One Bed Wonder loft at 129 West 20 Street sells modestly over $1,000/ft, despite custom finishes

don’t tell Ann Sacks

The “1,626 sq ft” Manhattan loft #3A at 129 West 20 Street (the Chelsea Quarter) was all dressed up when it sold earlier this month, with (as the broker babbes) “beautiful features and lux finishes, handsome in every respect with no detail overlooked”. Yet it barely cleared $1,000/ft and essentially matched a neighbor’s sale that may (no insult intended) may have overlooked a few details.

The history, by itself, is not so disappointing:

Oct 18, 2011 new to market $1.85mm
Nov 15   $1.75mm
Dec 20 contract  
Mar 5, 2012 sold  $1,665,000

That’s a contract within 2 months at a 10% discount from the original ask; again, not so obviously disappointing. But here are some of the details that were not overlooked in loft #3A:

  • “gourmet kitchen” with custom cabinets and lighting, stainless steel appliances, granite countertops, Ann Sacks back-splash and tile
  • master bath with limestone and sandstone* finishes
  • doors and room dividers in imported solid Brazilian hardwood
  • designer built-ins with custom hardware
  • custom closet interiors, drapery and shades

I don’t see all those details in the babble for #5A:

  • “chef’s kitchen”, with granite countertops and stainless steel appliances
  • custom glass pocket doors in the alcove guest room/home office
  • sliding custom Shoji screens in the master suite walk-in closet

(*Our data-base shows that these units all started with wide sandstone master bath, so the master baths may actually be identical.)

Loft #5A needed only one price to make a deal almost exactly a year ago:

Jan 4, 2011 new to market $1.75mm
Mar 14 contract  
Mar 22 sold $1,647,500

That is a spread of $17,500 in favor of #3A, at 1% a rounding error. Loft #3A got nothing for the custom kitchen cabinets and lighting, nothing for the Brazilian doors and room dividers, nothing for the designer built-ins, nothing for the custom closets, drapery and shades, and nothing for the Ann Sacks backsplash and tiles. At least nothing above an even trade for a custom Shoji screen and custom glass doors.

Maybe that is a correct result arithmetically based on the extra dollars invested in each loft, but I bet the #3A sellers were disappointed. And I also bet that #3A shows better, with more of the custom work being visible as soon as you walk into the space.

is there a hard ceiling in this building?
Note the narrow range of past sales in the building on a dollar per foot basis, going back to the first post-nuclear winter sale (omitting only the penthouse C sale, as that came with private outdoor space):

#3A Mar 5, 2012 $1,024/ft
#4C July 14, 2011 $1,043/ft
#5A Mar 22, 2011 $1,013/ft
#3C Feb 1, 2011 $1,006/ft
#4B Nov 12, 2010 $1,075/ft

Without considering #4B (the only 3 BR unit in this list), the range is $37/ft, or 3.5%; with #4B the range is $69/ft, or a whopping 6.4%. The first is almost a rounding error; the second range can reflect market noise, or the premium for larger units of Conventional Wisdom. I.e., no big deal.

Ann Sacks just doesn’t count in this universe.

“1,626 sq ft” qualifies as a One Bed Wonder
The median size of new homes in the United States being built in 2009 was 2,064 sq ft (source). That is just one good-sized master suite larger than loft #3C, which has just one bedroom. You could park an emergency overnight guest in that study / den area on the floor plan, but with the entry to the bedroom where it is, that area does not even qualify as an oxymoronic “interior bedroom”. In other words, this space was designed for people who all share the same bed … a One Bed Wonder.

Here are past Manhattan Loft Guy posts tagged with “One Bed Wonder”.

is this my disappointing month (or my disappointed month)?
It seems that I have been closely identifying with sellers in recent days, feeling the pain of Manhattan lofts that sold below where sellers had hoped, and below where I would have thought. Loft #3A at the Chelsea Quarter condo is just the latest example in this string:

Turn it around, of course, and it appears that these buyers got some sort of deal in each case, so that is good for them, right? But even though I did not own (or represent) any of these lofts, I feel badly that it appears that they were slighted by The Market. A silly bit of emo, perhaps, but I do love lofts.

© Sandy Mattingly 2012


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