my Master List of downtown Manhattan loft sales has changed, just a bit

it’s still hard to track The Market, especially in a niche like downtown lofts

Time for an update about my efforts to follow the downtown Manhattan loft market by tracking weekly (ahem, often weekly) newly filed deeds; more precisely, about how my efforts have been made more difficult (though not thwarted!) by mega-decisions by the StreetEasy front for the Zillow empire; even more precisely, about how the result is not (yet?) as reliably comprehensive as the former iteration, but the current version of my Master List is pretty darn good (with a new color!) and still the only game in town for folks who are specifically interested in the loft niche of the Manhattan residential real estate market.

Let’s break down that multi-bite mouthful. In my October 6, ain’t easy keeping track of Manhattan loft sales, and getting harder, I described the changes that StreetEasy made to the way they present data and permit it to be searched, and how they removed a wonderful way to track only newly filed deed records in bite-sized (and customizable) time periods. The only bit of good news from the StreetEasy front is that the Sold search is now reachable from the Sales homepage, under the Comparables link toward the upper right corner.

The bad news is that there is no work-around, no way to run a search that will deliver only fresh information (newly filed deeds, without regard to how long ago the sales closed). Alas. And alack.

The other bad news is that it will be rather more difficult to discover sales that take a long time to hit public record (i.e., when a deed is not filed for 60 or more days after closing), so the risk of me missing the not-so-fresh sales is now greater than it was.

Because of that risk, I will occasionally put “sales” in the Master List even if I don’t have a clearing price. To take one example, if you had looked at the Master List last week, you saw the “1,830 sq ft” Tribeca loft #7D at 260 West Broadway (American Thread Company) reported as sold on October 11, though there was no price in the “cleared at” field. That was because when I added to the list there was no public record (yet) link on StreetEasy. I reported it without a clearing price because I didn’t want to take the chance of losing track of it in future searches. As it happens, when I checked the listing today for purposes of this post, the deed was filed October 20, so the full price sale is listed.

Same thing with the Greenwich Village mini-loft #1010 at 77 Bleecker Street (Bleecker Court), which was reported as “sold” on StreetEasy as of October 13, although there was (when I first saw it) no “Sale recorded” link to a deed record. Again, that deed has now been filed (also on October 20), so I filled in the sale price of $587,500.

where did I come across “sales” that had closed but had not yet been filed?

In trying to see if there was a back door in StreetEasy’s data set that might be an easier path than the oh-so-cumbersome Comparables searches by neighborhood described in my October 6 post, I tried a Sales search. (Skip to the next sub-head unless you are intensely interested in the intricacies of StreetEasy’s data set and search capacities.)

  1. On the Sales home page, I clicked “All Downtown” in the “Location” box (as I used to do) and set the price parameters as $500,000 to $6 million
  2. Still on the Sales home page, I clicked the “+ Advanced Options” link to pull down a ton of other parameters or features by which to search, but was interested in only one: in the “Status” box I discovered you could filter for “Include only sold listings” … boom!
  3. The results are a ridiculous 30,070 sales (when I just did this), which would be even more ridiculous if they couldn’t be sorted
  4. The “Sort by” box up top is your friend (my friend!), especially as it defaults to “recently updated” (possibly my best friend) so, in theory I just have to keep going until I find deeds recorded when I last updated

I say “in theory” as the results I got today looked great, until this rather ancient sale popped up between sales recorded on October 21: yes, folks, the Noho coop loft on the 5th floor of 710 Broadway sold on March 1, 2011 (two thousand eleven), which led me to think the deed sat unfiled for five and a half years, but no; the deed was filed on March 19, 2011 (no typo). I can’t imagine what it was about this record in StreetEasy’s data set that made it as “recently updated” as deeds filed yesterday, but there it is. (Maybe it is the inherent unreliability of search results with 30,000+ records.)

The upshot is that it doesn’t inspire confidence, but may be usable, with patience.

Then I noticed another way to “Sort by”, and selected “Newest”. Not to try your patience much longer, I got some results that StreetEasy thinks have sold (presumably, because of a brokerage firm feed) that don’t yet have deed records (i.e., no official sales price). Hence, my addition of #7D at the American Thread Company and #1010 at Bleecker Court as placeholders (now completed). But there were, again, anomalous results: it was immediately obvious that the “Newest” results were not sorted by date of the sale at all (results can flow from July sales to September sales to August sales). Maybe they shouldn’t call it “Newest”??

StreetEasy was very responsive when I reached out by email for an explanation, and to see if there was another way to do what I really wanted to do. Unfortunately, there is no better way, and the explanation is weird, in a way that only a data-base manager might love. “Newest” doesn’t sort by what you’d assume it meant (most recent sale date) but by when the listing was first created in StreetEasy (trust me, the email explanation is “‘Newest’ is sorted by the date the listing was created in our data base, with the newest listing created in our database appearing at the top – this is why the Listed At and Sold Date are out of order”). This function is more a measure of days on market, though not even a direct one at that.

Again, I was referred by th helpful folks at StreetEasy to the Comparables report, explained on StreetEasy’s blog. Alas.

But if you see a listing on the Master List without a clearing price, you’ll know I have been playing around with StreetEasy, but not having much fun.

putting some red on the Master List

Since it had been so long between updates the the Master List, I really breezed through the results. Whether I ever get to full (full!) Manhattan Loft Guy treatments for many in that long set (I added upwards of 150 resales a bit more than a week ago), I noted two numbers that jumped out at me. From here on in, when you see a number in red, that is something I thought strange (or wonderful, I guess) and a candidate for a future post. But because there are so many lofts and so little time, many won’t make the cut.

You might want to find a red datum listing record if it is not obvious why I found it … weird. In the case of the July 26 sale of the “2,384 sq ft” Soho loft 139 Spring Street #7A, the closing price of $3.6mm got the red because of the healthy premium over the ask ($3mm). For the “2,802 sq ft”Greenwich Village loft 65 West 13 Street #7A [The Greenwich], it’s the On Market date in red, because it was so damn long ago.

I will try not to overdo it. Maybe I will stick with adding some red highlights, and maybe it was just a passing fancy when I did a bulk update. Time will tell; it always does.

Did the seasons just changed today, or what??

Posted in market data reports Tagged with: , , , , ,

new 44-story hotel in Chelsea to crimp some loft views

that’s what (sometimes) (eventually) happens if your sightline goes over a Manhattan parking lot [updated]

Another day, another new hotel announced …. The Real Deal had the news yesterday that a parking lot at 144 West 28 Street that sold two years ago for $42.8 million will become a 40-story hotel, with 528 rooms and a restaurant and bar on the ground floor. That means that open sky like this, from an 8th floor loft one block directly south, will no longer be quite as open:

most of the buildings in the block directly north of these windows were lower than this 8th floor loft; soon, no longer (Halstead pic, obvs)

The photo is from the “2,400 sq ft” loft #8F at 144 West 27 Street, which sold way back in 2013 for $3mm. There’s probably not enough of a loss of view to (much) impact value, but I hope the 2013 buyers didn’t simply assume that the view would remain as open as it was when they bought it.

