233 West 26 Street loft closes up 13% over 2008 (!) but down 6% since 2006 (!!)

‘tis a puzzlement
The last three times the “1,450 sq ft” duplex Manhattan loft #1E at 233 West 26 Street sold, the clearing prices from bottom to top were $1.33mm, $1.25mm, and $1.11mm. The dates from old to new were January 18, 2006, March 13, 2008, and October 24, 2012. But unless you skipped over the headline you already know that the low price of three was the middle date and the high price was the early date. Details about what you can’t see on StreetEasy will follow, but believe me that the loft was in the same condition each of these times that it sold.

Once again, for repetition is the mother of memory:

  • January 18, 2006 $1.33mm
  • March 13, 2008 $1.11mm
  • October 24, 2012 $1.25mm

You can see the fllor plan and listig description for last month’s sale on StreetEasy, but you will have to go to the DE link for photos. (I am going to miss referring to that firm as “PruDE”; sigh.) It is easy to see that the marketing campaign leading to that March 2008 sale (on StreetEasy, of course) has an identical floor plan, similar broker babble (with overlapping proper proper names and materials), and similar photos as the recent campaign. (StreetEasy has the fact that it sold that March, but not the price; that was a Corcoran listing, our system has it selling for that $1.11mm on March 13, 2008.)

You’ll have to take my word for the marketing details leading to the 2006 recorded sale that StreetEasy has without an associated listing; from our listing system:

May 13, 2005 new to market $1.995mm
June 3   $1.495mm
Aug 1   $1.365mm
Oct 17 contract  
January 18, 2006 sold $1.33mm

The pictures and floor plan in our system for 2005 match those of 2008 and 2012 (the kitchen pix match even down to the light fixtures over the island). The 2005 babble is spare, but consistent with the later iterations, with one bit of detail I have to marvel at (and italicize):

closets galore, 11 to 13 foot ceilings, and private entrance to lower level. Special Features: Gourmet kitchen featuring Thermador & Miele, and custom master bath with stall shower for six! Dramatic raised living room, …. This live/work/play home must be seen.

I am going to make only a half-hearted attempt to explain this, after revisiting the Department of Redundancy Department:

  • January 18, 2006 $1.33mm
  • March 13, 2008 $1.11mm
  • October 24, 2012 $1.25mm

(bad) luck, or (a lack of) skill?
Make that a quarter-hearted attempt: I would argue that the least rational number is that first one, and guess (quarter-heartedly) that the terribly stubborn seller pulled one over on the buying public by appearing to be reasonable by dropping (all the way down) to $1.365mm as the market was frothing up. Look, that TSS said, a 30+% discount! The 2006 buyers were persuaded, at least to the extent that they capitulated with a TSS as the only way to own this loft in not-quite-prime Chelsea.

I can almost persuade myself that this (fantasized) narrative about what happened in 2005-06 can almost be reconciled with the recent clearing price of $1.25mm; after all, the narrative is that those 2006 buyers simply overpaid for something they really wanted.

But I can’t fit the 2008 sale into anything that even formally holds together. Of course, prices recorded in the overall Manhattan residential real estate market in the 11 weeks prior to the $1.11mm sale and for 2weeks after represent The Peak in that overall Manhattan market. I can’t even fantasize a narrative about how desperate the 2006-buyers-turned-2008-sellers, because they started asking only $1.195mm. (I would have expected more desperate sellers to start higher and drop quickly and often, is my only point on that.)

Not to be personal about it, and hoping not to offend them or their friends, but the only ‘explanation’ may be that these 2006-buyers-turned-2008-sellers were simply both the worst buyers in 2006 and the worst sellers in 2008 in the overall Manhattan market.

Or, less personally offensive, we can just blame it on The Market being The Market. Ain’t no explanation.

Just as there’s no explanation for having only a powder room on the bedroom level, where there seems to be room to fit a shower, and where you can invite your friends to shower in that 6-person unit up the spiral stairs. Sigh.

© Sandy Mattingly 2012

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