubts about the value added by the big layout change between 2008 and 2013: in the old floor plan the little bedroom was in the northwest corner, using only 2 of the 3 windows that the new “master suite” in the new floor plan uses; while the old master was in the southeast corner, with its own built-ins, where the (smaller) new second bedroom uses the 2 air shaft windows. (Notice in listing pic #4 that the kid’s curtains are closed? There’s very little light coming in through those windows.)

In the old layout, the grown-up bedroom was in the dark quiet corner; in the new layout, the grown-ups get the (true) west light and the noise that may bleed in from Hudson Street 25 or so feet below. I wonder if the bedrooms were switched as the main point of the renovation, which then also added those “customized elements”, or if the 2008-buyers-turned-2013-sellers decided first on a renovation that would expose the brick and generally jazz the place up and only then also decided to switch the large and small (dark and light) bedrooms. Clearly, the 2013 market likes the current layout and finishes more than the 2008 liked the other layout and finishes.

the missing babble

I mentioned that the kitchen and bath in loft #3A were enthusiastically babbled in 2008. This enthusiastically:

Kitchen features Viking, SubZero, and Bosch Stainless Steel Appliances and a Built-in Marvel Wine Refrigerator; Pietro Cardosa Countertop and a lovely Glass Tile Backsplash. The Bathroom boasts Glass Tile Walls, Limestone Countertop and Floors as well as a Lacava Sink and Chrome Shower Fixtures

What’s odd is that the same agents who came up with that litany of proper proper names and materials in 2008 left the kitchen and bath out of the 2013 babble completely. Indeed, while they used a photo of the bath in the 2013 marketing (listing photo #6, obviously) they did not picture the kitchen. This is mere quibbling about a marketing campaign that took 17 days to get a contract at a near-record for the building (see below) and at a 20% premium to the last time this kitchen-bath combo sold, but quibbling offering informed opinion as Manhattan Loft Guy is what they pay me the big bucks for. (Oh, wait ….)

not quite a new (temporary?) building record

Only one loft to date at 100 Hudson Street has sold for more than the $1,488/ft that #3A just got. The much smaller, 1-bedroom only, “815 sq ft” loft #4C sold 7 months ago at $1,521/ft. That one was said to be “stunning” and gut renovated, though probably not nicer than #3A.

The prior record holder was the slightly larger, not as well finished loft #8E, which sold 17 months ago at $1,296/ft with much better light and views. These two loft sales seem rationally related in value, with #8E getting the benefit of light and views from the (real) 12 windows (floor plan, here) 60 feet higher than the 6 useful windows in #3A, and with #3A having brag-worthy kitchen and bath, those customized elements, and the boost of the stronger current market. (Don’t make me do the plus-minus adjustments between them, just accept the net-net $192/ft [15%] spread in favor of #3A. Please.)

not fitting a logical pattern

Note to self (and to readers) … I have been talking a bit about a second-bedroom-premium, here (in my September 3, jaw-dropping views provoke jaw-dropping price for 261 Broadway loft, and in my September 10, 133 West 28 Street loft sale shows the squeeze in 2-bedroom buyers) and in the Twitterverse (with @Tribeca Citizen). Note that the 100 Hudson Street sales in 2013 do not fit that theory, with the 1-bedroom-now-and-forever #4C beating the 2-bedroom #3A.

You see that sub-head above about building records? It’s possible that the $1,521/ft for #8E may be bested soon. If so, the new record-holder will sit on the same footprint as #3A, but is already optimized as a 1-bedroom-now-and-forever (without ruining the “stunning architect-designed” look and layout, with a “state-of-the-art chef's kitchen with built-in bar [that] is open to the entertaining space”, among many other “superb luxury finishes”. That will be another sale that contradicts the theory that there is a second-bedroom-premium, at least in this corner of prime Tribeca.

© Sandy Mattingly 2013


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Sep. 6, 2013 - funky loft at 55 White Street with funky history sells quickly in misleading fashion


not all of Tribeca is in a frenzy

I am not saying that the full recent listing history of the “2,221 sq ft” triplex Manhattan loft #1C at 55 White Street is intentionally misleading, but the explicit part of the StreetEasy history shows a quick sale that was not, in fact, very quick. Yes, the loft came (back) to market on April 3 at $2.899mm and found a contract 3 weeks later, closing at a small discount ($2.825mm) on July 1. Others may draw their own arbitrary lines about how to handle periods in which a loft, actively offered for sale for some time, goes off the market for “a while”, then returns to active marketing. The arbitrary limit I use in my Master List of Downtown Loft Sales is 90 days, so this sale appears there (as on StreetEasy) as a 3-weeks-to-contract sale. But in this case the reality is that the owners had been trying to sell for a long time, so this is more an early Chicken Little sale than a data point that says everything in Tribeca will move quickly, so buy now!!!!!

The full history is … full:

Mar 21, 2012

new to market


May 7



Sept 10



Jan 2, 2013



April 3

back on market


April 24



July 1



That hiatus as hallmarks of being a strategic re-set: same brokerage, same agents, same listing photos, with broker babble that (while rewritten) emphasizes the same elements. In other words, it does not appear as though the sellers made a decision to not sell, and then were persuaded to return to market; rather, my interpretation as an outsider is that they made a strategic retreat at New Year’s, always intending to return to an active Seller’s Market, perhaps intentionally waiting long enough to trick new-to-market buyers that the listing was fresh.

If that was their intention: nicely played, Sir and Madam; nicely played.

Having not sold in a very active 2012 Seller’s Market while asking $2.85mm for nearly 4 months following nearly 4 months at $2.995mm, the market snapped up the loft at $2.825mm this past April. That’s an insignificant 2.5% “discount” from last ask in 2012 and less than 6% off the May into September 2012 ask. If $2.825mm was perceived as fair market value in 2012, they should have gotten it. Again: nicely played, Sir and Madam; nicely played.

highly functional loft with some serious challenges

I had buyers who looked at every available Tribeca 3-bedroom loft around $3mm during the entire long marketing period for loft #1C, and they will confirm that this segment was an especially strong Seller’s Market. (Note to self … blog one day [soon] about their search and its happy conclusion.) Unlike much of the buyer pool focused on Tribeca, this location east of Church Street was a positive rather than a negative. Like much of the 3-bedroom buyer pool focused on Tribeca, they were quite pleased with the layout as a true 3-bedroom, with great separation between the 3 bedrooms in the floor plan. They were so intrigued by loft #1C that they visited twice, but (like much of the 3-bedroom buyer pool focused on Tribeca, I suspect) there two deal-breakers, one of which is obvious in a between-the-lines sort of way from the marketing materials, and one of which is not.

First, the good news: the loft is beautifully appointed, certainly “both functional and architecturally distinctive” as claimed in the broker babble, with the classic loft elements of (very) high ceilings in the main room (emphasized by those tall bookshelves in the living room) and Corinthian columns, with the kitchen presenting the choice of being opened or closed (behind those 4 white wood-framed panels in the second listing photo). Apart from the jarring carpet downstairs and wallcovering in that master bath photo, the loft is very close to move-in condition for much of the 3-bedroom buyer pool focused on Tribeca.

But the should-be-obvious deal breaker for them (and, likely, for much of the 3-bedroom buyer pool focused on Tribeca) is on the other side of those very tall windows: nearby buildings and very little light. A click on the Google Maps view of the location confirms that the single very tall east window in the living room “looks” across the very dark alley Franklin Place, from just above sidewalk level of course. Worse, all those south windows on all 3 levels face the back of the nearby building on Franklin Street, providing no view and little light. Any buyer who looks at a lot of listing photos would guess this from the listing photos of the master bedroom and family room, both with blinds strategically drawn.

The less obvious deal breaker for my buyers may not have been a problem for shorter people in the 3-bedroom buyer pool focused on Tribeca: in order to access that upper level you climb those lovely stairs at the east end of the living room, then walk around the mezzanine office, then walk down that lovely open catwalk. While the master suite (pictured in pic #4) has a low-for-lofts ceiling, that space is manageable for most buyers; the problem is that transition around the office, as hinted in the main listing photo: even I felt I had to duck while crossing in front of (or standing in) the office, and anyone taller than 6’2” might brush the ceiling if they had a healthy head of hair. (That covered my guy, who would feel cramped every time he went to or from the master suite; i.e., multiple times of each day if he lived here.) Deal, broken.

The response of the 2012 buyer pool was like that of my buyers: this was an intriguing option in the anemic inventory of true 3-bedroom buyer lofts in Tribeca, but … even in the $2.8s, no deal.

By Spring of 2013, however, with inventory no less anemic, the loft quickly found a willing buyer at a price point demonstrably unavailable not very long before. Go figure.

living to fight another day, from a stronger position
Again, only the sellers and their sales team know what their thinking was in taking 91 days off the market to start 2013, but it certainly looks to me as a tactical decision that, in retrospect, worked like a charm. I dubbed that decisionmaking context the fight-or-flight conundrum way back in my November 14, 2010, flight or fight? the disappointed seller’s conundrum, 30 East 21 Street and 205 West 19 Street lofts edition. (Six other Manhattan Loft Guy posts tagged “fight or flight” are collected here.)