[Update later that very same day … I should have used the Google maps photo from The Real Deal article to also illustrate the line of sight:

pretty sure that is 144 West 27 Street at the rear, right in the middle of this photo; the tall beige building with 3 windows across]

It’s a small Manhattan Loft Guy world sometimes …. It turns out that I mentioned the loft right below the one above (#7F) in my March 2, 2011, since that $458/ft loft sale at 144 West 27 Street …, and another loft a few floors below (#4F) in my September 10, 2012, price discovery was long + hard for 144 West 27 Street loft with 2 kitchens, 3 dishwashers. It’s good to be back!

it pays to be diligent

I’ve often hit the issue of looking at what you’re looking at outside windows. (How long might that nice open view remain open?)

Perhaps my favorite such post was my October 9, 2011, diligence due + negligence committed as West 15 Street lofts + East 15 Street apartments lose views. That post links to six (count ’em!) Manhattan Loft Guy posts going as far back as 2006 about how ‘open views’ are often at risk in Manhattan. To quote myself quoting myself:

Part of the charm of living in loft neighborhoods (in Manhattan and elsewhere), for me and I suspect for many people, is that they may be ‘developing’ neighborhoods, with a certain vitality missing from more staid (mature) residential areas and (often, at least early) a discount from the overall market because the ‘developing’ neighborhood may be a little more gritty than mature residential areas.

Part of the risk of living in loft neighborhoods (in Manhattan and elsewhere) that are ‘developing’ neighborhoods is that they … uhhh … will continue to develop.

That post is also a favorite because it pivoted off of a New York Times article about a fairly large coop that was asleep to the potential development behind them that turned out to impact almost 200 shareholders and then an effort (once awake) by these shareholders to pressure the city to reduce the size of a public school. From my perspective, NIMBY-ism at its worst.

More recently, my August 6, 2015, did rising tide eventually sell huge 141 West 26 Street loft (with rising hotel)?, featured a second floor loft with a long wall of north windows over a parking lot. The selling agents didn’t have (give) a lot of information about the development potential of that lot when I visited with buyers, but we found out a great deal about a hotel that would fill the entire lot by clicking around various city agency sites.

In short, there would be a one-story structure in the southwest corner of the new hotel and a ground floor “rear yard” across the remaining two-thirds of the hotel width, with the flue for kitchen exhaust somewhere near the middle of the hotel width, probably opposite some of the windows of the second floor loft at 141 West 26 Street.

My clients passed on that buying opportunity, but someone eventually bought the huge loft (“4,050 sq ft”) that required a total renovation for $938/ft; it took nearly a year for the original asking price to attract a buyer (there’s another story there about an asking price being wrong, wrong, wrong, until [one fine day] right; but that’s another story).

(Ironically, the to-be-built hotel behind 141 West 26 Street is directly next to the lofts mentioned up top at 144 West 27 Street, whose open views are now threatened by a to-be-built hotel to the north of that address. It is a very small Manhattan Loft Guy world sometimes, but this issue is not limited to the West 20s between Sixth and Seventh Avenues.)

what’s a buyer to do?

You’ll find ideas in the two posts above about public sources for information about potential development outside the window you may be interested in buying, but here’s a spoiler alert: the local Community Board and your city Council Member are your friends.

In the case of the 141 West 26th Street loft my buyers were interested in, the publicly available information was both relatively easy for even a real estate agent to find and easy to interpret by me and my clients. Things aren’t always so straightforward, of course, and I’ve gotten quotes over the years in the one to two thousand dollar range to retain an architect or expediter to check development rights outside windows.

Just last week, however, I got an email from a title company (a source I hadn’t before considered as useful to this issue) identifying a (new to them, I think) “sightline” service (“[w]e analyze FAR calculations and numerous other factors to determine unused development rights so buyers can understand the potential for change in the properties adjacent to their purchase”) that sounds awfully helpful. For as little as $500 (I think, but I can’t find it now), they generate a report that includes 3D schematics.

Maybe others have offered this sort of product before and I’ve simply been unaware, but this sounds like a very good idea. (Assuming it is truly comprehensive, and as reasonably priced as I recall.)

It’s not rocket science, but it does involve Latin: caveat emptor!

Posted in loft neighborhoods chelsea Tagged with: , , , , , , , , ,

sometimes a stair is just a stair, but in some Manhattan duplex lofts ….

you want it straight, bent, or rounded?

For some folks, the need to get from Down to Up in a Manhattan duplex loft is a bug, for others it’s a feature. A stair shrinks a space (eats into the floor plan on both levels) but having two levels provides wonderful separation between ‘public’ and ‘private’ spaces. Few people are indifferent, and it’s kinda sorta a chocolate or vanilla thing. But how you get from Up to Down, and back again, presents some choices.

I looked at about a couple hundred closed loft sales last week in (finally!) updating my Master List of downtown Manhattan loft sales. It’s funny what jumps out at you in scanning so many listings, so quickly. In this case, I was struck by a sequence of stairways, each a different solution to a problem endemic to duplexed lofts. Let’s look at some pictures, and floor plans….

This L-stair (with a single landing) dominates a relatively small duplex loft (“1,083 sq ft”), but it is pretty stylish:

white as it is, it still looms

It takes quite a bite out of the floor plan, especially upstairs:

not sure there is room for a bed up there

Here’s a stair with two landings in a slightly larger loft (ballpark it at “1,400 sq ft”), a much lighter feature with the open rails:

put a bar under the stair, for crying out loud!

If you could use the nooks or crannies created by such a stairway, the bite out of the floor plan isn’t quite as great:

upstairs, that’s a void of about 8 x 8 ft (Elliman again)

I’m not sure this one is even legal (no railing!) but it is certainly lighter still, in footprint and in feel, in another small loft (“1,000 sq ft”):

friends don’t let friends … drink and climb

Same building as the one above, this somewhat larger loft (“1,284 sq ft”) uses a common type (the spiral stair) but stretches it to an artistic level:

it “floats” doesn’t it? (pay no attention to the stairway [fire escape] in the window) (an Elliman photo, btw)

(I’d show you how on the floor plan this ‘stretch spiral’ takes up less room than all but one of the above stairways, but the floor plan doesn’t do this stairway justice.)

This is all too often the ‘default’ stairway, to be avoided (IMHO) unless there are no better options:

I’ve never seen anyone navigate this sort of thing without a hand on the rail.

If the treads are only 28” wide, that’s still a box of almost 25 sq ft taken out of each level. And with your standard (tight) spiral stair, it is rather awkward to carry anything that requires two hands up or down. An infant, for instance.

Posted in loft style Tagged with: ,

ain’t easy keeping track of Manhattan loft sales, and getting harder

the behemoth’s business model runs over Manhattan Loft Guy’s

If I had to select one thing as the most publicly beneficial thing that Manhattan Loft Guy has offered the general public since March 2006, that Most Best Thing would be my Master List of Manhattan Loft Sales, currently between $500,000 (ha!) and $6 million (my original upper limit was $5 million, but that’s so 2014). You’ll see a bunch of information for every downtown Manhattan loft sale that I could find, from sale date and price, to size (if I have a reliable size, then price per foot), to dates on the market and in contract (if all there, then Days on Market), to original price, and past sales of the same loft.

