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Manhattan Loft Guy

Aug. 15, 2013 - Flower District mini-loft sells above ask but flat to 2007 at 131 West 28 Street

Go To War Week continues
I can never top Shark Week, but this is the third post in a row about a Manhattan loft that sold above asking price. In the other two posts (August 12, from raw to mints, 14 Jay Street loft doubles in value, and August 14, difficult penthouse loft sells above ask at 399 Washington Street), my emphasis was more on the renovations and change in value (and to their relationship to each other as comps); in the case of the “900 sq ft” Manhattan mini-loft #3A at 131 West 28 Street, there was a bidding war (eventually), there was a renovation (a while back), but the most interesting angle (to me … it’s my blog!) is that loft #3A sold on July 13 at $845,000, essentially flat to the $840,000 that the recent seller paid to buy it in July  2007. This data point, at least, supports the view that the current hyper-local Flower District market is down since The Peak (since the $840,000 value was a half-year pre-Peak).

But first, the mild skirmish that generated the $845,000 sale:
Sept 27, 2012 new to market $875,000
Jan 14, 2013    
April 17 contract $840,000
July 15 sold $845,000
That’s only a “mild skirmish” because the deal followed a price drop by 3 months and because it generated a mere 0.6% “premium” to the (reduced) ask. Whether or not there was more than one bidder (likely, yes), the buyer thought there was enough competition to bid (a tiny bit) over ask. This is hardly the sort of sale to increase buyer anxiety, though it technically fits at least one of the Higgins Factors Leading To BUYER PANIC!!!™, for the same reasons it was only a mild skirmish.
flexibility, at a price
Blame the folks who sold to the 2007 sellers in 2006 for the layout (and give them credit for the lovely renovation). You can’t tell from StreetEasy, but our listing system has the 2006 marketing materials that show that the floor plan has that odd set of closets that sets off the living area from the “den / sleep” area because the 2006 sellers used that space as their master bedroom (notwithstanding the lack of walls-to-ceiling, or door). In exchange for having one real bedroom plus this the “den / sleep” area, you get a main living area that gets no direct light and (after you take 2 steps into the loft) no view of a window, although, as the broker babble explains “the wall of closets separating the living and den can easily be removed creating one large open living space”.
That closet wall separating the “den” from the living area creates two seating areas (as used by the recent sellers) or a second sleeping area, at the not-trivial cost of keeping direct light out of the main area and kitchen. Worked for the 2006 sellers, for the 2007 sellers, and for the 2013 sellers, and (apparently) it still works for the 2013 buyers. (If it doesn’t suit that last group, they will take the closet down [if they all sleep in one bed] or raise it to the ceilings and add a door [if they need two places to sleep regularly].)
there are more proper proper names to drop than you see
The broker babble is conventionally specific, and enthusiastic:
a modern renovation, yet … original charm and prewar details. Large double glazed windows framed with original chestnut … sunny Southern exposure, Chef’s kitchen with granite counters, stainless steel appliances, Miele dishwasher, Viking Pro burner oven, Dacor SS Microwave, Murano style glass pendant lighting, and Brookstone custom cabinetry. Currently configured as a 1 bedroom with living room and a den which could also be perfect for an additional sleeping area or nursery though the wall of closets separating the living and den can easily be removed creating one large open living space. Washer/dryer ….
The former broker babble is still on StreetEasy (without pix or floor plan, but it ain’t nothing) by agents you can count on to lay on the detail:
newly renovated, spacious 900SF loft has great storage and provides lighting in shallow high hats and attractive Techline wall washer low profile tracks on Lutron dimmers….the front windows are original chestnut and are augmented by double glazed insulated double hung windows of the tilt-in to clean variety. The current lay out accommodates one child's room and one master sleeping area in the front of the loft, but is flexible to adapt to other needs as well. The beautiful new kitchen features Miele D/W, Viking Pro burner oven, "Blue Safire" granite counters with dining overhang and Murano style glass pendant lighting. Also featured are a Dacor SS Microwave with screen logic controls; GE Profile SS French Door refrigerator with water filter and inset door dispenser, a Grohe single level fixtured faucet with extra deep sound attenuating Elkay sink, and fully extending Häfele drawer pulls on all of the new Brookstone custom cabinetry. A custom pantry and slate style tiled backsplashes and floors complete this family-style kitchen.The large bathroom features Kohler & Moen fixtures and has a bathtub with enclosed glass door for the shower. A washer dryer ….
Personally, I love that much detail in babble, so long as the stuff is worth babbling about in the first place. Especially at this 6-figure price point, the detail suggests a mint-ier set of mints than you conventional “triple mint” or “meticulously renovated” space.
All this stuff, plus the flexibility to have a second sleep area, for $845,000, or $939/ft, in a still-developing area in east Chelsea.
a snapshot of froth
One last number thing about prior sales. As noted, the renovation was done by the folks who sold in 2006 to the folks who sold in 2007. They sold for $743,500 on November 2, 2006, after doing all that work. Their buyers owned it for less than 9 months, by which time the market value increased by 13%, to $840,000. Those flippers didn’t keep much of that, of course (after paying the $50,400 sales fee, they had a tax bill coming on the regular income of the remainder), but The Market got a flippin’ bump of 13%.
Froth, indeed. But since then … not so much.
we’ve been here before
If you have a really keen memory and have been reading Manhattan Loft Guy a while, you may recall a similar loft, with (perhaps) a similar renovation, that sold here at (essentially) the same price as #3A way back in 2011. The details and local comps in my August 8, 2011, despite failed contract, 133 West 28 Street small loft sells above ask in a refreshingly efficient market, suggest that this hyper-local market has hardly changed in 2 years. That’s weird.
If you read that post, you will see this bit of Manhattan Loft Guy musing:
I have often wondered what was going on in this neighborhood before the flower folk moved in; windows are big, so let in a lot of light; some buildings are not very deep, so light does nto [sic] have to travel very far; but low ceilings are inefficient for bringing light into a space ….
Which leads me to the research of a transplanted Buckeye…
if you are a history buff …
If you are not familiar with the research, photos and musings of Daytonian in Manhattan, you should be. He’s got a fascinating piece on this building that starts with the architecture and moves to an extensive history, ending with this nugget:
In 1982 the upper floors were renovated to become 24 loft dwellings with four apartments per floor.  The owners of $1 million homes are most likely unaware that they are living where radical union members were once involved in stabbings, shootings and violent beatings.
Great stuff! (To answer my musing: thsi loft building had wholesale flowers at street level a hundred years ago, with offices above.) Thanks, tranplanted buckeye!
© 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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