151 West 28 Street loft sells at $694/ft, $400,000 short of triple mint

the value of a dream
The recent sale of the “1,845 sq ft”* Manhattan loft #2W at 151 West 28 Street (Groff Studio) is a rather clean indication of how The Market values condition, as its create-your-dream marketing campaign competed directly with an upstairs neighbor’s campaign to sell essentially the same layout in a fully realized dreamlike condition. The verdict? The Market valued the no-renovation-required loft in July as worth at least $400,000 more than the dreamy loft last month.

it is nice to have comps
The comparison between loft #2W and loft #4W is not perfect, as the two lofts differ in more than condition. There is a 250 sq ft “patio” attached to #2W, but the degree to which this outdoor space commands a market premium is limited by being at the bottom of a mid-block canyon (no views; direct sunlight only at the height of summer?). Plus, you’d expect some market deficit for #2W having those huge south windows just one floor up from the sidewalk and street traffic on what remains a very gritty commercial street.

For present purposes I am content to assume that the second floor negative is more than offset in market value by the limited positive value of the patio, without getting more granular than that. Let’s not spoil an otherwise very parallel pair of sales by focusing unduly on those differences.

pre-dream vs. post-dream
The key part of the #2W broker babble is this:

in move-in condition, though many will consider upgrading the space to make a dream home

In other words, there is nothing wrong with the loft but there is not much to brag about either. Note how modest this list of brag-worthy indoor elements is (and how much I have distorted ‘brag-worthy’):

10’4" ceilings … key-locked elevator … sunny south-facing windows … gorgeous polished concrete floors … a wall of exposed brick…. a 36" professional Wolf Range

The #4W babble is on a different level entirely:

Architecturally renovated 2 bedrooms, 2 bath mint 1,845 sqft NYC loft in Chelsea with 10’ high ceilings and oversized windows. Step directly off the elevator and a large entry foyer leads to the living room framed by the large industrial metal windows, and the dining area accented by a beautiful wall cabinet built out of Japanese Sen wood. A true Chef’s open gourmet stainless steel and wood kitchen enhanced with a Viking 4 burner stove with griddle and grill as well as double ovens. Running the entire length of the loft is the gallery wall and at the end a floating Vitsoe wall unit from Moss/Soho

In other words, I will see your 36” Wolf range and raise with 4-burner+grill+griddle Viking and other chef-y kitchen elements, at which point you can only dream about the other finishes in #4W.

It is very likely that anyone who saw one of these lofts from February to May also saw the other. Loft #4W was the first to market, and the first to sell:

Nov 18, 2010 new to market $1.825mm
Dec 7 hiatus  
Feb 4, 2011 back on market  
Mar 17   $1.735mm
May 20 contract  
July 29 sold $1.675mm

Loft #2W was available for 12 weeks while #4W was also available, during which time someone who did not love the #4W finishes could do the math to see what a post-renovation #2W would cost, and those with more limited budget could assess whether they could simply move in to #2W and defer the dream:

Feb 26 for sale by owner $1.5mm
Mar 31 firm hired $1.395mm
May 14   $1.295mm
July 27 contract  
Nov 9 sold $1.25mm

The Market weighed, compared, and contrasted. The difference in condition between these two lofts was worth at least $425,000, or $230/ft, remembering the slight net premium value for the patio. That strikes me as a relatively high premium for condition, considering that #2W is already fully plumbed and wired, suggesting that either #4W is really much better than “mint” and #2W is barely “move-in” or that the market punished #2W more than other buy-gut+renovate lofts (such as in my December 1, primitive loft at 16 Crosby Street sells above ask under $900/ft, and in my ). The similar case in Tribeca may be this one from my October 10, 20-26 N. Moore Street loft comps out needing $200/ft renovation.

Loft #2W did not, however, take as big a hit as the nearby build-a-loft in my November 15, old news, as build-a-loft takes 2 years to sell for $646/ft at 129 West 22 Street. This pair at 151 West 28 Street is the opposite side of the coin from the TLC pair I hit 14 blocks south in my December 8, another loft sale at 116 West 14 Street shows that TLC is cheaper than you’d think.  The Soho lofts I hit in my July 29, prime Soho original artist loft at 100 Wooster sells immediately for $600/ft, and in my July 21, no mistaking the condition of artist loft at 184 Grand Street that sold for $710/ft, needed much more work than #2W, are in much more prime loft neighborhoods, yet sold in the same range as #2W. With that, I will stop going in that direction, to allow time for one more digression….

fun fact
The #2W sellers already own #5W, which they bought as a … (wait for it) … buy-gut+build 3 years ago at almost the same price at which they just sold #2W. I would guess that they live there.
* I see no difference in the interior footprints of #2W or #4W, and I choose to use the claimed “1,845 sq ft” of #4W for both instead of “1,800 sq ft” as with #2W, and instead of using different numbers for each.

© Sandy Mattingly 2011


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