If sellers tired of beating their heads against the 2012 market wall and took flight from that market to reset in 2013, it worked. It surely looks to me as though they actively chose to take flight rathern to continue to flight. Whatever … nicely played, Sir and Madam; nicely played.

Manhattan Loft Guy still [hearts] Christopher Gray, and nyc-architecture.com
If you are a fan of the Streetscapes feature in the New York Times by Christopher Gray, or if you have taken any time to pick your head up while walking in Tribeca, you probably know that Gray loves this building. Way way back in my November 9, 2008, 55 White Street #4C closed, finally, around $1,000/ft, I linked to his column about this block, in which he called 55 White Street "the most architecturally imposing work on the block”, ironically in a column about Soho. (Note that that post was about a loft sale 3 floor directly above loft #1C, the babbling for which I appreciated “(I particularly like the helpful specificity of ‘very good light but NO views’)”. I wonder if there is still good light up there, what with

I hit this building only one other time, in my October 18, 2010, another late bidding war, as 55 White Street loft sells at 104% of (reduced) ask, in which I found still more internet love for this beautiful building. Click through there for the links from nyc-architecture.com, “which is in danger of becoming a Manhattan Loft Guy fave” and from the Landmarks Preservation Commission report on this building from 1988.

I will close with repeating what I said in 2010 about this less-than-prime Tribeca block:

Yes, this is part of the historic district “Tribeca East”, but this eastern fringe block (between Broadway and Church) is among the gritttiest Tribeca blocks extant and feels like a world away from the prime blocks of Tribeca further west.

© Sandy Mattingly 2013


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Sep. 5, 2013 - 90 Franklin Street loft history more like a moving picture than a market snapshot


1 loft, 13 years of activity and inactivity

If you wanted a Big Picture review of the overall Manhattan residential real estate market over a bunch of market cycles, you’d do well to play with The Miller’s latest 3 Cents Worth chart for Curbed (Manhattan Puts Best [Square] Foot Forward), in which he looks at Total Square Footage sold in Manhattan as a market measure going way back to 1989, delineating 8 different market periods. If you wanted a set of pictures from the vantage point of a single Tribeca loft in 5 of those periods, you’d be interested in the full history of the “1,895 sq ft” Manhattan loft #2N at 90 Franklin Street (Franklin Tower), one of the 2000-era new developments that were sold in the Dot-Com Boom (in The Miller’s taxonomy of eras).


Buying from the sponsor in the Dot-Com Boom ($815,000), that original owner tried to sell before that Boom ended (failed from $1.495mm to $1.195mm), then succeeded in selling in the Bubble (at $1.575mm; the Bubble was earlier than you think); the second owner re-sold in the era of New Dev to someone who tried to sell twice in the Rebound (from $2.695mm to $2.15mm) then finally sold in the current era, No Supply, at $2.45mm. That’s a long trip down memory lane, with many signposts.

Hence, one very long table, in this case supplemented with the beginning dates of the relevant eras, under The Miller’s taxonomy (the dates not on StreetEasy are taken from our listing system):

2Q 1999

Dot-Com Boom


Mar 22, 2000

sponsor sale


Oct 22, 2001

new to market


May 13, 2002



May 24



May 28



Aug 12



4Q 2002



Nov 6



May 6, 2003

off the market


July 19, 2004

new to market


Aug 18



Oct 1




1Q 2006

New Dev


Jan 28, 2007

new to market


Mar 23



Aug 8



Nov 27

new to market


Jan 3, 2008



Feb 14

change firms


Mar 10



June 17

off the market


4Q 2008



June 16, 2010

new to market


Dec 10



Mar 16, 2011

back on market


April 26



Sept 15

off the market


4Q 2011

No Supply


Mar 20, 2013

new to market


April 12



June 13



Get your Three Cents Worth from The Miller as to why he cut the market this time by total square footage sold rather than by price. I can’t be as precise as The Miller (or as well-supported by data) but if you were to use the eras I often use (based on prices and sales activity), regular readers of Manhattan Loft Guy will know that I generally talk about The Froth (2006-07), The Peak (1Q 2008), the post-Lehman Nuclear Winter (September 15, 2008 through 2Q 2009), and the Recovery (3Q 2009 …) as being conventional market eras based on activity and values.

Looking at the #2N history, you see that Franklin Tower as a new development was part of the Dot-Com Boom, which that original purchaser tried to take advantage of for a year and a half, without success. But look at the difference between 2004 and 2002-3: sold at $1.575mm; unsold down to $1.195mm … quite a turn in The Market. That first owner enjoyed a gain of 93% in 4+ years, but it was a lot of work.

That second owner anticipated The Peak, got a quick contract and closed just 5 months pre-Peak. That was a 32% gain in 3 years.

The third owner is the recent seller, gaining (only!) 18% in 6 years, also having put a great deal of effort into it. The attempt to quickly flip into The Peak to gain as much as 30% didn’t work; that series of unsuccessful prices in the 7 months right around The Peak is a tantalizing suggestion that the recent sale at $2.45mm compares very well to what might have been available at The Peak. And the unsuccessful efforts in 2010 and (especially) 2011 show how much stronger the current market is than those markets.

I doubt very much if anyone likes staring at market histories like this as much as I do, but if you are inclined, this long history is very rich. (Look, for example, of how soon after each sale the owners tried to cash out.)

enough with those numbers … to the loft!

The loft is nearly square, with a floor plan that is less than ideal (nearly) square for having just one exposure.  As a result of the single exposure, layout options are limited, though the 2-bedroom, 2-bath layout is efficient in a (sigh) blandly cookie-cutter, uptown “apartment kind of way.  Extend the kitchen to the north wall and this floor plan would look just like one in a new condo in the 80s, on either side of town.

If the listing descriptions can be believed, the loft sounds as though it is in the same condition as when the sponsor sold it (state of the art at the turn of the century), though the floors seems to have been changed from maple to walnut at some point. Original Boffi kitchen;though perhaps the master bath has been upgarded (always Waterworks, though the newer babble has more detail, including “custom Carrabianco marble and white lacquer vanity, marble subway tile, . .. Phillipe Starck for Duravit commode“.

The babble claims some lemonade from the single exposure on the second floor: “western light and classic city views”. There’s no picture supporting the classic city view claim, but the loft sits exactly where 6th Avenue and Church Street split, so it is a double-wide avenue, angling toward a view (possibly) that includes the Tribeca Grand and the American Thread Company. With low buildings across that double avenue, there’s probably as much western light as you are going to get anywhere on a second floor that does not sit on a park or the Hudson.

more numbers

You can fill out the already pretty detailed market review from the long #2N history by looking at recent past sales in the building. Apart from the monster full floor sale this year, the last sales here were a year ago.  The “2,633 sq ft” #7S sold on August 16, 2012 for $3.3mm ($1,253/ft) and the “1,895 sq ft”  #5N sold on August 1, 2012 at $2mm ($1,055/ft). At the 5th floor, this line gets 3 north windows in the living room, yet a year ago, #5N asked $2.5mm and $2.395mm before settling at $2mm , 22% less than #2N two months ago. (Someone might prefer the finishes of #2N to those of #5N, but that is one heck of a spread from a busy market in 2012 to the current [very] busy market.)

broker babble that makes me laugh

I also doubt very much if anyone gets as much enjoyment out of broker babble absurdities as I do. A rough sum of the periods in which loft #2N has been actively offered for sale (counting to the closings ) reveals that the loft has been offered for sale since being sold by the sponsor 13 years ago at least 6 different times for a total of more than 4 years (51 months).  Granted, that’s only about a third of the time, but  you wouldn’t see me saying the loft was “rarely available”.

© Sandy Mattingly 2013


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Sep. 3, 2013 - jaw-dropping views provoke jaw-dropping price for 261 Broadway loft


raising the roof

Yes, the “1,140 sq ft” Manhattan loft #12B at 261 Broadway has the jaw-dropping views claimed in the broker babble (especially if you like to give traffic reports to friends interested in driving over the Brooklyn Bridge), but the fact that it just sold at a 19% premium to its prior sale in 2007 and at a premium to the previous dollar-per-foot record high sales makes my jaw ache even more. The loft came out on April 18 at $1.595mm and found the contract by May 9 that closed (you have to click around on StreetEasy, dammit) at $1.705mm on July 17. That’s 3 weeks to contract 7% over the ask, and $1,496/ft, but wait, there’s more!

The loft just sold in the same condition as when it sold for $1.435mm on May 17, 2007 (no pix survive, but that old listing description makes that clear). You’ve already been told that that $210,000 gain is a 19% premium; that was a pre-Peak sale, of course, but only by about 8 months. That prior sale of the same loft at $1,259/ft was the previous dollar-per-foot record high sale. Other than loft #12B sales, the previous dollar-per-foot record high sale in the building was the lovely mini-loft next door 7 months ago. The “754 sq ft” #12A was sold for $840,000 ($1,114/ft) on January 28 with high-end finishes and essentially the same views as next door, here babbled as “cinematic city, park and Brooklyn Bridge views” (with the same landmarks and the same opportunity to do traffic reports).

