why did The Market hate this small loft at 315 Seventh Avenue?

cue the head-scratching machine
In a world of weird, in which Manhattan Loft Guy is something of a connoisseur of weird, the October 14 sale of 315 Seventh Avenue #12A (the Kheel Building) for $620,000 caught my eye. This little loft (“770 sq ft”) was said to be mint, with “amazing light and airy” from its high corner. The neighbor next door at #12B sold her “764 sq ft” loft (also mint, but lacking the corner light, views and “airy”) for $759,000 on July 6, while completely overlapping with the #12A marketing campaign. The neighbor just down the hall in #12D sold her even smaller loft (“530 sq ft”) for $542,000 on July 22, 2009, at a time that also overlapped with #12A marketing.

I doubt that the problem with #12A was just grammar, but I have a hard time believing that the difference in clearing price-per-foot is … errr … rational. Especially when I throw thrown in the fact that #11B (“764 sq ft”) sold on July 8 for $790,000.

#12A  $805
#11B $1,034
#12B $993
#12D $1,022

What if I also told you that #9B (yes, “764 sq ft”) closed on May 21 for $650,000, but that it was specifically marketed as a project (“your opportunity awaits to transform…”)?

there’s no hate in The Market, but no love here
Of course it is wrong (or, over-stated) to say that The Market “hates” anything. It’s not personal. Though in this case I am tempted to think that The Market may have “punished” #12A for hubris: the listing history shows that #12A has been on the market continuously (apart from a 3-month break in late 2009) since September 13, 2008 (N.B., Lehman filed for bankruptcy on September 15; ouch), starting at $950,000. The hubris would be that this loft sold on July 20, 2007 for $661,451 in a sponsor sale; granted, the “magnificent renovation” came after July 2007, but it is not likley that it added $288,549 in value to a “770 sq ft” space.

And that level of hubris did not last long: the asking price was dropped to $800,000 on November 12, 2008. (You should pause here … to note how that asking price compares to the [later] clearing prices of #12B [$759k] and #11B [$790k]. Let’s resume!)

I did not see any of these lofts while they were on the market, so I can’t say whether the similar broker babble hides real differences in quality. But the fact is that #12A has easily the best layout: while all are Long-and-Narrow (or, at least rectangular, as it is hard for 770 sq ft to be long), only #12A has the corner with two exposures.

fair, not
As I said this week in my November 15, flight or fight? the disappointed seller’s conundrum, 30 East 21 Street and 205 West 19 Street lofts edition, the disappointed seller has some hard choices to make. And as I said this week in my November 17, gossiping about a Mudd Club beat down, as 77 White Street loft sells off 3% in 4 years, they are likely to be second-guessed by the likes of Manhattan Loft Guy when things don’t turn out well.

Life is not fair, least of all in Manhattan real estate. No one is really “offended” by a listing that is old enough to have a birthday (or two). No one is really “offended” by a listing that is priced well above the market, as #12A was for as few as 8 weeks immediately after Lehman. So, no one punished the #12A seller. But she sure seems to have gotten screwed.

© Sandy Mattingly 2010


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