129 West 22 Street loft seller rewarded by 24% in 26 months for not renovating

a paired resale analysis
Every “arm’s length” sale is a snapshot of the agreement that a buyer and a seller made about the value of a property at a particular point in time. Econ 101, right? And a pair of such snapshots of the same property at two different points in time tends to show movement. It is those snapshots and that movement that provide the most meaningful data points in The Market. Which is a pedantic way to introduce to you the “2,100 sq ft” Manhattan loft
#5A at 129 West 22 Street, which recently sold at $1.92mm, 26 months after selling for $1.55mm. Count this as hard data, but not for the proposition that the overall Manhattan residential real estate market is up 24% in two years.

You’d think that if the loft had undergone a transformation after being purchased on March 23, 2011 for $1.55mm, or even a slight improvement, the listing broker would have thought to mention that when bringing it back to market on February 17, 2013. There’s no sign of that in the most recent broker babble, which is peppered with words like “spacious” and “boutique” (about the building, of course) and “classic” (about the block) and “expansive” (the living space) and “enormous” (the Master Bathroom) and “intimate” (the”Loft experience”), while explicitly “boasting” about the “19′ dining area and open kitchen area”. Not a thing about “renovated” or “meticulous” or “recent”, and not a proper proper name to be dropped, about finishes, appliances, or materials.

As Joe Biden might put it, the
current floor plan is literally identical to the then-current floor plan from 2011, including the “(Current Floor Plan)” notation. The 2011-buyers-turned-2013-sellers put in track lighting in the kitchen and living room, added a light fixture over the dining table, and removed the kitchen cabinet doors, but if there is any other change from 2011 to 2013, I can’t see it in the photos or between the lines of the listings. (Speaking of between the lines of the listings, I have already listed the faint praise with which the 2013 babble damned the loft, but the 2011 version was more direct: “extraordinary opportunity to create your own LOFT in Chelsea”.)

Net-net, the 2013 buyers were looking at the same  “extraordinary opportunity” that their  sellers had, but passed on. That would include updating (at least) the rather dated kitchen (taking off the cabinet doors was a nice head fake) and (likely) the two baths, which neither listing agent thought to picture as part of the sales effort.

That still-current current floor plan is the only sensible way to fit 3 bedrooms into this not very flexible “2,100 sq ft” footprint, absent a gut renovation that moved the master bath and kitchen. There’s the “charm” of the place (at least, it’s attraction): 3 bedrooms under $2mm. But isn’t that 3rd bedroom in an awkward place? It really cuts down the volume in the main living area, which would be 25 feet and 4 windows wide without that appendage.


a contender for the Babbling Hall of Fame
I skipped over a “classic” claim in the current broke babble, above. That fuzzy word also appears in this sentence:

Unique for a Classic loft, there are 12 full sized closets throughout the apartment including several extra storage nooks.

I don’t know what else to say, except that the claim that no other classic loft in Manhattan has 12 closets is rather … er … classic.

a weakness in our data system
The StreetEasy listing data has an anomalous sequence:


Feb 17 new to market $1.75mm
Mar 12 contract  
May 1   $1.92mm
May 15 sold $1.92mm


Sadly, this is not a StreetEasy problem, but one from the listing firm (alas, Corcoran). A well-designed listings system would freeze the asking price when a contract is signed, but ours permitted the listing agent to update the price well after the parties were locked into their deal to make it appear (on quick look) as though the asking price had been $1.92mm and that this was a full price deal, rather than a bidding war result. Why someone would want to do that, I have no idea; but as someone who tries to follow real events in the real market in real time, that irritates me. (I ignored the late [fake] price change for my Master List of Manhattan Lofts Sold Since November 2008.)

Back to the beginning: the 2011 buyers at $1.55mm just sold at $1.92mm without doing a darn (significant) thing to a primitive loft. That’s a market outlier to measure market strength then and now, but $370,000 (gross) in their pockets, and 24% worth of bad trending for buyers in Chelsea.


© Sandy Mattingly 2013


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