ridiculous patience rewarded with sale of 263 Ninth Avenue loft at small discount

offered in October, contract in October
You know that bit of Conventional Wisdom about how a listing that stays on the market for months without a price drop, it is at the wrong price and will need a price drop to sell? The “2,955 sq ft” duplex Manhattan loft #1C at 263 Ninth Avenue (The Heywood) just collided with that CW and walked away without a scratch. I don’t even need a table to simply present this listing history: first offered at $2.4mm on October 14, 2011, in contract at $2.3mm on October 1, 2012, and (finally) closed on December 13.

That’s 54 weeks to a contract at a mere 4% discount from ask. If I didn’t already know that 2012 had a healthy number of transactions in the overall Manhattan residential real estate market, I would suspect a thin market as the culprit for such a strange history; as it is, I will go with a Modified Thin Market Theory, that there are not many buyers in this part of Chelsea at any one time looking for a nearly 3,000 sq ft (legal) 1-bedroom. That seems just the ticket, as opposed to, say, blaming the seller for not getting the Neutral Colors Memo from the Home Stagers of America, Inc. (Personally, I love that red hallway; we had one that was not as long when we sold our West 26th Street loft in 2005.)

unique lofts need attract fewer buyers
“Unique” is a horribly over-used word in the Real Estate Industrial Complex, frequently used when “unusual” will do, and too often used when an agent thinks there is something (anything) “special” about a listing. A nearly 3,000 sq ft (legal) 1-bedroom loft might qualify on any standard as “unique”, once you add the further elements of (a) ground floor, (b) duplex, and (c) sidewalk (parking lot?) “views”. Let’s go with “unusual” to describe this floor plan, unless you are a fan of a Dana Carvey “special”. Whatever, special / unique / rare lofts that are such because they do not fit the standard narrative for that market segment may have trouble in The Market.

Such lofts may also break with Conventional Wisdom by, for example, needing Just One Buyer and, therefore, sitting on The Market for an unconventionally long time at the right price without (yet) finding That One Buyer until … it does. And That One Buyer buys.

The downstairs photo shows the window wall in the lower part of the duplex, with those very small windows way up on the wall, and nearly all of this space well below the street level. That limits the usage down there, especially for parents who want to raise kids in the light. That’s a pretty big space for ‘just’ a recreation room and/or office … over 1,200 sq ft of less-than-favored space is a pretty big office.

Note that there’s a half-bath (okay, powder room) on each level and that the single full bath is in the master suite. This is a loft that (probably) makes up the left over parts of the first floor footprint when the architects got finished drawing in all the other residential lofts on this floor for the 2005 conversion. It is not set up for people to sleep (or bathe, or shower) in any room other than the master suite. A one bed wonder, in other words, even with “2,955 sq ft”.

nice pix you got there
The finishes look conventionally high end for The Heywood, with the 13 foot ceilings and 8 foot windows and doors emphasizing the best feature of the loft: volume. I have to guess that the wine fridge and small cabinet (to the left of the pantry in the kitchen photo) was added by the first owner, or installed by the developer on request, as it is just a little too out of line with the rest of the kitchen to be architect-designed (however functional it may be).

All in all, the loft shows (in the pix) as advertised:

Huge and dramatic proportions, with grand scale and beautiful design, this elegant loft gives you more space then [sic] you ever dreamed of in Manhattan.

Did you notice the funny thing about the windows in the pictures? In all photos but one, the windows are pictured with the blinds fully drawn (in the living room) or half-drawn from the bottom (in the bedroom), obviously obscuring what is on the other side. Only in the 5th picture is one set of blinds opened, obviously to capture the tree in that angled photo. (Even the long view of the windows, pic #3, taken from the entrance, avoids a straight shot through any window.)

No one who has spent much time looking at listings on the web will be misled by these photos, so i don’t mean to criticize. Just to wonder. These are professional photos, well presented. That is part of Penn South across Ninth Avenue sticking out at the top of the bedroom photos, so this unit appears to be at the southeast corner of the building. I am just wondering why they didn’t put bottom-up blinds in the living room, as they did in the bedroom. That has to be the Ninth Avenue sidewalk just outside (and a little below; is this floor a few steps above the grade?) the living room windows. You’d get some more light, and perhaps even some sky, if the living room windows were visible at the top, just a little. Or so I’d think.

But who am I to complain about the marketing package? They got a deal at a small discount from ask.

Loft #1C competed head-to-head with the smaller (“2,138 sq ft”) duplex loft neighbor #1E. With the same utility of living/dining plus bedroom and 1.5 baths upstairs, office / rec room / whatever-grows-without-light plus .5 bath downstairs, loft #1E was a quicker sale, though at essentially the same value:

Feb 11, 2012 new to market $1.835mm
May 5   $1.795mm
June 11 contract  
Aug 17 sold $1.7mm

At $795/ft, #1E beat #1C by a hair ($778/ft), but” a hair” is just as likely to mean market noise as it is an invitation for a “reason”. If pushed, however, I would guess that #1C is optimal only for someone who really wants a big underground space, but let’s not play the fool’s game of trying to ‘explain’ 2% differences on a dollar per foot basis.

is it a fave yet?
This makes 5 posts about Heywood sales, pretty good coverage for a 50-unit building that was sold new in 2005 (one sale!) and 2006, and (therefore) took a while to kick into resale mode.

Welcome to the club, 263 Ninth Avenue! (The good news is, there are no dues, no dress codes.)

(Countdown … 10 … 9 … 8 … 7 …)

© Sandy Mattingly 2013

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