8 months to contract at 6.5% discount for 151 West 17 Street loft

did Conventional Wisdom takes another shot to the head, or did CW slip the punch?
You know the Conventional Wisdom about asking prices and time: that a listing professionally exposed to The Market for enough time without having selling is at the wrong price, and that it will need a price drop to generate a deal. The “1,663 sq ft” Manhattan loft #5H at 151 West 17 Street in northern building of the twinned Campiello Collection in Chelsea is not a case in point, for the reason stated in the headline. But there is an explanation for why CW did not take such a big hit here:

Feb 3, 2011 new to marke $1.899mm
June 6   $1.85mm
July 3 hiatus  
Sept 12 back  
Oct 4 contract  
Jan 5, 2012 sold $1.775mm

indulge me here, please
If we can agree that the two asking prices, only 2.6% apart, are essentially the same then the point is more clear. Otherwise, we are looking at 4 weeks of marketing at $1.85mm, then a break, then only another 3 weeks to get a contract. Nothing slow about that part of the sequence. But if we agree that the price drop was purely cosmetic, then we add another 13 weeks to the pre-break marketing.

Four months (of active marketing) to contract is not very long, so there’s not much reason to worry too much about whether Conventional Wisdom was right here or not. I stated to, but that was from seeing the gap between the on market and contract dates. I guess this turns into another blog post about views….

proportions + southern exposure, but windows with bricks + windows
Sometimes it appears that loft-y broker babble includes verbiage like “unbelievable room proportions” as filler, as if the agent could not think of something other ways to talk about a space. After all, in old school lofts, the walls are mere concepts; if you don’t like where they are, move them to someplace you do. But the Campiello Collection is not an old school loft, but a 2002 new construction. (I will leave for another day whether new construction like this should properly considered “lofts”.)

The “1,663 sq ft” loft #5H floor plan is a very efficient 2-BR+2-bath layout. For fans of large sleeping areas, there are “unbelievable room proportions” (the 2nd BR is 15’8”x13’1”), but the public space suffers proportionately. A living room of 21’8”x14’10” is hardly “unbelievable” as far as loft living room proportions go, even in a space under 1,700 sq ft.

The sense of space is enhanced, no doubt, by the big windows in the public space and the master suite. But look at what you can see from those windows! From the living room, along the west (pic #1)? The #5H bedroom windows, plus red brick. From the master (pic #4), those same bricks look more brown. The only due south ‘view’ is seen by peering between the slats of the blinds in the 2nd bedroom (pic #5) at the windows in the lofts in the other building that makes up the Campiello Collection.

In simple terms, these are courtyard/garden ‘views’ with whatever southern light makes it down to the 5th floor in a 12 story pair of buildings. It might have been marketed the way yesterday’s loft just down the block on 18th Street was marketed: the “no view” campaign helped in that case (see my February16, no view loft at 120 West 18 Street sells at $905/ft, reveals what neighbor’s roof is worth). But they went with the emphasis on “unbelievable room proportions”, and got a contract after 4 months of marketing at only 6.5% off where they started, so I should not quibble.

some courtyard views are more expensive than others
The last time I blogged about the Campiello Collection was only 6 weeks ago, in my January 4, 151 West 17 Street loft sells up 9% in 16 months. That post focused on the (relatively) short-term (relatively) large gain for a 6th floor unit in the other building in the Collection that has a 17th Street (south) exposure in the master, but north exposures (courtyard/garden!) from the 2nd bedroom and living room (floor plan here).

To say that #6A in December at $1,278/ft and #5H in January at $1,067/ft are fascinating comps for each other is just to admit that I cannot reconcile them.

Both are 2-bedroom layouts that would be hard pressed to find a third bedroom, though #6A has an extra half-bath. If (as I agreed above) #5H has “unbelievable room proportions”, than #6A needs an intensifier to make the same point (“truly unbelievable room proportions”?? not like those other guys). The “1,917 sq ft” #6A is 15% larger than #5H, with only the obvious additional benefit of the half-bath, yet it sold for $675,000 more, or 20% more on a price per foot basis.

(head-scratching break)

I can’t find that premium in the floor plan or the finishes (the respective babbling is similar), or in the views or light. I can’t find any premium there, let alone a 20% premium.

I assume that people looking for 2-bedroom lofts in this building last Fall saw both #5H and #6A. Loft #6A started on September 8 and was in contract by October 20; #5H came back to market on September 12 and was in contract by October 4.

I (almost) give up.

how do you feel about walking in between the kitchen and the dining table?
There is one floor plan deficit for #5H that may be a love-it-or-hate-it element for some buyers: the loft front door is right next to the kitchen, such that you walk past the kitchen island on the way to the bedrooms in back. (You see this array in a fair number of lofts, but it is not typical.) The lines are straight and narrow enough that the kid coming home during the parents’ dinner party will have to walk through the dinner to escape to private space in the bedroom.

I have never attempted to measure how much of a market deficit this kind of floor plan is, and am doubtful you could even do that. But this comparison of #5H and #6A makes me wonder why #5H was punished by The Market. (It also inclines me more strongly to believe that the #6A buyer overpaid, but that is another issue.)

Your thoughts on the layout issue, dear readers?

© Sandy Mattingly 2012


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