slow and steady loft at 148 West 23 Street wins race, eventually

not ‘forever’, but there was a birthday
Although the Manhattan loft #11BC at 148 West 23 Street (Chelsea Mews) ‘celebrated’ a birthday before closing on March 9 at $1.05mm, that birthday was a happier occasion than for some loft listings that linger, as it was in contract by January 7, a full month before the birthday (this loft was new to market on February 6, 2010). They started offering at $1.25mm but got to their firm asking price after dropping to $1.2mm in May and then $1.1mm in June, then holding there until the deal that was signed nearly 7 months later.

While by no means quick, this sale is a dramatic contrast to yesterday’s flogging of a 10 Bleecker Street loft, snarkily described as having taken “forever” and which closed nearly 30% off the first of six asking prices. (March 29, 10 Bleecker Street loft takes forever to sell after meticulous renovation) In setting a price in June that was evidently close to the sellers’ limit, and then holding (relatively) firm, these sellers chose fight in response to the disappointed seller’s conundrum (see my November 15, flight or fight? the disappointed seller’s conundrum, 30 East 21 Street and 205 West 19 Street lofts edition). And it worked. Eventually.

This “1,400 sq ft” loft is nearly square and has the benefit of high ceilings (11+ feet) and tall windows (7’6”) but the deficit of those four windows being on only one wall. Though “[r]ecently renovated [and] architect-owned”, the result is a out-sized master suite (with walk-in closet and office) flanked by a living / dining room that is 13 x 34 feet. I don’t get a sense of volume from the pictures, and doubt that most people would from being in the space. I guess there are limits to even what an architect-owner can do with a square with 3 dark sides.

neighboring comps
At $750/ft, this sale of #11BC compares quite favorably to the first floor neighbors who also chose to fight The Market with a long stretch of price drops, rather than flee by going off the market for a spell, whom I hit in my February 16, Chelsea Mews loft sells before 2nd birthday, barely + under $500/ft, barely. You may remember that those unfortunates cleared at $492/ft only one day short of the second birthday of that listing.

But #11BC compares not quite as well to other first floor neighbors who narrowly missed a first birthday, who sold at $797/ft another combination (I found it ‘awkward’) that had been renovated (the babble claimed “to perfection”). In my September 8, asking $1.495mm did not work for 148 West 23 Street loft, but asking $1.575mm did, I addressed the quirk that this loft failed to sell coming out of the nuclear winter that gripped the overall Manhattan residential real estate market while asking $1.495mm but succeeded in getting a (discounted) contract in July 2010 off an ask of $1.575mm.

When #7E sold 14 months ago at $817/ft, it was a good comp for being in the same building, but a bad comp for being a much smaller loft (“780 sq ft”). When I hit that sale in my January 29, 2010, 148 West 23 Street sale treads long water (swallows some), I noted its odd history of three sales, its position at the top of the two prior sales in the building, and the relatively high maintenance charges at Chelsea Mews:

for #7E of $1,916/mo [as] rather impressive for a loft of only "780 sq ft", in a what the hell do I get for that? kind of way….

working hard for the money
I count 34 open houses for #11BC over 10+ months in 2010.

fun fact: buyers are downsizing
As noted, the “1,400 sq ft” #11BC is laid out as a 2-bedroom with an ‘office’ in the master suite. This is a very different space than the buyers were used to. In what must have been some fancy dancing by the lawyers and close coordination with the machinery for closings, the #11BC buyers on March 9 were sellers of #3CD at 42 West 13 Street the day before. That loft was vaguely similar to #11BC in that it was also billed as a 2-bedroom plus office, but at “2,200 sq ft” with a terrace, it was really in an entirely different category.

Note the overlapping activity for the loft they sold on West 13th Street and the loft they bought on West 23rd Street (omitting some time spent off the market):

#11BC   Feb 6, 2010 new to market $1.25mm
  #3CD May 14 new to market $2.895mm
#11BC   May 20   $1.2mm
#11BC   June 18   $1.1mm
  #3CD Oct 14   $2.75mm
  #3CD Dec 5 contract  
#11BC   Jan 7, 2011 contract  
  #3CD March 8 closed $2.35mm
#11BC   March 9 closed $1.05mm

Nothing quite says ‘downsizing’ like going from “2,200 sq ft” to “1,400 sq ft” unless it is also pocketing $1.25mm in the process. (I can’t tell [yet!] where the #11BC sellers headed.)

© Sandy Mattingly 2011

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