I’ve broken my Master List up chronologically to keep the size of the file from being too unwieldy, but the current iteration is here, from 2014 to present. The ‘current’ iteration still says “resales a/o 7.23.16” even though there are resales as current as September 29, which is a long story. Brace!

Longtime readers of Manhattan Loft Guy know that the source for most of this data has been StreetEasy, sometimes supplemented by or contradicted by the inter-firm data-base (particularly as to prior sales from the distant past, or size). To say that StreetEasy has been indispensable to my effort is an understatement. But their business model no longer includes making it so easy for for me, or for anyone else who wants to stay really current on recorded sales on any gross scale, to track new information while it is fresh.

Two things:

1 Damn.

2 And, they don’t owe me anything and, of course, they can run their business any way they see fit. But I’m not sure they appreciate the impact of what is (probably) a simple change on their part to how they manage and present data. Any chance this is reversible? Let’s find out…. And one more thing:

3 Damn.

4 OK, one more: as notable a real estate data nerd (meant in the most complimentary way possible) as The Miller was surprised and (reading between the tweets) disappointed by this change by StreetEasy.

for fans of ‘inside baseball’, Manhattan Real Estate Industrial Complex edition, only

In the old days (as you may know fi you ever used the wonderful facility to search Recorded Sales), if you were on the “Sales” side of the StreetEasy home page there was a button to search “Recorded Sales”. You could search by neighborhood, by price range, by property type, and by two types of date ranges (sale date, or date the deed was recorded). For both the date ranges, you had a wide range of options, from “last 7 days” to much longer and, critically for my usage, you could specify “any” in one date range and customize the date range in the other.

My standard search, performed every Saturday when I was a really diligent Manhattan Loft Guy, used the price range $500k to $6mm, neighborhood “Downtown Manhattan”, sale date “any”, and a custom record date that selected the dates of the last seven days. (The benefit of specifying the dates instead of selecting”last 7 days” in the dropdown menu is that if I didn’t finish my review the same day I started it the search results were fixed; using “last 7 days” ran the risk of the results changing if the page refreshed.)

As I’ve said before when describing my method, the results from this search were very over-inclusive, and I relied on my knowledge (intuition?) about which addresses were “lofts” and ignoring those that were “apartment” buildings. Not a prefect system, but there was none better that I was aware of.

Again, the benefit of searching by “recorded” date was that I picked up all sales that had recently passed through the City’s ACRIS data, whenever the sale actually took place. As you probably know, deeds filed in a given week may be for sales the closed as recently as ten days or as long as … whenever. Many sales don’t get recorded for a month, and some take ridiculously long to hit the public record (I’ve seen deeds filed more than a year after the sale).

In this system, the only reason I would miss a downtown Manhattan loft sale was if I didn’t recognize an address as a loft building (of course, I often checked the listing when I was uncertain). And every search with a different date range for “recorded by” would have no overlap with any other search; this made the process pretty efficient, if time-consuming.

In a given week, the entire data set was usually between 40 and 100 sales, which might yield as few as ten loft resales, rarely more than 20. Which I manually enter (address, unit, date, price, etc.) on the Google Drive spreadsheet that I’ve made ‘public’ so that anyone can see it. The current Master List begins on January 1, 2014 and has well more than 1,500 downtown Manhattan Loft resales and (on Sheet2) more than 300 new development sales, and counting ….

I’ve been Zillow’d

If you’ve paid any attention at all to the data side of Manhattan residential real estate, chance are that you’ve used StreetEasy hundreds if not thousands of times. And you know that the folks who created StreetEasy left over time after StreetEasy was acquired by Zillow. Possibly even that Zillow acquired the former Buyfolio product, only to end it. (No one has ever presented a better consumer-facing agent communications interface, alas, which suggests there’s no [big] money in such a product. Alas.) Well, not “only to end it” (Buyfolio); most likely, the smart folks at Zillow wanted the smart folks at Buyfolio on their (new) team for StreetEasy.

Zillow is, as you probably know, a national site with ambitions to rule the consumer search industry, with a revenue model (it seems to me) heavily dependent on advertising and other fee-for-services from agents and brokerage firms. Let’s leave most of that alone for the moment and focus on “national”. National data firms need national standards for data collection, presentation, and search. (Economies of scale, blah blah blah.)

My guess is that the way Recorded Sales now work on StreetEasy is the same way they work on other Zillow sites across the US. And that StreetEasy, overall, is losing the Manhattan-specific things that the founders struggled with, and found solutions for. I’d bet you a quarter (my typical limit; I’m cheap, not uncertain) that in “America” deeds get filed on a timely basis, and staying current with The Market on a date-sold basis is pretty easy.

The fact that ‘New York is different’ is a multi-faceted problem for Zillow, whose geography-based ‘Zestimates’ tend to rely a great deal on a given house being surrounded by houses that are more or less similar, instead of an environment in which the same block might have condos and coops with widely varying amenities and values. That’s a discussion for another day, but for today the point is that Zillow probably sees it as important for data to be collected, presented, and searched in similar ways across all platforms in all markets it serves. (You don’t see “Zillow” in New York because they recognize that the StreetEasy brand is too well-known to abandon, at least for now.)

old man Guy wishing for The Good Old Days

Nothing stays the same (especially not in New York ForCryingOutLoud!). The old StreetEasy was really good at some only-in-NY things, with a management team that was pretty visible and, I would add, transparent about the challenges of presenting NYC residential real estate data. New management is relatively unconcerned about explaining changes. To take the current example, I found nothing in the StreetEasy blog or other social media streams referring to the removal of Recorded Sales from the Sales home page. Instead, I bounced a question via Twitter on July 31 after being unable to do that which I’ve always done to update my Master List (alas) “is it possible you’ve removed the NYC Search Closed Sales function?? or, am I missing it on yr homepage?”; the reply came next day “See it via comp report on closed listing pages: Registered agents via Recorded Sales Hotshots“.

The Comp Report is kinda sorta hidden in StreetEasy. I have no idea what the pages look like for a non-subscriber civilian, or if there’s a quicker route for me, but in my paid StreetEasy account I get to the Comp Report through home -> Your Account -> Settings -> Comparables. The tortured route is just a small indignity, but indicative of a StreetEasy belief that this is not a very important tool. Alas.

If you get to the same sort of page that I get to, you see you can search by (1) Neighborhood / Address / Building / Key Word or by a list of addresses or by a custom boundary, (2) by Sale or Rental, (3) by property type(s), (4) by price range, including “any” at either or both ends, (5) by bedroom, bath, and square foot counts, and (ta da!) (6) by “Show recorded sale from the last …”, where the choices range from 30 days to a year.

The results show up in various categories relevant to doing a traditional “comps” report (a) Active listings, (b) In-contract listings”, (c) Unavailable listings, and (d) (ta-da!) Recorded sales. While you can toggle off any of these categories, these are the defaults. Most critically, the data hits reported in any category is limited to 100; after all, who would do a comps report with more than 100 data points??