There is some premium for being a 2-bedroom rather than a 1-bedroom, I assume. But not 34%.

finishes + layout + view = $$$

The broker babble is very enthusiastic, beyond the views, with proper proper names and materials detailed:

Windowed chef's kitchen includes stainless steel breakfast bar dining; Wolf range, Sub-Zero refrigerator, Bosch dishwasher, 56-bottle wine refrigeration, Vermont soapstone sink and natural granite stone counters. Master bedroom has wall of custom closet cabinetry. Master bath has Orgami deep soaking tub and custom vanity. Second bedroom has custom closet. ...high ceilings, gallery-size walls for art; solid oak walnut stain flooring; large walk-in closet and powder room.

The floor plan sits in a nearly perfect nearly square footprint, with 3 of the “7 over-sized windows [that] provide dazzling light from morning til evening” in the public space, the “master bedroom” with corner exposures south and east, and the last of those 7 windows in the second bedroom. Only a quibbler would note the limitations on the floor plan: there is only a bath and a half, both rather far from the “master bedroom”. (As far as far can be in a “1,140 sq ft” space.)

In other words, given the scale, this layout is pretty close to perfect. With the better-than-nice finishes and the all day light east and south, the price probably reflects the lack of 2-bedroom true loft inventory in Tribeca.

There’s no doorman at 261 Broadway, but this isn't a no-frills coop: there’s a live-in super, a laundry room, and a lovely common roof deck. Hence, monthly maintenance beyond that of its no-frills Tribeca neighbors (for #12B: $2,149/mo, or $1.88/ft).

the small neighbor next door is jealous

Loft #12A is another well-appointed loft, at “754 sq ft” just 386 sq ft smaller than #12B and (proportionately) lacking a half bath and second bedroom compared to its larger neighbor. The main exposure is, again, east, over City Hall and toward the Brooklyn Bridge, with the secondary exposure being north rather than south. I read the photos and babble as enthusiastic as those of #12B:

sun-filled loft features soaring ceilings, hardwood floors, over-sized windows and built in book cases and cabinetry topped with honed granite in the spacious living/dining area. ... clever design ... allow[s] for flexibility with pocket doors and windows which open and close off spaces. The custom chefs kitchen with stainless steel and Carrera marble countertops is nicely tucked off the dining area. The bedroom ... has a wall of custom built drawers and cabinets and the well-proportioned bathroom has linen closet, polished concrete floor and hand-painted English wallpaper. Fully outfitted closets and built-ins throughout….

Same building, same year, same view, similar condition, but smaller by one bedroom and a half bath. Loft #12A didn’t take long (32 days to contract), but it only got $1,114/ft. As tough as the 2-bedroom market is in Tribeca, there are not many classic buildings that even have 1-bedrooms, so I am a bit surprised the spread is so large between #12A and #12B. (I discussed other “A” line sales at 261 Broadway in my April 19, 5 years later, small loft at 261 Broadway sells (angels rejoice); #12A is definitely the cream of the A-line crop to date.) Note to self … consider a post about the 1-bedroom loft market in downtown Manhattan ….

© Sandy Mattingly 2013


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Aug. 30, 2013 - truly a fast sale, as 60 Beach Street loft cashes out 24 days after listing


beats the heck out of The Peak, kinda sorta

Some fascinating things about the recent sale of the “2,569 sq ft” Manhattan loft #3B at 60 Beach Street just to the left of the Holland Tunnel spillways in Tribeca: as in the headline, the whole darn thing took 24 days (to market on July 13, in contract a week later, and closed on August 6; the deed was even filed relatively quickly, within 3 weeks); as in the sub-head, this 2013 clearing price crushed the last sale of the same loft (and by “crushed” I mean 23% higher than the deal reached when it was offered at The Peak of the overall Manhattan residential real estate market); finally, the New York Post has it in yesterday’s “Just Sold!” feature in the Thursday Real Estate section of the paper (“Just Sold!”, indeed), beating the heck out of the often stale “Residential Sales Around The Region” that The Old Grey Lady “reports” on Sundays. Where to begin….

Of course it sold at the ask ($4.295mm); at this trajectory, the wonder is that it did not go over.

this one is a classic

60 Beach has a variety of floor plans, some duplex or triplex, but #3B is straightforward: this floor plan is your basic Long-and-Narrow footprint, luxuriously wide at 35 feet, with plumbing on both sides in the middle, 3 bedrooms across the back, and windows only front and back.

The ceilings are tall (not specified, alas, but perhaps 12 feet) but the window photos all have the sheers closed. The windows are pretty high off the floor, which is an interesting look. Assume there’s not much to see out there, but that gap from the floor to the window sill would tend to keep your gaze inward. High-end finishes, of course:

walnut floors throughout. ... Valcucine kitchen … features white lacquer and walnut cabinetry with white glass counter tops, Sub Zero and Miele appliances, a fully vented hood and a large double width island offering tons of storage space. The master bath pampers with a soaking tub, separate shower and double sink teak vanity with calacatta gold marble finishes.

some very sincere flattery here

I will get to the prior sale in a bit, but for now I will link to the prior listing to show how much the 2013 marketing resembles the earlier effort. Same brokerage firm (mine!) but different agents, using pretty much the same text and exactly the same photos. I hate when that happens, especially when none of the pictures can be seen in large format.

There’s no excuse for this, but the explanation has to do with the recent seller (and original owner) apparently never lived there. After paying $3.5mm for the loft on April 7, 2009, the LLC immediately put it out for rent (apparently for two years), then rented it again for another two years. (The StreetEasy record is here; our listing system shows that the first rent was $15,500/mo, raised to $18,500/mo in 2011. Though through a different firm, the rental listings used the same text [sheesh] but different photos, showing the space empty.)

sponsor not as lucky

This development took a while to get off the ground, so to speak. The sponsor bought the building in 2005 for $26mm, then missed The Peak of the overall Manhattan residential real estate market by not being ready to close until 2009. (Unlike the two very well-timed projects I hit this week in my August 27, did 48 Bond Street loft developer leave money on the table in 2008?, and my August 29, quick flip of 52 Thomas Street loft is breathtakingly irrational.) Here’s the earlier sale history of loft #3B:

Sept 27, 2007

new to market


June 11, 2008



April 7, 2009




I said up top, that the recent sales price bested the Peak price because the loft was, in fact, marketed through The Peak in the overall market and, in fact, got the contract signed just past The Peak, though it did not close for another 10 months. (New development pricing is not necessarily indicative of [true] market value, in my opinion [as the title of my August 27 post hints], though it is certainly arm’s length, offered by someone who does that sort of thing for a living.) This developer was not able to bring to market and sell the bulk of the building until 2010, so #3B was one of the earliest sales. (That StreetEasy building page has the story, here.)

I don’t know the details of the new development sales process, but a reader commented on my only post to date about sales here (my July 30, 2012, 60 Beach Street gut loft project gores for gold, gets world record) that there were some rent-stabilized tenants in place when the developer bought the building in 2005, one of whom is involved in the story about the loft sold in that post. Whatever the reasons, only 9 units were sold in 2009 (out of 20, 25, or 26, depending on which source you use for the total number of units), and another 5 in 2010. Whether a related party sale, a lender workout, or some other complicated transaction with a long and secret story, the sponsor entity sold 10 units in a bulk transaction as recently as February 2012 for the most curiously low figure of $5mm.

That hints at a debacle, to me. I can’t imagine that the timing and pricing of the sponsor sales were consistent with the sponsor’s original plans, but I was not on that committee….

comping is …

Of course it is difficult to comp sales in a building with so much secret stuff going on, but by any measure the #3B sale at $4.295mm is impressive. That’s $1,672/ft and (obviously) 23% more than the LLC paid to buy in 2009. The last sale in the building was some sort of private sale, the “2,793 sq ft” #3C next door for the funny number $4,042,819, or (only) $1,447/ft. Those sellers did, however, make out like bandits, as they were a very late sponsor deal when they bought in, paying (only!) $2,687,290 in February 2012. A debacle, indeed.

The last public sale was the sale of the “2,557 sq ft” #4D that I hit in the July 30, 2012 post, above. That was sold as a to-be-gutted project at $3.05mm, a healthy premium to ask, with the complicated back story contributed by Reader Magic. There’s still a big spread between that value of $1,193/ft (plus unknown renovation budget) and #3B at $1,671/ft.

One final 3 bedroom Tribeca comp, thrown out without further comment: that (ridiculous?) flipped $1,983/ft that I hit yesterday (August 29, quick flip of 52 Thomas Street loft is breathtakingly irrational).

One final data point, repeated: loft #3B was on the market less than a week, and was sold and closed less than 4 weeks after coming to market. Damn, that’s fast!

patience is appreciated

If you’ve gotten here, well, you’ve gotten here, despite the blog loading really slowly these days. I apologize for that frustration and I very much appreciate you sticking with it. One more straw on my back that may (eventually, maybe) lead me to port over to WordPress or something of that sort. Not soon, however, so pray with me that the techies can clean up this problem, soon.

© Sandy Mattingly 2013



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Aug. 29, 2013 - quick flip of 52 Thomas Street loft is breathtakingly irrational


can’t be much to say

Sometimes things make so little sense that all one can do is note the facts and move on. I really wish I had something sensible to say about the recent sales history of the “1,967 sq ft” Manhattan loft #4D at 52 Thomas Street, but …. [crickets]. I can talk about the loft a bit (I it saw with potential buyers last year), below, but here are some numbers that have to speak for themselves: the LLC that bought it for $3mm on December 26 just turned around and sold it for $3.9mm on June 21. That’s a 30% gain in just under 6 months, or about $34,615 gained for each week they owned the place.

