no view needed to sell small 252 Seventh Avenue lofts at $1,339/ft, or at $1,593/ft

back to the Loft Lab that is the Chelsea Mercantile
In my December 3, how to value light without also valuing views? The Miller gives it a shot, NY Magazine gives it a forum, I wondered just how many Manhattan lofts threaded the narrow needle of having valuable light without having valuable views, in buildings in which the differences can be measured. Regular readers of Manhattan Loft Guy know that I have often used sales at the iconic Chelsea Mercantile condominium (the condo that made a neighborhood!) to examine the value of views, but sales there might also be a way to test The Miller’s approach to valuing light-without-views. Two November sales of small Merc lofts may help.

The “971 sq ft” no-bedroom (interior ‘office’ only) Manhattan loft #3M at 252 Seventh Avenue sold on November 20 for $1.3mm after a short and sweet marketing campaign: to market on August 15 at $1.335mm, in contract by September 13, and sold at that $1,339/ft 3 weeks ago. Despite a wall of “huge tilt-and-turn windows” and 13 foot ceilings, there is no bragging about light or views in the broker babble, and no hint in the photos that this was a mistake.

In contrast, the “992 sq ft” loft #5C ended a slightly different but even more successful campaign on November 9 by closing at $1.58mm, or $1,593/ft (to market on July 26 at $1.595mm, in contract by August 17). Despite overlooking the building’s interior courtyard (a no-view ‘view’, if there ever was one), loft #5C was babbled as “sunny”. Unfortunately for this bit of Miller-riffing, there are other differences between #3M and #5C that are more likely to account for the $245,000 in value than the “sunny” courtyard outside #5C.

They both have single exposures, but loft #5C has a long wall of windows in a footprint that sold with a 1-bedroom floor plan and that could be squeezed into a 2-bedroom by a buyer needing that utility and willing to shrink the public area of the loft. Proving that not all square feet are created equal, and unfortunately for loft #3M, that single wall of windows is at the narrow end of that floor plan (hence the no-bedroom, interior ‘office’ only layout). In the same building and with finishes that appear and read as essentially identical, one “992 sq ft” loft could hardly look and feel more different from another “971 sq ft” loft.

So this pair of Merc sales is not the best way to riff with The Miller about light-without-views. Sigh.

once more into the breach…
But because this building is such a Manhattan Loft Guy fave, we don’t have to go back very far for more rich material. In my June 21, small loft sale at 252 Seventh Avenue is another double-sided bold name transaction, I profiled a then-recent sale of a Merc loft of similar size, and used another similar loft in the building as a comp. Now that you know that I’b like to Miller-riff over light-without-view lofts, imagine my pleasure on seeing the subhead I used for this paragraph about the June 6 sale of the “1,001 sq ft” Manhattan loft #7N at 252 Seventh Avenue at $1.295mm ($1,294/ft):

east light, no view

We do have a way to put the recent sale at $1,295/ft [oops: should be $1,294/ft] within the 2012 micro-market at The Merc, of course, as I have done a series of posts about the ways that views (or their lack) sharply influence values here, ranging from courtyard “views” around $1,040/ft to Statue of Liberty views at $1,730/ft. Loft #7N looks at neither pole, but boasts of an “Eastern exposure [that] fills the apartment with sunlight from 4 extra-large Thermopane tilt-and-turn windows”. Note that it says nothing about what is outside those windows, beyond light, but that is the 12-story 245 Seventh Avenue across the street from the Merc in the lead picture.

Loft #7N comps nicely with loft #3M, as both are no-bedroom, interior ‘office’ only. The light-filled #7N went for $1,294/ft in June; #3M for $1,339/ft with no bragging about light. Hmmm … that doesn’t help assign a higher value for light, does it? At least not until we established if there has been a general market increase at The Merc from June to November, which is more work than I want to do to prove a small point today.

Of course, comping is not easy, right? I compared that small Merc loft sale in June 2012 to one in November 2011:

Probably the most interesting comparable sale for #7N at $1,295/ft [$1,294/ft] was #4J at $1,283/ft on November 1, 2011, a sale I hit in my November 22, 2011,uber-renovated (?) loft at Chelsea Mercantile sells 7% above Peak. That one is actually a 1-bedroom + home office, as opposed to #7N as just a home office, and boasts more about light (“sunblasted“) than views, like #7N. As that title says, #4J was uber-renovated (the locution is from the babble, not from me).Yet the sunblasted+uber-4J sold for a tiny bit less than the filled-with-light 7N.

Maybe there is no precise way to discern a babbled difference of “light filled” compared to “sun-blasted”. But in that pair of Merc sales, #4J has the preferred layout (1-BR+office v. just office) yet sold at essentialy the same dollar-per-foot value.

Going year-over-year, the November 2011 sun-blasted #4J could not match the no-light-bragging #3M in November 2012 on a dollar-per-foot basis, even though #4J had a real bedroom.

Did I mention that

  • comping is hard?
  • The Merc seems to be enjoying higher values in the mini-loft market of late?
  • riffing with The Miller is fun, but complicated?

Yes, yes, and yes. Stop me before I digress (again)….

© Sandy Mattingly 2012

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