213 West 23 Street loft takes what the market gives (28% off original ask)

when is a quick sale not a quick sale?
To look at the recent marketing history, the Manhattan loft #5N at 213 West 23 Street was a pretty quick sale: to market September 8 at $3.695mm, contract by November 2, sold on November 22 for $3.4mm. In and out of the market, cash in hand, in 75 days at only an 8% discount. But the seller was probably much more relieved than happy about the sale, as that “to market September 8” followed nearly 5 months of being off the market, after this loft had been offered for sale pretty much continuously from July 2008 into May 2010. That’s 22 months of being bashed by The Market followed by a renewed, successful, and brief campaign.

Despite that 75 day success story, this loft in the old McBurney Y is just not in the  same class as the loft I hit yesterday that really did fly off the shelf, cash in hand within 89 days. (December 12, 117 West 17 Street loft flies off the shelf, but was the terrace free?) Those sellers might have been pressed for time to pack; this seller … not so much.

another Manhattan Loft Guy poster child?
With an original asking price of $4.75mm in July 2008, the successful campaign succeeded at a 28% discount. When it left the market on May 18, the ask was $3.725mm; when it came back for that oh-so-brief run on September 8, the ask was reduced only $30,000. I can’t help but think that this listing history is the poster child for the cruel perspective hindsight provides for examining the conundrum in my November 15 post, flight or fight? the disappointed seller’s conundrum, 30 East 21 Street and 205 West 19 Street lofts edition. The trivial price drop of $30,000 from May to September had nothing to do with the successful negotiation, but giving a 22 month old listing a 5 month hiatus off the market almost certainly did.

Argentina’s tears
Lest you are tempted to feel that this seller, abused as she was by The Market, was tragically abused, please note that the November 2010 seller was the original purchaser from the sponsor in October 2005 … for … $2,749,275. Given that history, the most interesting number about the recent sale is not the 28% discount from the July 2008 asking price, but the $650,725 (24%) gain in five topsy-turvy years.

Might she have done better if priced differently in the three month window before Lehman’s bankruptcy? Very likely. But she wasn’t, and she didn’t.

nice shape
The loft is “3,750 sq ft” in a nearly square footprint, with east and west exposures, with 15 windows running up and down the full length of those sides. That flexibility allows for three bedrooms with one dimension of nearly 17 feet, a kitchen that is 25 feet wide, and a truly great great room of 51 x 19 feet with 3 windows at each end. In an embarrassment of riches, the laundry/mechanical room is 18 x 11 feet, the size of a nicely proportioned but modest living room in a classic prewar apartment.

This former YMCA has come a long way since the sponsor sales in 2005. The closest sale to The Peak was #3S in December 2007, which cleared at $4,914,000 for “3,600 sq ft” ($1,365/ft) after a bidding war. The only sale in the building between #3S in December 2007 and #5N in November 2010 was #8S in September 2009 at $3.5mm for the “4,128 sq ft” that were the old basketball courts at the Y (18 foot ceilings), if memory serves.

how do you spell O-U-C-H?
That #8S sale is fascinating in its own right. The $3.5mm clearing price in September 2009 was a 20% discount from the last asking price and a nearly 40% discount from the first asking price in February 2009. More interesting still, the September 2009 seller bought #8S on November 7, 2005 for $4,582,125 from the guy who bought directly from the sponsor
that very same day for … (wait for it) … $1,973,869. That first sales price looks so low as to possibly be an insider price (you will recall that the sponsor sold #5N for $2,749,275), but if you have any tears left you might consider that #8S seller. He paid $4,582,125 in October 2005 and got $3.5mm in September 2009. That is harsh enough (and the numbers are easy enough) that I will not even bother to quantify that loss. o.u.c.h.

meanwhile, back in #5N…
The Manhattan Loft Guy take-away from the sale of #5N is that this wonderfully square loft is a poster child for The Disappointed Seller’s Conundrum, yet says something about the human spirit. At least, that part of the human spirit concerned with Manhattan residential real estate, and the resiliency of a seller hanging in there to (eventually) take what The Market offers, after 22 long months of disappointment and a 5 month hiatus.

Even if that market price was 28% less than her original hopes for a sale.

© Sandy Mattingly 2010


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