Use your New York Lottery Guy voice, please: NINE HUNdred THOUsand DOLLars. In. Six. Months (Less expenses, but give me a break!)

modern prewar, if that’s what you like

Loft #4D has a wonderfully efficient nearly square floor plan that, with south and east exposures, easily fits 3 bedrooms. (In this case, I mean ‘efficient’ as a compliment, unlike the efficient-like-a-cookie-cutter floor plan I sneered at in my August 27, did 48 Bond Street loft developer leave money on the table in 2008?.) A newly converted to residential condominium project in 2007, the sponsor had the opportunity with large floor plates to put plumbing stacks where they made the most sense, in this case putting the kitchen in the middle of the loft and logically spacing 3 bathrooms plus the washer-dryer. (Unlike the unfortunate plumbing distribution in the 1980s vintage Noho loft I hit in my August 26, with too many walls, 20 Bond Street loft sells (too low?) before gut renovation.)

The strangest thing about the floor plan? There are only 3 closets. The most subtle cool thing? That sliver window in the southeast corner of the living room. Pretty sure the developer added that window to permit a clean look down the sidewalk on Church Street. (The 4th listing photo was not taken from the sliver, but from one of the other south windows, alas.)

The finishes were high end then, and have held up well. The kitchen features “anigre-wood cabinetry, balsatina stone countertops, and Viking, Sub-Zerio and Miele appliances”, the floors are Brazilian hardwood and there are Zebrawood doors. I am going to guess the ceilings on this floor are not much higher than 10 feet, and are dropped to permit recessed lighting. It’s that kind of thing that turned my buyers off to the space last year, as they preferred a more classicly loft loft.

comping is …?

Yes, comping is difficult, especially in a new-ish building in which there have been few resales. When loft #4D came to market on November 15, there had been only one resale (StreetEasy building page, here). The “1,753 sq ft” loft #3A was sold by the original buyers on May 19, 2011 at $2.2mm, or $1,255/ft. The sponsor also (finally) unloaded the penthouses in 2011 and 2010, which were the last sales in the building since the middle of 2008. Before this year, the highest recorded sales price in the building was the sponsor sale of Penthouse D in June 2011 at $3.25mm, or $1,341/ft before adjusting for the two terraces.

One challenge for the original #4D owner in 2012 was to apply those sponsor sales of penthouse space in 2010-11 and the #3A sale in 2011 to the new (bullish!) market conditions in late 2012. Starting at $3.25mm on November 15 ($1,652/ft, or a 32% premium to #3A) seemed pretty bullish, no?

Another challenge for the original #4D owner was that he had been renting the place out, and the tenant did not make it easy to show (“SHOW TIMES: Monday thru Friday 10:00 to 1:30 w/ 24 hour notice”). This kind of restriction has been known to reduce value by cutting down the buyer pool. That seller felt as though he had enough of a buyer pool, as he struck a deal within a month at the $3mm that closed on December 26. Hard to say (at that time) that he left any money on the table, going from For Sale to cashed out in 6 weeks, getting $1,525/ft (21% higher than #3A 18 months earlier).

the impossible part remains … impossible (though the neighbors are happy)

I will never know why whoever is behind the LLC that bought #4D for $3mm on December 26 decided to sell so quickly. (They did move in, as the furniture is different in the 2012 and 2013 listing photos.) Eight million stories in the naked city, of course, and something changed. But the impossible thing for me is that they decided to ask $3.95mm as of May 3, and struck a deal within 10 days to sell at $3.9mm. In this day and age, that buyer had to know that the same loft in the same condition had sold in December at $3mm.

That’s $1,983/ft. A 58% premium to $3A two years earlier.

I suspect that any other original owner who had ever considered moving is crunching the numbers, and salivating. Personally, I need to see at least one more sale at this range to believe that this free market sale accurately reflects market value.

You have to go back 250+ downtown Manhattan loft sales on the Master List to find 10 lofts that sold at higher dollar-per-prices, and at least several of them should be adjusted down to account for outdoor space. (None of them is on a commercial stretch of Church Street.) This building has not (previously) been considered on of THE top places to live in Tribeca.

c’mon, StreetEasy, you gotta keep up

I’d love to blame Zillow for this, but that would be unfair. I’ve said before that StreetEasy seems to have had a great deal of trouble these days matching deed records to listings. In most of those cases, the result is a “no listing associated with this sale” form of misinformation. In the case of #4D, however, the June 21 deed at $3.9mm is linked by StreetEasy to the 2012 listing at $3.25mm, to which StreetEasy also (and correctly) links the $3mm deed from December 26. (You get the whole story on each of the 2012 and 2013 listings, but still ….)

Sloppy, sloppy, sloppy.

© Sandy Mattingly 2013



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Aug. 21, 2013 - original condition loft at 1 Hudson Street goes well above ask


location, location, location

Stop me if you've heard this before: a Manhattan loft that needs pretty much everything sails through the market above ask. That's the story with the "2,000 sq ft" Manhattan loft on the 8th floor at 1 Hudson Street, which came out on March 8 at $2.198mm, was in contract by April 19, and sold on July 10 at $2.43mm, despite being "in original condition". In other words, a certain and total gut job, in a no-frills coop just sold for $1,215/ft.


Oh wait ... that sounds like the other lofts I hit this week that went quickly above ask (August 19, 152 Wooster Street loft shows that character matters, competition drives premium, and August 20, 463 Greenwich Street loft is a fascinating project, sells at $1,442/ft), although they both had elements that might be retained in a renovation. The one thing that this 8th floor loft at the corner of Hudson and Chambers has that the 2nd floor loft in north Soho and the 4th floor loft in northwest Tribeca do not have is a wide open view.

Of course the three most important things about real estate are (in order) 1. location, 2. location, and 3. location. This axiom applies to the 8th floor at 1 Hudson but not strictly for its just-off-prime Tribeca placement at this very busy intersection; the axiom applies most because that corner sits opposite Bogardus Triangle and 1. Bogardus Triangle is a large undeveloped plot just west of the wide Varick Street, and 2. lofts at 1 Hudson Street have 12 windows facing the triangle and the open northeast sky behind it (the fourth listing photo does not do it justice), with another window facing southeast, with the Woolworth Building view in the second listing photo. (The 8th floor [open] floor plan is here.)

Google Maps gives a good sense of how wide (how far from other buildings) this prospect is. This view is not going anywhere (unless someone builds on Bogardus Triangle ;-), unlike the light from the parking lot windows at 152 Wooster or the slice of river at 463 Greenwich endangered by Ponte Family Interests. As the broker babble for the 8th floor puts it, “21 windows ... wrap the loft and offer deep south,east, and west views of Tribeca's present and future landmarks as well as charming street scenes”. (i assume the “future landmarks” is a clever reference to 56 Leonard.)

if only there were a recent nearby sale to use as a comp...

Sometimes comping is hard in a 10-unit loft building. Bear with me as I meander through some hard data.

In this case, there are full-floor sales of a 4th floor from June 2010 at $2.2mm (a 10% premium to ask) that was in decent but not very brag-worthy condition, and 6th and 10th floor sales in August 2008 at $2,437,500 and $2,525,000 that should reflect a close-to-Peak market in better condition than the 4th floor, and a not-very-useful-as-comp true penthouse sale in January 2013. The 10th floor listing surviving on StreetEasy lacks pictures and a floor plan, but fortunately I had visited the loft when it was for sale and blogged about the sale in my August 8, 2008, what a difference $675k makes / 1 Hudson Street closes. Indeed, I even hit it as a new listing, back when I used to do such things, in my October 10, 2007, top of the bottom of Hudson is new / 1 Hudson St has top price.

I quoted myself in that post when the 10th floor sold, parsing the broker babble and considering past building sales:

As I said in that October post,

The BHS listing description is a fascinating thing to deconstruct. While describing the loft as "magnificent", the only bragging is about the building (beautiful and historically significant), the ceilings (13 ft, with skylights), the windows (original, wood-framed), light, and views.

Not a word about the kitchen or the condition of the (only) 1.5 baths. No close-up of the kitchen in any of the (only) 3 interior pictures.

When I visited the loft it was clear that they were selling what was outside the windows, as the interior was nice -- in a 1980s kind of way -- but not what most $3mm buyers would leave untouched. Figure around $400k for a gut renovation.

As I noted then, that was a pretty big premium for views:

They are asking $3.2mm and $2,557/mo for "1,800+ sq ft", a very hefty premium for the view over the closed price for the 3d floor from February 2005 of $2.3mm (that was sold as "a beautiful and well-designed masterpiece").

All in all, asking $2.198mm for the “in original condition” 8th floor starting in March 2013 seems reasonable in light of these past full-floor loft sales … but there’s a more recent data point.

The 9th floor loft sold on May 15 off a December contract, after having taken 6 months and asking prices of $2.9mm and $2.75mm to find the deal at $2.6mm, the new (and reigning) building record price. That price implies a loft in pretty good condition (certainly, better than the “nice -- in a 1980s kind of way” of the 10th floor as prior building record holder), though the broker babble is rather muted and the photos are rather unrevealing. Instead of saying “recently” or “completely” or “meticulously” renovated, the 9th floor babble vaguely says about finishes “open chef’s kitchen”, claims only “stainless appliances”, and adds the detail of central air.