Not to be selfish, but to use my search effort as an example, running my standard search ($500k to $6mm, downtown) with the smallest possible date range (last 30 days) generates something more than 100 results in each category, so that doesn’t work. (And I don’t care at all for any category but Recorded sales.) Doing it today by the same neighborhood but changing the dollar ranges yields less than 100 Recorded sales if I use $2mm to $6mm, from $1mm to $2mm, and from $500k to $1mm, but that’s not very useful to me, as there are almost certainly a significant number of sales older than 30 days with a deed that was recently filed. I could play with dates, but my working assumption is that I need at least “past 90 days” to be reasonable assured of being reasonably comprehensive.

Alternatively, I could search by smaller neighborhoods, in my regular price range, using “past 90 days” as the sale date. That’s what I did yesterday, generating fewer than 100 Recorded sales in Tribeca (yay!), which I’ve now added to the Master List. I’m halfway through Flatiron. That leaves me only … 13 other neighborhoods downtown (without counting sub-neighborhoods such as West Chelsea or NoMad).

Trial and error will lead me to discover which combinations of neighborhoods will most efficiently get me close-to-but-not-reching 100 Recorded sales results, but for now … 13 neighborhoods to go. Then, if I stick to updating the Master List weekly (as in The Good Old Days), my repeated search will likely have only a few new records, but I will have to cross-check frequently to be prudent.

What used to take me an hour or two on Saturday, and yielded a very high certainty that I found all the newly filed loft sales, will take me some serious multiple of that, with a much lower certainty that I will have found all the newly filed loft sales (because of the 90-day limit).

First World Problems, perhaps. But a huge pain in the butt, nonetheless.

I’m an eternally optimistic fellow Guy. Perhaps I can convince StreetEasy that there’s merit in adding a “Recorded By” field to the Comps functionality, with limits either customizable (yay) or much shorter than 30 days. A Guy can dream ….

Posted in market data reports Tagged with: , , ,

500 Greenwich Street loft sale mocks ‘market efficiency’

unique buyers make deals with unique sellers, market trends be damned

You can tell pretty easily that the recent sellers of the “3,963 sq ft” Manhattan loft #402 at 500 Greenwich Street were rather disappointed to have sold their oh-so-classic loft for $4.95mm on June 14: the darn thing was brought to market way back in June 2015 … for $6.75mm. Before we look at the full (painful!) listing history, there is one additional data point that even more starkly proves that these sellers were very disappointed: the slightly larger (“4,300  sq ft”) but very similar loft #201 downstairs sold for $5.325mm … nearly four years ago.

At this scale, I’m not sure price per foot is a more useful metric than absolute dollar price, but the loft #201 sale at $1,238/ft in November 2012 would imply a present value for loft #402 currently of about $1,604/ft (the StreetEasy Manhattan Price Index is up 29% in that time, from $762,070 to $987,271 in May 2016), instead of the $1,249/ft that the cold cruel market just provided. (If you ignored the small-at-this-scale size difference between the two lofts, that 29% calendar-based market gain ‘should’ have yielded more than $6.8mm [keep that number in mind …] instead of the $4.95mm actual result.)

Here’s the full (painful!) listing history of loft #402:

June 2, 2015   new to market $6.75mm*
Sept 8 $6.25mm
Nov 11 $5.95mm
Jan 28, 2016 $5.25mm
April 21** contract
June 14 sold $4.95mm

remember “more than $6.8mm??

** contract date from the inter-firm database

As wild as that stand-alone history is, the real pain is due to the failure of the 2012 loft #201 sale to set the 2016 market value for loft #402. Let’s look at the charms of loft #402 before trying to deal with that madness.

a brick lover’s paradise, in massive scale

No matter how laid out, a “3,963 sq ft” loft with only two exposures presents challenges. In this case, the loft is nearly square, with windows east and west:

extravagance is secondary BRs of 16×19 ft (all images from DougE, clearly)

You really need to love brick to spend time in this space:

looks like all the exterior walls are brick, deep red brick

in case you can’t get enough brick, there’s a thick course of it represented by that thick line on the floor plan

These two photos amply show the classic loft elements, beyond brick: the beams and columns, the exposed pipes and sprinklers, and that sliding door cover (they call it a “barn door”, which is a funny way to describe a Manhattan loft feature; I’m guessing it is an original fire door). A loft snob might quibble about that (slightly) dropped ceiling (moi??), as that expanse of flat white surface feels oppressive to me, and is especially jarring at the tops of the windows. Your mileage may vary, and if you own it you can do what you want, snobs be damned.

While I’m in a quibbling mood, with all that space, even a 17x13ft kitchen can feel cramped:

yes, I am really quibbling

Looking at the floor plan, it is possible that the kitchen has to be fitted between that arched opening in the photo and a structural wall (with risers?) behind the frig. I’m not suggesting that this kitchen alignment is a market deficit, but the footprint of loft #201 appears to permit a more impressive kitchen set-up:

everyone drops their ceilings here, alas

loft #201’s floor plan suggests more kitchen and bath flexibility in that line

was this loft the canary in the luxury market coal mine?

I would go so far as to say that the prices for loft #201 in 2012 and #402 in 2016 are irrational, in the most basic sense of defying sense. I am certain the listing agents had many (painful) conversations with the sellers, trying to understand why loft #402 didn’t sell more quickly, and didn’t sell closer to any of the first three asking prices. Those of us in the market-data world would certainly have been surprised, even (for someone who did not have money in the game) frustrated. To have been party to the deal … unimaginable for me.

Maybe buyers for this much space with this much money really did have more choices in 2016 than in 2012, leading to a competitive deficit for 500 Greenwich Street lofts. (Emphasis on maybe.) Maybe this loft’s experience in 2015 was the beginning of market-softening at the $4 million-plus market, as so many commentators have been commenting on recently. If you saw my February 26, more on the $5 million Manhattan loft market, a year over year look, you saw me struggle with exactly that issue, using the thin data about loft sales at the top of my dollar level of interest, year over year.

One weakness in doing year over year analysis based on what sells is that the mix of what has just sold, compared to what sold 12 months before, presents a host of variable comp factors. And there are not enough data points to inspire much confidence in the conclusions one can (should) draw, especially in a niche market such as Manhattan lofts, or in niche-ier submarkets such as Soho lofts, let alone such niche-ier submarkets sliced thinner by price.

The same-building paired loft sales of #201 in 2012 at $5.325mm and #402 last month at $4.95mm eliminate many of the variable comp factors that complicate a Manhattan loft year-over-year analysis: there is no need to adjustments based on location (unless one feels that this frontier corner of Soho has become marginally more marketable in the last four years), the character of the two lofts is very similar (similarly, the level of finishes), view and light seem not to make material differences here. In other words, #201 is a very good comp for #402, mainly requiring adjustment for time and market conditions, then to now.

I’ve already tipped my hand about that: the StreetEasy Manhattan Price Index is up 29% in that period. By any rational analysis, loft #402 should have sold in 2016 at a more or less proportionately higher value than loft #201 in 2012.

That. Did. Not. Happen.