Again, asking $2.198mm for the “in original condition” 8th floor starting in March 2013 seems reasonable in light of the 9th floor (in contract at $2.6mm since December), if the 9th floor is one $200/ft renovation better than the 8th floor.

In the event, The Market thought the spread between the 8th and 9th floors should be much smaller than $200/ft, the 8th floor closed at that $2.43mm, or only $85/ft less than the 9th floor. I never saw the 9th floor, so I don’t know more about its condition. The Market was not very impressed, but how much of it was believing the loft was updated-but-not-very-well and how much of it was the difference between market conditions when contracts were signed (December 2012 v. April 2013) is impossible for an outsider to say.

I was going to say “my money is on …” but I’m just a blogger, without money in this game; my best guess is that The Market really was underwhelmed by the 9th floor condition, and therefore paid a premium to start over on the 8th floor to do a really nice renovation.

© Sandy Mattingly 2013

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Aug. 20, 2013 - 463 Greenwich Street loft is a fascinating project, sells at $1,442/ft


why not another one?

The “1,320 sq ft” Manhattan loft on the 4th floor at 463 Greenwich Street in northwest Tribeca is an interesting comp for yesterday’s somewhat primitive loft in prime Soho. Similar in size and in having classic loft character (I know it when I see it), this one is not quite as primitive in condition but still needs updating (more glass brick!). This one has views, though there is always the risk that nearby development will reduce or eliminate the “Hudson River and architectural views”. This one went only 3% above ask (it is the season for that sort of thing, of course), but started higher than the Soho classic, so went for $1,442/ft instead of yesterday’s $1,287/ft (both strong prices for no-frills coops). They were both quick to contract, but this one started a little later so they overlapped only a little while; probably long enough for some people who saw 152 Wooster Street to have seen this one, as well.

This one has a better floor plan (again with the single bathroom behind the kitchen), with more flexibility about future layouts, but has only a single exposure. (It helps a lot that it exposes the river, of course, rather than nearby brick and a parking lot). Exposed brick, wood beams and (wood?) columns with fascinating caps, and new mahogany windows provide the character; the nearly square floor plan provides that flexibility.

these can be a little faster than they look

Yesterday’s Soho classic was available for 4 weeks before going to contract by April 12. This Tribeca beauty came out on April 5 ($1.849mm) and was tied into a contract by May 1. Typical in such cases, the process moved even more quickly than the May 1 contract implies: by the time my buyer saw it in the first week there were 2 offers “in the $1.7s”; the next week there were “several” offers above ask and a deadline of April 16 for Best & Final offers, so that winning bid of $1.903mm was almost certainly accepted by April 17, with some probably anxious moments in due diligence and contract review before that buyer was assured of really getting the loft with the fully signed contract on May 1. (My guy passed, as the purchase + renovation budget got out of his comfort zone.)

Again: $1,442/ft for a no-frills coop that, while in perfectly “livable” condition is not in the condition that a buyer near $2mm will keep it at. The kitchen (glass brick!) is just not up to snuff, nor is that (unpictured) bathroom. While the current layout is a logical use of the space, my guess is that the buyers have asked their architect or contractor to erase the lines on the floor plan and start fresh. Maybe it is not necessarily  a $300/ft job, with just a new kitchen and 2 new baths; though you can always spend anything once you get started….

changing centuries by going a short distance

As noted, this 4th floor loft is a beauty, giving the new owners the opportunity to create a thoroughly modern environment in a classic frame. Their former home was about the opposite kind of Tribeca space, just half a block away. They sold this “880 sq ft” 1-bedroom full of stone and glass (and wenge) in the oh-so-modern, oh-so-metallic Zinc (475 Greenwich Street) for $1.375mm the day before the contract at 463 Greenwich Street was fully signed.

Obviously, they love the neighborhood. Apparently, they needed more space. Presumably, they came to appreciate the classic Tribeca loft form while living in a modern … er … knock-off. (No insult intended.) Snobs like me just love that sort of move.

© Sandy Mattingly 2013

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Aug. 17, 2013 - challenging American Thread loft at 260 West Broadway finally sells (contract took 50 weeks)


fools rush in (here comes Manhattan Loft Guy) ...

It is hard to argue with success, but I am going to try. The “1,365 sq ft” duplex Manhattan loft #9E at 260 West Broadway in the iconic American Thread Company Building sold on July 17 at a per-foot price that exceeds all but a couple of non-penthouse sales in this first great Tribeca condo conversion, with the most recent marketing effort taking just 9 weeks to get to contract at a reasonable discount (6%) off that starting price (the clearing price was $2.025mm). The sheen dims a bit when you match that recent marketing effort with the prior effort, which was recent enough to be continuous for my purposes in tracking on my Master List of Downtown Loft Sales; all in, the full history is:

May 24, 2012

new to market


June 22



Sept 26



Jan 2, 2013



Mar 7

change firms


April 21



May 10



July 17



At $1,483/ft, among non-penthouse sales here, that’s higher than the two “A” line sales a year ago and is exceeded only by the private #9G sale at the Peak and by the much larger and much nicer sale of #10B way back in October 2006 (StreetEasy building page, here). Why complain about that??

why 50 weeks?

The schedule contains a hint of a problem: to market May 24, 2012, in contract May 10, 2013, with the clearing price only a 4% discount from the (unsuccessful) asking price from the last quarter of 2012 (a price that succeeded this past Spring). If this had happened in a thin market, you’d say the price wasn’t wrong, the loft just needed exposure to find one of those few buyers. But (as you know) the market in late 2012 (continuing) is a seller’s market, with many frustrated buyers complaining about there not being enough inventory. (See the newspaper articles too numerous to cite.)

The listing photos contain a hint of the (to me) most logical reason: every photo that shows a no-detail-spared-renovation that has a window in it (almost all of them) shows the window at an extreme angle or pictures the windows with the shades down. You’d think, wouldn’t you, that a 9th floor “light-filled southwest facing” loft would be (you know) so light filled that you could see what is out the windows. (The 2012 marketing photos are similar, though that broker babble promises nothing about light.)

Fact is, the single exposure (much more west than south west) faces the narrow St. John’s Lane and the 10-story office building that you can just see to the left (west) of American Thread on the StreetEasy building page. (That “L” shaped building is slated for … (can you guess?) … condominium development, per this June 21, 2012 New York Post article.) My recollection is that the 10-story 30-32 Varick Street is almost as tall as the 12-story American Thread, so the west windows on the 9th and 10th floors in the condo get no direct sunlight; and I assume that if the 10th floor got direct light the shades in the 3rd listing photo (through which you can just make out the nearby building) would be open.

So here’s my theory: buyers who really wanted light wasted their time visiting loft #9E, and buyers who really wanted light who visited after seeing “light-filled southwest facing” shouted in the 2013 broker babble not only wasted their time but were probably mad about it. There is a market for beautiful lofts in iconic Tribeca condominiums that lack direct light (as proven by the fact that someone just paid $1,483/ft for this one). But that is not an especially deep market, and it may in fact be a market that would appreciate the direct comment in the babble about the (poor) light. I know that people who really want a “light-filled” loft are not going to find much light to like in loft #9E.

The buyer is presumably happy to have bought the loft, shaded windows and all. The sellers may not be unhappy about it taking nearly a year to get to contract (though they did replace the marketing team once, finding a team that would describe their place as “light-filled”). If the principals are happy, who can complain?

Just a guy with a blog. A Manhattan Loft Guy, with a blog.

© Sandy Mattingly 2013

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Aug. 14, 2013 - difficult penthouse loft sells above ask at 399 Washington Street


attention to some details, not others

The “1,800 sq ft” Manhattan penthouse loft on the 5th floor of 399 Washington Street at a funny little corner in Northwest Tribeca has many surface similarities to the raw-to-mints-in-3-years loft that I hit in Monday’s from raw to mints, 14 Jay Street loft doubles in value. They are approximately the same size Long-and-Narrow lofts with similarly enthusiastic broker babble about their renovations into 2-bedroom 2-bath arrays in small no-frills coop buildings a few hundred yards from each other in Tribeca; the market snapped them both up (contracts in 20 and 27 days), both for $100,000 more than the asking price. (This penthouse got $2.3mm on July 18.) But it is the differences between them that most interest me.


Most obviously, most buyers will view Jay Street off Hudson as close to prime Tribeca while Washington Street off Hubert suffers from proximity to the deadening dead-end of the Citi-complex. The top-floor Washington Street earns the “penthouse” moniker for having private rooftop space, yet the smaller (in theory) Jay Street loft sold much higher. Finally, while the layouts are similar, the more I look at the Washington Street floor plan the more irritated I get.

of course everyone is in the kitchen

Let’s start with the broker babble:

meticulously renovated in 2009 with mindful attention to detail that even the most discerning aesthetic eye will appreciate. The loft is topped off with a deeded roof deck that offers a respite from busy city life. A spectacular light-infusing skylight is the crown jewel of the loft. Imbued with a clean look, the loft features a professional chefs kitchen with 30ft of custom white glass cabinetry, 10ft ceilings, 7ft tall windows and more. The dream kitchen boasts glass tile backsplash and absolute noir Caesar stone quartz countertops that create an understated elegance. A grand scale master bedroom suite including customized walk-in closet and master bath completes this loft.

You don’t need the floor plan to conclude that that kitchen (with 30 feet of cabinetry) dominates the public space but it helps to have the 1” = 12’ thingy and the first two listing photos. Especially in comparison to 30 feet of kitchen cabinets, that living room is … er … cozy. Open to the kitchen area, obviously, but in terms of defined space (the rug, the seating, the entrance), the “living area” gets a small percentage of the main open room (a third?). If the photos actually capture how the sellers lived in the space, there is almost as much seating at the kitchen island as in the living room, and much more at the dining table than in the living room.

what do you think of this floor plan??

They owned it (and built it), so were free to do what they wanted. (Ah, the freedom of loft living!) But I would be surprised if most buyers would prefer a more conventional distribution of space in the front. My guess is that they wanted to put the island and the main kitchen utilities under that big skylight, which then dictated a loooong kitchen rather than an “L” shaped kitchen open to the front. (What else to do with the stairway wall opposite the “den/bedroom”, other than cabinets or closets?)

It gets worse (more odd) in the back …. Maybe there is something especially restrictive about where the plumbing stacks are at 399 Washington, but that master suite layout is pretty weird, and wasteful. That master bath nearly blocks 2 of the 4 windows, and there’s got to be a more efficient way to use that back space (especially if you could move the master bath where the walk-in closet is). Again, the plumbing stacks may dictate this array, but you are left with a “den/bedroom” with half a skylight but no window, instead of side-by-side bedroom son the rear wall like so many Long-and-Narrow lofts.

But that’s not all!

If someone is sleeping in that “den/bedroom”, note the odyssey needed in the middle of the night: out the door that is nearly as far back as it can be; walk 50 feet through Scylla and Charybdis between the kitchen cabinetry and island; make a U-turn through the elevator lobby; and (finally) open the door at the end of that odd extended foyer. Relief! That second bathroom is about 20 feet from the nearest corner of the “den/bedroom”, but is blocked by that huge kitchen; hence, a long walk in your PJs to use the WC. Weird.

Don’t you love the brick detail highlighted in bright red (pic #13 in the duplicating listing photos)? There’s the remains of an archway that probably provided access between 399 Washington and its neighboring warehouse or factory. There’s the hinge remnants on that elevator wall.

It took me an unusually long time to figure out that the red photo is the elevator lobby, meant to be forgotten on making the hard left off the elevator “into” the loft. It remains a vestigial space, with plumbing for a washer-dryer and that 2nd bath, but cut off visually from the loft proper, and a long walk to the loo for anyone not sleeping in the master. Wasting the corridor needed to retain access to the public stairwell.

Weird. All because these folks wanted a 30 foot run of kitchen cabinets. I am not saying the 2009 renovation was not done with “mindful attention to detail that even the most discerning aesthetic eye will appreciate”; just that my (discerning?) eye does not appreciate the details they chose to be mindful of, and wishes they had focused on other details.

One more thing about the floor plan: the outdoor space is not on it. Nor is it described by size in the broker babble. From the last listing photo, it appears to be less than 20 x 20 feet, with no attention having been paid to it in the renovation. The wood decking long predates the 2009 interior renovation; the 3 lonely (plastic?) chairs confirm that no one spent much thought or time up here. Not much of a respite from city living up there now, but certainly there’s the opportunity to exploit it.

we got comps

Just for fun, let's ballpark that roofdeck at 400 sq ft, and assume it is worth a generous 33% of the interior space on a dollar per foot basis (splitting the rubric of 25% to 50% of The Miller, with which I love to riff). That implies an adjusted value for this penthouse loft of $1,190/ft. That compares (very poorly) to the $1,543/ft for Monday’s loft at 14 Jay Street.

Part of that difference in value is undoubtedly due to location, part of it is probably due to the 399 Washington penthouse not really being “1,800 sq ft” (so the $/ft value is understated), part of the deficit is likely due to the mints being mintier at 14 Jay Street, and I would really like to believe that part of the deficit is due to the odd layout choices the 399 Washington Street owners made in the 2009 renovation.

One more parallel between these two lofts: the 14 Jay Street sellers did a gut renovation after buying the loft raw in 2010; the 399 Washington Street sellers did a “meticulous” renovation in 2009, after buying the loft (in unknown condition) in 2006 for $1.48mm. I am going to guess that the Jay Street sellers put more money into their renovation; they certainly got more out of it. (They doubled the value in 3 years after renovating; the penthouse folks merely increased the worth by 55% in 7 years before deducting for renovation costs.)

Comping is fun!

© Sandy Mattingly 2013


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Aug. 12, 2013 - from raw to mints, 14 Jay Street loft doubles in value


old market news, newly closed

The recently sold “1,620 sq ft” Manhattan loft on the 3rd floor at 14 Jay Street is a rather recent sale (July 15) but it does not reflect the recent market: the deal that just closed was entered into last Fall (contract date is October 24). Well, it is kinda sorta like the current market, as it was a very quick contract (to market October 4) and it went above ask ($2.5mm, though asked $2.4mm), which is very much like the current market. But you can’t blame the current market for this one. This one is from the famously Sellers Market of late last year.


Indeed, this loft was so beloved by that market that the seller could get away with insisting (as in the listing description) on a “June closing” (which turned out to be July 15; but still). Just think about the change in interest rates from last year, through the first half of this year, to the current environment. (Don’t make me find a cite, but the historically low rates that had been stable until the last few months have been creeping up; if this buyer waited too long to lock in a rate, or was charged a market fee to lock in a favorable rate, the buyer paid heavily for the honor of waiting an extra 8 months to close.)

I will get to the obvious quality of the loft in a moment, but here’s another indication 

of the quality of the loft

(in addition to the quick contract, above ask, with a delayed closing): the folks who just cashed out at $2.5mm bought the thing in January 2010 for $1.25mm as a “raw” loft (“[n]eeds everything, nothing is salvageable”). Bet you a quarter they put a lot less than $1.25mm into the build-out.

about that quality, obviously

They weren’t kidding in 2010 about nothing being salvageable. The new place has new windows, and a bunch of other goodies:

Triple Mint 2 bedroom 2 bath on one of Tribeca's most sought after cobble stone blocks. This gut renovation includes new oversized windows, exposed brick and a keyed elevator that opens directly into the loft. The open living and dining room offers oak floors and French doors opening out onto quiet Jay Street. The large custom kitchen features wooden accents from the original Coney Island boardwalk, a one-of-a-kind sealed metal counter, and top of the line stainless appliances (Liebherr, Bertazzoni, Bosch, Miele, Marvel). The master bedroom offers an abundance of walk-in closet space as well as an ensuite bath outfitted with Ann Sacks tiles. Extra storage throughout, full sized washer/dryer, central AC/heat.

Even if they spent $350/ft for all these goodies, that’s only $567,000 of the $1.25mm spread between January 2010 (November 2009 contract) and July 2013 (really, October 2012). Nice work, nicely worked.

The floor plan is a classic in a Long-and-Narrow: 2 bedrooms in the stuttered rear and plumbing in the middle for the back-to-back bathrooms behind the kitchen. Another floor plan in the building shows the width as just under 21 feet, which looks right from the photos and permits 2 reasonably sized bedrooms side-by-side and a square-ish front room, 3 windows wide over Jay Street. As with many Long-and-Narrow lofts, the entry splits the kitchen and dining areas, which some buyers don’t like, but which makes it easy to put a basket of keys on the kitchen counter.

The photos show that at least one long length of brick wall was, in fact, salvageable (I guess they were kidding, a little), and that they dropped the ceilings a bit for recessed lighting but not so much as to enclose the sprinkler lines. The exposed main water (waste?) line (see pic #3) may not be to everyone’s tastes, but it is to that of the three most important folks (the sellers, the buyers, and Manhattan Loft Guy). Nice touch, either restored, or preserved, or opened up. (The “wooden accents from the original Coney Island boardwalk” are not so easily identified, or necessarily so loft-y, but that’s cool.)

The result of all this nice work was that a modest-sized unit in a no-frills coop just sold without bragging about light or views for $1,543/ft. Yes, prime Tribeca, and yes, a nice build-out, but Fifteen Hundred Dollars a foot. Three years after buying at $750/ft and then building it out on an unknown budget.

Nice work, nicely worked, indeed.

© Sandy Mattingly 2013

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Aug. 9, 2013 - Beach Street loft neighbor expands, takes out neighbor at fair price


once more into the breach … er … beach

The recent private sale of the “1,722 sq ft” Manhattan loft #6C at 62 Beach Street in the Fischer Mills Building for $3.05mm ($1,771/ft) fascinates me. I always wonder how private deals set the prices at which they are done, and this one lines up well with the prior public sale in the building (#6B at $2.875mm a year ago, at $1,750/ft). I also always wonder how deals between neighbors who share a wall or ceiling/floor get done, and I have sometimes used the ugly word “extortion” to describe what can happen when an owner realizes a neighbor really really really wants to expand (I canvassed my neighbor-on-neighbor action as recently as in my August 7, 1 Worth Street loft neighbor bails out neighbor, at a (likely) discount; see that one for many examples). In the case of #6C selling near #6B a year ago, another fascinating detail is that the guy who bought the #6B on August 30 at $2.875mm in a public sale (that benchmark $1,750/ft) is the same guy who just paid $1,771/ft in a private sale. My last fascinating detail? It looks like the #6C seller was more willing than eager, yet made a deal at a fair price.