One can’t (shouldn’t) argue with market facts. (The Market emphatically stated that loft #402 was not worth around $6.25mm last Fall, was not worth around $5.95mm at year-end, was not even worth $5.25mm at the beginning of the year; instead, The Market proved that this loft was worth exactly $4.95mm when it went to contract in February.)

The Market does not care that these market facts are irreconcilable with the market facts involved in the sale of loft #201 four years earlier. Damn The Market!

Posted in loft neighborhoods soho Tagged with: , , , , , , , , ,

2,000 sq ft head to head, Soho loft on Wooster crushes Tribeca loft on Warren

comping is (still) hard in the Manhattan loft niche

You can’t have a much more stark comparison between two lofts in the prime Manhattan loft neighborhoods than two approximately 2,000 sq ft lofts that sold on the same day, both with high ceilings, both with a mix of classic features dressed up with things like chef’s kitchens, both built as two bedroom + two bath units, both condos. The “1,948 sq ft” Soho entry, loft #3E at 43 Wooster Street, sold on June 24 just above ask at $3.975mm after taking six weeks to get into contract, while the “2,010 sq ft” Tribeca stepchild comp that also sold on June 24, loft #4E at 8 Warren Street, took (just) ten weeks to get into contract for $3.28mm. In absolute dollar terms, that’s a spread of $695,000, or a 21% premium for the Soho loft; on a per-square foot basis, that’s $2,041/ft vs. $1,632/ft, or a a 25% premium for the Wooster Street loft over its poor relation in Tribeca.

That’s shocking, isn’t it?

interiors more similar than different

I’ll get to the differences between the lofts below, but the similarities are many. In condition, the lofts sound and look very similar (from broker babble and listing photos; I’ve not seen either one in real life); one bit of babble is restrained, the other, voluble:

Very Cool … Loft with large windows and High Ceilings 10Ft 10″ and WB Fire Place. The master bedroom has an en suite white marble bathroom with steam room and the second bedroom has a bathroom just across the hall. There is also a home office and the chefs kitchen has a Viking oven, Sub Zero fridge & wine cooler. … Speakers for Home Theatre are installed.

(That’s pretty restrained.)

the ideal combination of classic loft with stylish modern touches. … voluminous ceilings, large 6 foot windows, hand-pointed exposed brick walls and truly stunning re-milled antique wide-plank pine floors. …

The elegant chef’s kitchen, designed by Mobili de Angelis, is fitted with a Viking range with vented hood, Sub Zero refrigerator, a wine cooler, garbage disposal, trash compactor and customized cabinetry.

… master suite … outfitted with custom closets and an en-suite bath with heated flooring …. a large custom work space and cabinetry in the gallery.

… abundant closet and storage space, as well as a utility room with a separate boiler, hot water heater and vented washer/dryer.

(That’s pretty … wordy [“voluminous” ceilings??], and my ellipses saved you a lot of time.)

Kitchens weren’t pictured the same way, but …

some people prefer redheads


some prefer blondes

Baths feature stone, and more stone, with only a slight difference in utility:

that’s a shower stall on the left, but just one sink

for the couple on the same tooth-brushing schedule

“Classic” loft features are few, but evident, including different wood-framed windows:

what a column! makes me want to see the beam exposed, alas


bricks! we got bricks!!

In each of these pairs, the Soho loft leads, the Tribeca loft is second. (Thanks, DougE for all photos, obvs.)

floor plans and locations begin to break to Soho

The Soho footprint permits a more efficient use of space:

nearly square, so very little “hall”

In Tribeca, the classic long-and-narrow presents classic utility and challenges:

how to use that “gallery”? here, add custom work space + cabinetry (look to the left in top photo, above)

We are deep into matters of personal preference here (as opposed to market impacts), as some Manhattan loft lovers love the separation between public and private space in a long-and-narrow loft, while others with equal ardor prefer the efficiency of the near-square. One consequence of the difference in the two footprints is evident in the southwest corner in Tribeca: it is very easy to add a third (legal) bedroom to a long-and-narrow loft that is “23 ft” wide; that is a slightly harder thing to pull off in the near-square of Soho (more easily do-able by shrinking the existing bedrooms, if you can split the window wall; otherwise eat into the great room).

But the cost of adding that third bedroom is a greatly reduced sense of volume in the long-and-narrow format. See the last photo above, and note (from the floor plan) how closely cropped that photo is, with the wall between living room and third bedroom running just out of frame, left. You’re left with two windows in the public area in Tribeca’s long-and-narrow loft, compared to three and two windows in Soho’s corner living room:

math wins! “40 x 24” dwarfs “14’6″ x 30’6″”

Soho closed the utility gap

If you counted windows in Soho, you might be puzzled about the fifth photo above, which appears to show four windows on the long public wall, while the floor plan only has three. Turns out that if you were willing to put children to sleep and let them wake up in the dark, you can duplicate the sleeping utility of the Tribeca long-and-narrow loft. The 8th listing photo with bunkbeds and a floor to ceiling curtain is actually the “home office” on the floor plan, rather than Bedroom 2, which clearly (compare listing photos 3 and 5) is used as the work space with sliding door. They cheated, to get more utility and even more volume in Soho, which you can sometimes do in a nearly square loft (and with mushroom children).

edge of nabe, or just off-center?

I suspect that the biggest reason for such a gap between largely similar Soho and Tribeca lofts is location. (Or, as the Media Division of the Manhattan Real Estate Industrial Complex might put it, location, location, location.) We are again into matters of taste, but 8 Warren Street is hardly prime Tribeca. The plusses are proximity to City Hall Park and … (there must be another one ;-). Downsides to this location compared to other, more typically valued Tribeca lofts, include the very commercial feel of this block (and surrounding blocks) and the distance to the restaurants and shops that people who love Tribeca restaurants and shops think of as “Tribeca”.

43 Wooster Street, in contrast, is outside prime Soho, but not by very much. Of course, Soho is a more compact neighborhood than Tribeca (especially if you tend to ignore the “new Soho” blocks west of Sixth Avenue, as I do), so it is easier for any Soho address to be close to ‘prime’ than it is for far-flung Tribeca addresses to approach the prime micro-nabe.

the dollar difference is even bigger than you think

The absolute dollar value between the observed market value of these lofts (to review: $3.975mm vs. $3.28mm) grows if you take into account monthly expenses. 43 Wooster Street is a 10-unit condo that was converted in 2002, offering a weekday-shift doorman amenity lacking at the 14-unit Trinity Stewart Condominium that was converted (lower five floors) and built (upper five floors) by 2008. The two units we’ve looked at are taxed similarly, with the older (and slightly smaller) #3E at 43 Wooster Street carrying $1,241/mo in real estate taxes, while #4E at 8 Warren Street is at $1,525/mo; but note the difference in condominium common charges to support that 40-hour-per-week doorman: $1,477/mo in Soho compared to only $404/mo in Tribeca.

The net per month ($789/mo) is a non-trivial factor. The best-qualified borrowers were quoted 3.375% for a 30-year-jumbo loan last week by one of the big lenders who fills my in-box; at that rate, $789/mo would support about an additional $175,000 in mortgage. For people who think this way, the absolute dollar premium between our mixed pair of the Soho loft and the Tribeca loft grows to about 26% (from 21%) and the per-foot premium grows to 30% (from 25%).