Given that the #6C seller did not look for anyone else to sell to, I would imagine that the #6B owner started the conversation, probably saying he’d like to buy her place at a fair price, probably adding that when he paid $1,750/ft a year ago that seller paid a sales fee. Assuming 5%, that seller would have gotten no more than $1,648/ft. What’s a fair premium over accounting for the 10 months between the #6B buy and the #6C sale? These folks think it is 7.5% on a price per foot basis.

Fascinating. The guy set a non-penthouse dollar-per-foot building record when he bought #6B in 2012; he just re-set the record in his deal to expand his castle into #6C.

do you like your brick white or natural?
As a private sale with no marketing, there’s no way to know the condition of #6C, but we are talking about a 2001 new condo conversion that the recent seller bought in 2003 (for
$1.56mm, if you’re curious). Chance are, it is in the same condition as originally, with a bit of wear and tear, including a Poggenpohl kitchen and 5 fixture master bath with Lagos Azul stone, radiant-heated floors and custom wood vanity (as in the #5D listing from 2010). Our listing system has an interior photo from 2003 that shows the open room with the exposed brick and wood beams that are part of the charm of Fischer Mills, which will make for an interesting aesthetic choice for the new owner of the two lofts. He bought #6B last year with the brick walls painted white and (possibly) the “rough-hewn timber columns and beams” somewhat muted (compare the #6B listing photos to the really rough-hewn timber columns and beams in the pix from this recent #2C rental listing).

Ten years ago, #6C looked a lot more like #2C than like #6B. When he does the coming combination, will he keep it old-school (like #2C) or white and more muted (#like #6B, in 2012 at least)?

© Sandy Mattingly 2013

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Aug. 7, 2013 - 1 Worth Street loft neighbor bails out neighbor, at a (likely) discount



not an act of charity

Hold on to your hats: this will be a bit of a bouncy ride. As I will explain, it is hard to blame StreetEasy too much for the sheer irrationality of the apparent listing history of the recently sold “1,525 sq ft” Manhattan loft two flights up at #3R at 1 Worth Street. Yes, the loft was listed for sale in 2011 and again in 2012 (the first link, above) at $1.495mm and $1.695mm, and yes, it did just sell on June 26 at $1.26mm, and yes, there is an active listing at $1.795mm on the brokerage firm’s website if you click through the “2012” listing on StreetEasy. The short story that most interests me is that the next-door neighbor bought the loft in pretty primitive condition (“[b]ring your vision and your architect”) after it failed in the public market, at a price well below the former asking prices; the longer story, explained further below, is that he only wanted a piece of it, and will eventually resell the remainder after it is all dressed up.

Start with that 2011 listing: it wasn’t a long effort (just 2 weeks), but may have planted a seed in the mind of the #3F owner. Now look at only the 2012 portion of the longer “effort” on StreetEasy:

  • May 31, 2012 new to market $1.695mm
  • July 4 $1.495mm
You can’t tell from StreetEasy, but at some point last Summer the sales effort petered out. I can’t tell if it was really off the market, or if it was still active on the web, but the inter-firm data-base shows that 9 open houses were scheduled between June 17 and August 1 last year, then … crickets. Agents don’t always enter the termination dates for exclusive sales agreements, and don’t always update a listing that goes dormant as “temporarily” or “permanently” off the market, but the fact that there was no public activity on the web and no open houses from August 1, 2012 until the June 26, 2013 deed suggests that the #3R seller was not actively marketing in that period.

But the guy next door knew he wanted to sell....

The guy next door has lived in #3F after completing a renovation of an even more primitive loft than #3R, purchased on May 24, 2007 for $1.135mm in this condition:

this is as close to old Tribeca as you will find today. ... open beamed ceilings, original columns and hardwood floors. Seven large windows span the South wall to light the entire space and two in the kitchen face North. Currently an untouched one bedroom, its open layout allows for myriad possibilities. This third floor walk-up is an estate property and it looks it. If you have vision and are looking for a challenge this just might be your perfect match

Having done that once, it was not such a big deal to take on (another)

original Tribeca Loft...a limited number of places you can renovate to your taste!! .... Great storage and lots of flexibility for renovation.Bring your vision and your architect

(He already had the “vision”, and an architect.)

If loft #3R really is “1,525 sq ft”, the #3F owner paid $826/ft for the opportunity to use his vision and employ his architect and contractor, after the #3R owner failed to find anyone else to sell it to at $1,111/ft and $980/ft.

If only there were a way to put those three numbers ($826/ft, $1,111/ft and $980/ft) in context ….

a little history

As luck would have it, in my February 11, 1 Worth Street loft sells after renovation / how building values change, I reviewed past sales at 1 Worth Street going back a few years, with the specific angle of how a building with primitive lofts that get upgraded will be treated in subsequent markets.

Despite different market conditions and (slightly) different conditions, these three past sales [March 2008, December 2009, February 2011] line up nicely: $757/ft, $788/ft, and $800/ft. And they line up quite a distance from the new #6R at an adjusted$1,113/ft. A few more resales of renovated lofts at 1 Worth Street and The Market will be more reluctant to automatically apply a market discount to this sunny corner near prime Tribeca. There is at least one neighbor for whom the transition cannot happen soon enough.

That “one neighbor for whom the transition can’t happen soon enough” as of February was, of course, loft #3R. That neighbor did not sell (as noted) at $1,111/ft or $980/ft, and the eventual clearing price of $826/ft does line up nicely with the prior $757/ft, $788/ft, and $800/ft in those three different sets of market conditions.

remember: not an act of charity

Regular readers of Manhattan Loft Guy know that one of the circumstances that fascinates me is when a neighbor sells to a neighbor. I think this was the last time: June 7, extortion or neighborly consideration 505 Greenwich Street loft? you decide, but there have been so many....

In this case it is hard to know how the $826/ft paid by the #3F owner to buy #3R compares to true market value, as I am leery of the square footage quotes in this building. If pushed (go ahead: make my day!) I would say that the #3F owner got “a deal” for #3R at $826/ft given that this one is only two flights up and is essentially flat to the February 2011 sale at $800/ft, in very different market conditions. Yet the #3R owner tested the market and made the best deal he could with the only buyer willing to buy. Whether or not the buyer “took advantage of” the seller is a moral judgment no outsider can make; price just looks a little lioght to me.

the end of this story is just the middle of another

I am going to add this bit because the StreetEasy sequence is so bizarre, so in need of some explanation, and I happen to have heard one that makes sense. The word on the street is that the #3F owner only wants a little bit of #3R, which is why that brokerage website mentioned above (and the extant StreetEasy page) talks about a “Completely Renovated” loft. It ain’t yet, but it will be, after the #3F owner carves a little bit out of #3R and finishes fixing up what is left over.

It will be interesting to see how much value The Market thinks has been added in the renovation from a primitive 1-bedroom-1-bath loft to a (slightly smaller) 2-bedroom-2-bath loft. But that is a topic for another day, after The Market decides.

© Sandy Mattingly 2013

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Aug. 5, 2013 - 22 Warren Street penthouse loft sells 6% above ask with 3 terraces, only 2 bedrooms

the limits of the loft form
There is a way to turn the recently sold “2,053 sq ft” Manhattan duplexed penthouse loft on the 6th floor at 22 Warren Street in southeast Tribeca into 3 bedrooms, but it would be hugely expensive. Not in dollars, as carpentry is relatively cheap, but in impact: the floor plan shows that the (if-split) bedrooms on the lower level of this duplex would each be 11 feet wide, ruining the glory that is the master suite:

gorgeous, north-facing oversized master suite, located on the main level, includes double-height solarium windows, a private terrace, walk-in closet, sitting area and en suite bathroom with a Kohler Sok, ultra-deep therapeutic bath and separate glass encased shower with multiple jets

That would be a shame (leaving one bedroom without a closet and the other with a long walk upstairs to a full bathroom), and a choice that (nearly?) all penthouse loft buyers in the $3mm range would avoid. The recent buyers didn’t just pay $3.55mm to ruin that master suite; they paid $3.55mm because they they had to (the $200,000 premium to ask indicates there was at least one other set of buyers) and because they don’t need more than 2 real bedrooms but plan to enjoy “more than 1,000-square feet of private outdoor space” separated into 3 different terraces.

That’s what can happen with lofts: even with over 2,000 sa ft of interior space, it is a 2-bedroom, period. “Apartment” lovers would freak out.

another StreetEasy miss

If you clicked on the StreetEasy listing, you’d never know the penthouse had been actively available for sale (May 2: “Listed in StreetEasy, already in contract, by CORE at $3,350,000”). If you clicked on the StreetEasy building page, you’d see that a unit #6 sold on June 27 at $3.55mm, but “No listing [is] associated with this closing”. StreetEasy has been doing this a lot lately, though often you can figure out the listing that is associated with the sale. But there’s no way to do that with StreetEasy with this sale. Of course the penthouse loft was publicly marketed; here’s the real story from the inter-firm data-base:

Jan 30

new to market


Feb 28



June 27



the great outdoors

Yes, that master suite is gorgeous, but the money is outdoors. A full-width terrace at each end of the lower floor, plus a rooftop terrace way up on top. In all, over 1,000 sq ft, as noted. There’s no photo of that upper terrace, alas. The last sale in the building was the single-level full floor “1,800 sq ft” 4th floor on Leap Day in 2012 (gotta click around StreetEasy to find that it closed for $1.9mm), so the 6th floor at $3.55mm includes rather a large premium for the great outdoors. The comp adjustments between the 4th and 6th floors 16 months apart are basic, but difficult to quantify: similar quality and utility (2 real bedrooms and an interior room on the 4th floor floor plan), though the 11 foot ceilings on the 4th floor are trumped by the 17 feet on the 6th, with the 6th having the much better light from the massive skylights … er … “solarium windows”.

In order to have some basis for riffing with The Miller about the value of the 6th floor terraces, let’s guess that the ceilings and light are worth as much as 10% more on the 6th floor, with the 16 months spread between sales worth another 10% premium for the 6th floor. (I am going to ignore the small 4th floor terrace in this exercise; sue me.) That moves the $1,056/ft for the 4th floor in February 2012 up to $1,267/ft for the 6th floor interior. That implies the interior was worth $2.6mm of the recent market value, with the $955,000 balance allocated to the “more than 1,000 sq ft”. if you guess that the “more than 1,000 sq ft” is really 1,100 sq ft, that’s $868/ft for the exterior space, or 68% of the value of the interior on a $/ft basis.

This implied valuation is outside The Miller’s rubric (25% to 50% of the interior value), and is dependent on the validity of the assumptions made in comping from the 4th floor sale. While dramatic, I think this is an appropriate reflection of what happened: buyers who might have spent just $2.6mm for interior space spent $3.55mm for the whole package, in part because Tribeca private rooftop space is pretty rare, and in part because there was another set of buyers pushing them.

Your mileage may vary.

© Sandy Mattingly 2013



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Jul. 30, 2013 - B side of the hyper-local market at 51 Walker Street is up 25% since 2011

more or less, in theory
Of course a continual theme on Manhattan Loft Guy is how a specific data point (loft sale) relates to The market over time, often by reference to a specific set of market conditions in which the loft (or one like … er … comparable to it) did (or did not) sell. Of course there were a few such examples last week, and one about the 2011 market from the week before (July 19, 108 Reade Street loft goes to war, secretly, beats the heck out of 2011 market). In that vein, I present for your consideration the recent sale of the "1,642 sq ft" Manhattan loft #7B at 51 Walker Street, which just sailed through the market at $2.55mm, a slight premium to the ask, 2.5 years after the neighbor downstairs in the identical #6B had a bit of trouble finding a buyer, finally closing at $1.95mm.


You can do the math as easily as I, but in case you don’t want any trouble: that’s a $600,000 premium for #7B in June 2013 over #6B in January 2011, or 30%. We can assign some of that to the slightly better light on the slightly higher floor (neither boasted about views, only about light), but not a lot. (The developer thought the higher floor, including transfer taxes, was worth precisely $76,369 more when they both sold in January 2007.)

height matters, only a little
Neither the sets of broker babble not the sets of listing photos distinguish #7B from #6B in any way. But we do know in this building at which point height matters. In my September 25, 2012,
height matters for 51 Walker Street lofts, even 2 floors, I hit the “A” line pair on the 6th and 8th floor, which then had sold at essentially the same time. The 8th floor catches an icon: “open sky and city views including the Chrysler Building”. That icon was worth 15%, or $295,000 in the slightly smaller (“1,550 sq ft”) ”A” line.

Add this post, and this information about values on the 6th, 7th and 8th floors in this specific building in northeast Tribeca, to any conversation you have with The Miller about valuing light without regard to views. I riffed with the guy in my December 3, 2012,
how to value light without also valuing views? The Miller gives it a shot, NY Magazine gives it a forum. In this case, I don’t think it likely that the 7th floor light was worth 6-figures over the 6th floor light, so I would put the June 2013 premium over the January 2011 value at $500,000, or 25%. At least.


© Sandy Mattingly 2013


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Jul. 19, 2013 - 108 Reade Street loft goes to war, secretly, beats the heck out of 2011 market

for reasons unknown
Still groggy from a 4AM wake-up call on Wednesday in Buenos Aires and an overnight flight from Chile to JFK on (still) Wednesday night, but it is time to get out of the Manhattan Loft Guy archives and back into relatively current loft sales. I present for your consideration the odd history of the “1,305 sq ft” Manhattan loft
#3E at 108 Reade Street, which did not sell during a very brief marketing campaign in 2011 at $1.375mm but just sold at $1.95mm after a bidding war that is easy to miss on StreetEasy. Let’s start at the end, with that note on StreetEasy “Sold for 1.3% below asking price of $1,975,000”.

No, the loft did not sell below the last public asking price. I don’t know why listing systems permit this, nor am I accusing any agent of anything other than bad data entry, but the real history of the listing (from our data-base; it is a Corcoran sale) is this:

April 10 new to market $1.8mm
April 25 offer accepted  
May 1 contract signed  
June 4 sold $1.95mm

That nonsense about a public asking price change to $1.975mm on the day the contract was signed is … er … nonsense. The deal at $1.95mm was struck off the original and only public asking price of $1.8mm. In fact, the loft took 15 days to get an accepted offer at an 8% premium to the asking price, and less than another week for that deal to be reduced to contract. If I were in charge of our listing system (ha!) I would make it impossible for an agent to change the asking price after an accepted offer, unless the loft were really offered to the public for sale as back on the market. This kind of sloppiness distorts the market, for those of us who try to make a living understanding The Market, and for civilians who try to keep up. End of (that) rant.

more scary than it looks
Regular readers of this blog with decent short-term memories know that I have riffed on that now infamous New York Times article a couple of times (see my June 2,
not every buyer should panic: that scary New York Times article is right, to a degree, and my June 4, revisiting the NY Times “time to PANIC!!!” piece with more (contrary) Manhattan loft sales data) and have used that “Scary!” meme to identify particular loft sales that should give Buyers With Facts the creeps (as in my June 24, scary sale of small loft at 19 Hubert Street; that one was more scary, at $1,364/ft in a coop with a layout that is very challenging). With loft #3E looking like a discounted sale rather than the bidding war that it was, loft buyers might not be as scared as they should be, alas. (The Master List of Manhattan Lofts Sold Since November 2008 has this sale, like others above ask, in green, for those Buyers Who Want More Facts.)

Asking price muddling aside, this sale is scary enough: this bones-only, no-mint loft in a no-frills condo in a not-quite-prime-but-convenient Tribeca location just sold for $1,494/ft. These are words commonly associated with a bones-only, no-mint loft: “well configured space”, “expansive living space”, “original tin ceiling”, “excellent … sunlight”, “nicely proportioned bedrooms”; the only doff of the cap towards finishes is the vague “Chef's kitchen”. No proper proper names or materials cited, just the claimed chef’s cap. (Does the glimpse of the kitchen in listing pic #3 look like a chef lives there? With a ¾ frig?) I happen to love very old wood flooring in lofts; the stuff in the photos looks not only very old but very beaten up.

Reading between the lines (and the photos), this is a well-configured 2-bedroom, 2 bath loft that needs updating, but there’s no reason to renovate. Still … $1,494/ft. S C A R Y.

not a fair fight in 2011
That 2011 effort was very short. I will try to get some background, but loft #3E actually got a quick deal off that $1.375mm asking price, but something happened to knock that sale out. Per our listing system:

Jan 31, 2011 new to market $1.375mm
Feb 13 offer accepted  
Mar 17 "temporarily” off the market  

If I find out where that deal was, or why it fell apart I will update this post. In the meantime, it is not hard to see where that $1.375mm ask came from. The loft upstairs was probably in “excellent” condition when it sold for
$1.48mm on February 2, 2007 (the very brief public marketing campaign at $1.7mm in 2009 does not claim a renovation). Yes, the 2007 sale does not seem to have been public, and yes, it was a full year before The Peak, but that was the last “E” line sale before #3E came to market in 2011, as it remains.

The most recent sale then (and now) in this small (9-unit) condo was the August 2010 sale of the larger (“2,160 sq ft”) loft
#3W next door, which provoked a bidding war before closing at $1,088/ft. Yes, 2010 was a different market, and yes, that loft was also (between the lines) somewhat primitive, but there’s a long way from $1,088/ft in 2010 to $1,494/ft in 2013.

S C A R Y, indeed.


© Sandy Mattingly 2013


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Jul. 9, 2013 - memory lane: cultural anthropology and a move to Tribeca from Uptown


Two Years Ago Today on Manhattan Loft Guy

You were warned in my July 4 post that you’ve got a couple of weeks of archived Manhattan Loft Guy material coming up. In my July 9, 2011, moving to Atalanta loft from WAY uptown, I wondered what would cause someone from the Upperest East Side to relocate to Tribeca.

The punchline:

The real fun, for Manhattan Loft Guy, is to speculate about the social distance in Manhattan between a 1,883 sq ft Tribeca loft essentially on top of a police stable and a Park Avenue coop as white glove as only a 1920s coop charging $10,000/mo maintenance can be.

© Sandy Mattingly 2013


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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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