These two very similar lofts are only about seven-tenths of a mile from each other. I wonder if an out-of-town appraiser might be tempted to consider them as comps for each other. If so, they will stumble over the (straight up, per foot) 25% premium for 43 Wooster Street over 8 Warren Street.

Posted in loft neighborhoods soho Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

how can a full price deal disappoint? when the Chelsea loft sells off nearly $2M from start

Manhattan loft price discovery can be slow & painful

The folks who sold the “3,300 sq ft” Manhattan loft #6F at 205 West 19 Street in prime Chelsea last month evidently hit their limit when they dropped their ask to an even $5 million back in October; not only did they hold there for the nearly six months it took to get to contract, but they refused to accept even a dollar off. That resolve was painfully bought, as the extended 17 month listing history illustrates:

Jan 26, 2015 new to market $6.95mm
Feb 25 $6mm
April 9 $5.955mm
July 31 hiatus
Sept 4 change firms $5.5mm
Oct 12 $5mm
Mar 28, 2016 contract
June 9 sold $5mm

That’s nearly a year and a half to sell, and hard selling nearly every month. Apart from the cosmetic price drop in April 2015, there were only three price changes and each one was serious: nearly a million, a half million, and then another half million. Nearly two million in total drops, achieved in just a hop, skip and a jump. The caption on this listing might be “price discovery is hard”.

While dropping the asking price by two million is clear evidence of pain (not to mention, 28%), I’ve omitted one detail from the original StreetEasy listing history: the loft was in contract off that $5.595mm asking price (the cosmetic change worked??) as of May 11, 2015. Sometimes StreetEasy gets intermediate details like that wrong, but in this case that datum is confirmed in the inter-firm database: the loft was “in contract” from May 11 until June 8, 2015 and then de-listed for two days before being brought back through July 2015. There’s no way for an outsider to the deal to know what happened, but the contract failed so (relatively) quickly to suggest this was not a coop board turndown, but some fundamental problem with the putative purchasers.

Chances are pretty good that that contract was at a higher price than the eventual deal at an even $5 million, which is another reason to suggest that the sellers were pretty firm when changing firms (with that price drop to $5.5mm) that their last price drop to $5 million would be their last. And so it was. Eventually.

trying for a home run but hitting a … double??

There’s no indication that the June 2016 sellers at $5 million significantly improved the loft after they bought it nearly four years earlier for $3.65mm. The loft then was described more for its bones than its interior finishes:

Dramatic and expansive loft with open city views in a prime Chelsea location. The open and airy Great Room has soaring 11.5′ beamed ceilings and leads to a grand, loft-style library with two walls of oversized windows that allow for brilliant southern and eastern sunlight to spill in throughout the day. The open, updated kitchen overlooks the formal dining area and living room, but also has its own large alcove for casual dining. Currently configured with 3 bedrooms plus a home office and 3 full bathrooms, the spacious Master Suite boasts an en suite master bath, a walk-in closet with custom built-ins, and 3 large windows with open views facing north. Other special features include large utility room with full-size washer/dryer, water filtration system, sound-system wiring and speakers throughout, and key-lock elevator to foyer plus separate freight elevator with direct access into loft.

The “updated” kitchen, the “custom” closet built-ins, and the water and sound systems were the only interior elements deemed worth mentioning then, and no details were added for the 2015-16 marketing campaign:

Enormous south-facing Chelsea loft in excellent condition, with open views, has three bedrooms, home office, three full bathrooms and incredibly high ceilings. Enter from your semiprivate landing into the graceful entry gallery and take in the spectacular scale of this grand space. The generous dining area leads to a large open living space with huge windows and magnificent light. Adjacent to the primary living area is a large separate media room with southeast exposure and open views. Overlooking the large living area, a generous eat-in kitchen, is perfect for those who like to entertain, featuring stainless steel appliances, two dishwashers, farmhouse sink, custom cabinets and externally vented exhaust over your eight burner range. Off the gallery leading to the master suite is a large home office, perfect for a guest room, nursery or those who need a work space. The master bedroom is truly fit for a King! With large windows and an open view to the north, there’s excellent light. A large walk-in closet will make you feel like you’re in storage heaven. Your ensuite bath has side by side sinks, separate soaking tub, shower and water closet. Secondary bedrooms are located on the opposite side of the space ensuring maximum privacy. Your private laundry room with full-size side-by-side washer and dryer

I can’t find anything different in the floor plans; here’s the current one:

still, lots of rooms, lots of doors, and that back hallway for the other bedrooms, laundry and bath

Nor do I see a difference in the listing photos, other than the filter that (probably) makes the kitchen cabinets darker in the more recent photos. (Certainly, they are the same cabinets.)

Nothing wrong with trying, but the 2012-buyers-turned-2016-sellers started out asking nearly twice what they’d paid. According to StreetEasy’s price index, the overall Manhattan residential resale market was up 29% over the nearly four years that the #6F sellers owned the loft (the damn thing is still ridiculously hard to find, and you have to hover to get the readings; I hovered for you to find August 2012 at $754,293 on the original Index, and to find April 2016 at $975,017 here; the May 2016 StreetEasy market report refers to the Index but actually cites only the Manhattan median sale price rather than the Index value … arghhh).

If you are quicker at math than I am, you’ve already figured out that the 2012-buyers-turned-2016-sellers out-performed the overall Manhattan market, as measured by the StreetEasy Price Index. You’ve at least eye-balled the result for loft #6F at more than a one-third gain (from $3.65mm in August 2012 to $5mm in June 2016), if not used the calculator to get 37%. As you know from my StreetEasy rant above, the StreetEasy Price Index was up (only!) 29% from August 2012 to April 2016.

The 17 month history and the original ask aside, out-performing The Market by that margin should have been a cause for rejoicing. But I doubt the 2012-buyers-turned-2016-sellers could turn aside so easily from the January 2015 start at $6.95mm. That’s for smart-alecky second guessers like Manhattan Loft Guy. (One of the neighbors might share a bit of their disappointment, just how much remains to be seen.)

Posted in loft neighborhoods chelsea Tagged with: , , , , , ,

TEN YEARS is a really long time on the internet (Manhattan Loft Guy anniversary!)

in the particular madness of this March, into the Wayback Machine…

This anniversary sneaks up on me some years (indeed, I’ve missed it at least once). My first post as the (self-proclaimed, fake-it-til-you-make-it) Manhattan Loft Guy was on March 19, 2006. Look away while I awkwardly pat myself on the back for sticking to this, however intermittently.


Now that we’re back, and if your memory lane is not too crowded, click on my Archives from that first month, March 2006. You’ll find ten posts in a short month, and topics from Zillow to lofts-as-fashion, to what Soho smelled like back in the day (hint: think Havana), to public schools in Tribeca.

Let’s keep doing this, ok??

Posted in internet and blogosphere Tagged with: , ,

Chelsea penthouse loft at 240 West 23 Street takes million dollar hit (or, was it a 44% hit?)

is this loft trolling Manhattan Loft Guy??

The recent sale of the “1,800 sq ft” Manhattan loft #7D at 240 West 23 Street (aka “Penthouse 7D”) for $2.2mm pushes a lot of Manhattan Loft Guy buttons. Most prominently and recently, it took nine calendar months and a very large discount to clear The Market. Then, there’s the is this low-ceilinged space really a loft?? angle. Finally (perhaps!), there’s the angle that the seller turned out to be secretly negotiable, a phrase I must have used more recently than 2011,  though I did not quickly find evidence of that. That is a lot to unpack ….

This listing history is painful:

Nov 12, 2014 new to market $3.9mm
Dec 17 hiatus
Mar 4, 2015 back on market $3.795mm
April 28 $3.648mm
May 20 hiatus
June 15 change firms $3.349mm
July 6 $3.199mm
Aug 3 contract
Jan 29, 2016 sold $2.2mm

(As people familiar with my Master List of downtown Manhattan loft sales know, I consider periods less than 90 days ‘off the market’ as part of the same marketing effort; hence my November 2014 start date, above.)

I hit the themes of long marketing and big discounts (though at a higher price point) in my recent matched set of posts, February 23 ($5 million data points: unrealistic Manhattan loft sellers or market softening?) and February 26 (more on the $5 million Manhattan loft market, a year over year look).  Loft #7D doesn’t match those examples in the length of the marketing effort, but the clearing price fro this penthouse loft was nowhere near the asking prices.

if they aimed for the top, they found the bottom of The Market

In fact, that’s only five months of active marketing to get to contract, but look at those asking prices …. This seller was rather responsive to the lack of response from The Market, with four price drops and no two prices separated by more than seven weeks. Problem was, none of these prices were anywhere near The Market.

Only the seller and her marketing teams know whether they were intentionally fishing for a well-heeled buyer who just had to have outdoor space in central Chelsea, whether they simply had no idea what this penthouse was worth, or whether there is some other real-time explanation for this history. All an informed outsider can infer is that they were extraordinarily wrong about The Market. The last asking price was 25% off the first. The deal was cut $1.7mm off the original asking price and $999,000 off the last one, discounts of 44% and 31%, respectively.

The informed outsider can also infer that something probably happened last Summer to change the seller’s approach. The sequence of asking price changes under $300,000 stopped in July. She suddenly became much more motivated to find where The Market was, without waiting to see whether another $300,000 drop (or two, or three such drops) would work; after all, the last ask of $3.199mm was only on public offer for four weeks before the final deal was struck.

the problem for a secretly negotiable seller

This sequence shows that that the seller was, in fact, much more (and secretly) negotiable than all but bottom fishers would have reasonably thought. (“Secretly negotiable” is a phrase I must have used more recently than in my November 29, 2011, secretly very negotiable penthouse loft seller at 129 West 20 Street secretly negotiates a 28% discount, but if so, I can’t find such usage.)

A seller takes some obvious risks in setting a too-high price. Why would a buyer with a budget in the mid-to-low 2s look at lofts asking more than $3 million? (I often counsel buyers not to even open web listings out of their price range for fear that their preferences will become skewed by conditions, finishes, size or other factors that they cannot afford.) Many buyers will want to know how long a listing has been available, and then think that it is ‘stale’, or be predisposed to look for things ‘wrong’ if they do go see it. And most buyers will simply not bid on listings well beyond their budget, preferring to focus on listings that are visibly in their range (a reasonable, don’t waste my time approach). But sellers say things to themselves like it only takes one, right?

Sellers are better off if there are two. And trying to attract two low-ball bidders at the same time is not quite as difficult as drawing to an inside straight, but it is … challenging.

market metaphysics in the Manhattan loft market are not different from the overall market

The hard cold market fact is that this penthouse was worth exactly $2.2mm last August … can’t argue with that. But one can wonder …. Forgive me if this seems too much like Real Estate 101, but here’s how it works.

The purpose of an asking price is to attract the highest offer from a qualified buyer. In that (strict) sense, asking $3.199mm ‘worked’. (She was in contract in four more weeks.) But I would argue that the $999,000 gap between last ask and contract price leaves open the possibility that The Market would have produced a qualified buyer at a higher price, if only that qualified buyer understood how negotiable the seller actually was. (My aggressive sellers hear from me “The Market is much better at correcting a too-low price than it is a too-high price“, as often as necessary.)

I’d bet a quarter (that’s $0.25) that a buyer could have been found above $2.2mm off an asking price of $2.75mm, but I can neither collect that bet nor be forced to pay out. Indeed, I’d double that bet that a buyer could have been found above $2.2mm if the asking price had been dropped to $2.2mm. (In other words, that there would have been a bidding war, even after all those price drops.) You can find examples of this dynamic in the downtown Manhattan loft market by looking for loft sales on my Master List of downtown Manhattan loft sales that have a green selling price (green for above ask) without having a blue first asking price (blue for no change in price); some of these are dramatic.

I hit a few of these from time to time, when The Market is right and when I have a particular jones for this phenomenon. Once I started looking for ‘a few’ examples it was difficult to stop.

See, for example,

Surely you get the point … I must stop ….

can you have a not-loft in a loft building?

Finally (!), there’s the is this low-ceilinged space really a loft?? angle to poke Manhattan Loft Guy in the eye. This (originally) 18-unit building tends to have small units, as do many residential loft buildings converted to coop in the early 1980s. We’ve been at this post for along time by now, so let’s make this quick….

The building is clearly a loft building, one with a prior life as a manufacturing facility, or with some other commercial usage.

nope: not built abut 100 years ago as a residence

Penthouse #7D is on the top floor, and above, in rooftop space not visible from the street. That sort of structure leads to not very loft-y rooms like this bedroom:

A small loft on the third floor looks very loft-y:

#3A is only “1,170 sq ft”, but recognizably a loft

A true penthouse (to purists snobs like me) contains space built on the roof, with a different feel from the ‘proper’ floors of the building. That sense of difference between the penthouse units and units on other floors is enhanced in a building like 240 West 23 Street, in which ceiling height is lower at the top of the building than on the lower floors. (See the building pic above, again.)

This can lead to metaphysical questions such as can you have a non-loft in a loft building?, and other distracting taxonomy questions. The only response that can keep me sane is to treat all units in a loft building as lofts, regardless of how different they may be compared to their ‘proper’ neighbors. If you are intrigued by metaphysics or taxonomy, consider these Manhattan Loft Guy blasts from the past:

With that, back to March Madness ….

Posted in loft neighborhoods chelsea Tagged with: , , , ,

more on the $5 million Manhattan loft market, a year over year look

difficulty at the $5 million level is not a new phenomenon for Manhattan lofts

My post on Tuesday considered whether the December string of downtown Manhattan lofts that took a long time to sell around $5 million that I noticed on my Master List of Manhattan Loft Sales suggest3ed that there was some softening in that market segment, or merely reflected a particular bunch of unrealistic sellers. That February 23 post, $5 million data points: unrealistic Manhattan loft sellers or market softening?, offered 18 data points, lofts that sold between October 1, 2015 and January 31, 2016 that had been offered originally at $4.5mm or more, eight of which sold for at least a 10% discount to the original asking price. See that post for the details, and my musings about What It Means (or, whether it means anything).

When dealing with a niche market (downtown lofts), then further slicing to a narrow price range (starting at / above $4.5mm, selling at / below $6mm), the data get … thin. Which is one reason blogging in real time is a fraught enterprise. Even within a niche of the Manhattan residential real estate market, having only some data always leads to other questions, or begs for a broader context. I used The Miller’s quarterly report for the overall Manhattan market for some context, but that yielded few direct correlations. Another way to broaden the context would be to see how the Tuesday data set of 18 loft sales compares to other time periods.

The two tables below match the tables from Tuesday’s post, this time with 24 data points that provide a year-over-year context, ten in the table of lofts that sold at least 10% below their first ask and 14 that didn’t need such a haircut. (Compared to eight and ten on Tuesday.) These 24 lofts sold between October 1, 2014 and January 31, 2015 and all but one started asking $4.5mm or more (like my Tuesday set); the one exception started lower but sold just above $4.5mm so is fair to consider when looking at the market “around $5 million”.

First the tables, then the talk. (As on Tuesday, “[r]epeat after me: anecdota are not data. But a series of anecdotes are data points.”) The unhappier set of ten:

sold on price DoM 1st ask discount
144 West 18 St #6E  Jan 29, 2015 $4.45mm   97 $4.95mm 10.1%
474 Greenwich St #4S   Jan 23 $2.95mm 429 $4.75mm 37.9%
105 East 16 St #5 Jan 22 $5.125mm 164 $5.95mm 13.9%
62 Cooper Square #4A  Dec 23, 2014 $4.6mm 298 $6mm 23.3%
738 Broadway #2 Dec 23 $3.85mm 295 $6mm 35.8%
17 East 16 St #6 Dec 19 $4.35mm 51 $5mm 13%
117 East 24 St #8 Nov 20 $5.6mm 588 $6.5mm 13.8%
195 Hudson St #2C Oct 20 $4.08mm 94 $4.995mm 18.3%
481 Greenwich St #5B Oct 6  $3.95mm  ??  $5.15mm 23.3%
35 West 23 St #3 Oct 1  $3.75mm 367  $4.925mm 23.9%

The happier set of 14:

sold on price DoM 1st ask
155 Franklin St #3N Jan 30, 2015 $5.52mm   137 $6mm
225 Fifth Av #6K Jan 29 $4.6mm 37 $4.5mm
73 Worth St #2B Jan 29 $4.6mm 49 $4.995mm
144 West 18 St #2W Jan 28 $5.6mm 8 $5.5mm
15 West 24 St #6 Jan 23 $5.5mm   91 $6mm
28 Laight St #3E   Jan 12 $5.35mm 213 $5.75mm
144 Franklin St #3 Dec 23, 2014 $5.425mm 26 $4.75mm
429 Greenwich St #2C Dec 19 $4.895mm 85 $4.895mm
62 Cooper Square #2T Dec 3 $4.78mm 19 $4.995mm
30 Bond St #PH Nov 19 $5.35mm 86 $5.5mm
53 Greene St #3  Nov 4  $6mm 172  $6.34mm
345 West 14 St #4F  Oct 20  $5.5mm 41 $5.5mm
15 West 24 St #11  Oct 16  $5.45mm  142  $6mm
140 Sullivan St #5  Oct 14 $4.506mm  50  $3.9mm

Again, a couple of notes, always remembering that these two sets and Tuesday’s more current pair may simply be too small for firm conclusions:

(a) It can (still! always!!) take a long time to sell Manhattan lofts that are over-priced.

(b) While the current set of happier sales (from the seller perspective) included several that took a long time to sell, even though being priced reasonably close to their clearing price (Days on Market in that set of ten of two included 477 days, 363 days, 223 days, and 171 days), a year earlier the happier set of 14 included ten that took three months or less to find a contract, while none of the other four took as long to contract a year ago as the three longest of the current set.

(c) While ten of the 18 current set took at least a half year to contract, only six of the Unhappy Set and one of the Happy Set a year ago took at least that long, or seven of 24 in total (while I don’t know exactly when 481 Greenwich St #5B went into contract, it is clear from our data-base that it had to be at least that long). Whether the difference between 10/18 and 7/24 is meaningful to you may be a matter of taste, or of statistical relevance above my pay grade.

In Tuesday’s post I looked for context to The Miller and his Days on Market comparisons from his Manhattan Market Report for the last quarter of 2015. He found (using a different way to measure Days on Market) that the overall Manhattan residential market was quicker in the Fourth Quarter of 2015 than the same quarter in 2014 (82 days v. 105 days), while his “luxury” niche (the upper 10% of sale prices) was also quicker recently (150 days v. 160 days). Whether  statistically significant or not, I find the downtown Manhattan loft niche around $5 million to present the opposite trend, largely driven by the relatively quick success of the low-or-no-discount lofts from October 2014 through January 2015.

Not to go all Tolstoy on you, but last year’s data sets suggest that happy loft sales were substantially alike (nearly all were relatively quick, four sold above ask and two at ask), while unhappy loft sales (needing the big discounts) were likely unhappy in different ways. I suspect that was especially true last year, with two of the unhappy lofts needing one-third off and four more nearly a quarter off. The happy ones largely sailed through The Market.

Offered for your consideration … draw your own conclusions. And continue to watch this space ….

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About the guy at Manhattan Loft Guy

Sandy Mattingly has been Manhattan Loft Guy since March 2006. The Guy thinks out loud in real time on The Blog about the loft niche in the Manhattan residential real estate market, often via a post about a specific loft that recently sold, how the transaction fits into market trends, what is interesting (weird!) about the loft, and how that sale fits into past sales in the building. Perhaps the most unusual resource is unique to Manhattan Loft Guy: a Master List of downtown Manhattan lofts that have sold since November 2008 from $500,000 to $5,000,000. Now a Licensed Associate RE Broker with The Corcoran Group (as “Charles M. Mattingly” at 524 Broadway, NY, NY 10012), the content, opinions, errors (real-time blogging is sometimes not pretty), and snark are all his (scroll down for the disclaimer).

Of course, The Guy’s day job is helping buyers and sellers one-to-one and he can be reached most easily at, or 917.902.2491, and followed on Twitter and FaceBook (see buttons, coming, above). In real life, he’s bought and lived in lofts in developing Manhattan residential areas going back to “Tribeca” in 1981 (back in the day, indeed) and believes in service. He’s been on the board and head of the parents association of one of the largest NYC private schools, chair of the pastoral council of his Chelsea parish, and lay trustee of that parish; currently he sits on the board of a 501(c)(3) social outreach mission, serves on the alumni council of his alma mater, and is proud to be a kidney donor (you can’t take it with you: see donation information here).

The Corcoran Disclaimer: “Equal Housing Opportunity. This website is not the official website of The Corcoran Group or its affiliated companies, and neither The Corcoran Group nor its affiliated companies in any way warrant the accuracy of any information contained herein. Any property or services offered for sale on this website shall not be considered an offer to sell such goods or services in any state other New York.”