why didn't the loft at 252 West 30 Street sell at The Peak?

not one trend, but another
The Manhattan loft 252 West 30 Street #6B does not quite fit a pattern that regular readers of Manhattan Loft Guy know intrigues me (the pattern of lofts that did not sell in 2009 at $Xmm selling in 2010 at or near that same price). This "1,750 sq ft" condo loft at Chelsea’s northern fringe sold on August 23 at $1.51mm and was another Bang! Zoom! sale (see below), as it took all of 15 days in May to find a contract.

But I am scratching my head about why it had not sold when it was offered just after The Peak, from May 2008 to February 2009, from $1.695mm to $1.595mm. That seems within spitting distance (err … negotiating range) of the August 2010 clearing price of $1.51mm. What happened?

a data hole
I don’t know why, but this loft is hard to track (impossible to track for a civilian). The August 23 sale shows as "[n]o listing associated with this closing" on StreetEasy. I know that StreetEasy is sometimes referred to as the closest Manhattan equivalent to a Multiple Listing Service (it is a very useful tool in our environment), but this sale is one indication that is not. (Oh how I wish we had a real MLS!) In this instance, the inter-firm data-base shows that #6B was offered for sale through The Level Group on May 5 and went into contract by May 20. Only the most cogno of the cognoscenti will recognize that The Level Group is the new name for the (even more?) unfortunately named Pari Passu Realty.

The Level listing is still on their public web site as "in contract" so it may fall away when (if?) they update. For now, you can find it here. Maybe StreetEasy missed it in the changeover from Pari Passu to Level???

peaking at an unsuccessful sale
The Halstead no sale listing is on StreetEasy, where you will see that this loft had been offered from May 2008 to February 2009 starting at $1.695mm and dropping to $1.595mm on September 8, 2008. Maybe that unfortunate date is the clue to my question about why it had not sold off these asking prices in a pretty active market, yet sold in August 2010 off only 5% from the last ask: they were asking $1.595mm for less than a week when Lehman filed for bankruptcy, then everyone held their breath, then banks shut down (much) lending, then buyers ran to the sidelines, then we were in the full-fledged Nuclear Winter of Manhattan real estate.


Of course, I don’t know if the sellers had any offers through the Summer of 2008 off the $1.695mm asking price, or whether they then considered themselves negotiable (had there been an offer) enough to work down from $1.695mm to $1.51mm. Certainly a lot of people missed the fact that The Market Had Changed, even before Lehman … that The Peak was more or less coops or condos that closed in the first quarter of 2008.

hindsight is a female dog
It would have taken a discount of 11% for the sellers to have gotten to a $1.51mm sale in Summer of 2008, a discount level that was commonplace in 2009 but may have seemed like too much to swallow until they faced the music and dropped the price in that fateful September. To get a good visual on how active that May – August 2008 market was, check again the green lines the contracts signed per month chart in Mr. UrbanDigs September 6 post, The August Lull. Short story: many contracts were signed in each of those months, so there were a lot of buyers around then, pulling cash out of their pockets (and out of their lenders).

If the two owners had any offers then, and if one owner persuaded the other not to negotiate (enough), I wonder if they entered couples therapy after The Market froze and it took another 20 months after Lehman to sell. Ouch.

awkward footprint
I have not (yet) described the loft. Yes, it appears to have been renovated in the not-to-distant past, as the overall condition is babbled in that unsuccessful 2008-2009 listing description as "recently renovated and is in excellent condition" [if A, then B, right??], while the kitchen is specified as "newly renovated open kitchen features a Bosch range and dishwasher, lustrous white cabinets with recessed pulls, and granite countertops". Is this language ("can easily be redesigned to suit your personal needs and preferences") a hint that the layout is not ideal?

I bet that the walk-in closet can be turned into a second bath (it has a washer-dryer already and sits between the kitchen and the [now] single bath). Having two bathrooms in a "1,750 sq ft" loft would help.

Is that the longest master bedroom you’ve ever seen, in proportion to the overall size of the loft? Those 3 side windows in the master look to be lot line windows, with no view and (likely) little light, so all "solutions" to the over-sized bedroom ‘problem’ are imperfect; if you cut it in half and keep the ‘real’ window, that bedroom is now far from the bath and teh walk-in closet; if you cut it in half and use the other end, there may be little light.

But I bet the next owner has tried to do something to shorten that bedroom and open up the space, which would also solve the ‘problem’ of the current long and narrow living room. And put in a second bath.

Loft #6B sold for $863/ft 3 weeks ago, even with these awkward layout issues. Among neighboring sales, #6B at $863/ft compares favorably to #5A and the #14. Loft #5A traded at $1.325mm for "1,542 sq ft" in April ($859/ft) in probably equal-or-or-better condition than #6B and certainly in a move-in floor plan that is far superior (3 bedrooms, 2 baths, a corner that seems to have real windows on two sides). Those sellers came out in June 2009 at $1.475mm, as The Market had started to thaw.

The 14th floor went through the teeth of the chilly market, coming out in October 2008 (about six weeks after Lehman) at $2.3mm before selling in September 2009 at $1.55mm (ouch). This "1,750 sq ft" 3 bedroom + 3 bath loft is not very comparable to #6B or #5A, as it has three terraces and four exposures providing "outstanding light all day long" and views of the Empire State and downtown skyline. At $886/ft without taking the 14th floor outdoor space into account, these folks got slaughtered in The Market, but show that #6B at $863/ft (even with the layout issues) was not too bad.

$863/ft is not as well as they might have done before Lehman, but not too bad overall. Especially considering that the August 2010 #6B sellers had bought it in January 2006 (before renovating) at $1.35mm. Or considering that #7B sold in May 2006 at $1.575mm in better condition and layout (3 bedrooms + 2 baths), with two walls of windows that clear adjoining buildings, offering "open downtown views", "sky and sunshine all day", and sunsets. (What a difference one floor higher can make!) I will stop now, I promise….

those Bang! Zoom! sales
But not before noting the other parts of the trend of which the quick 252 West 30 Street #6B sale is a part. This loft is now the third loft profiled recently that spent very little time "in the market" before closing within 4 days of each other last month. The others were, of course, Penthouse E at 73 Worth Street, which I hit in yesterday’s bidding war over penthouse loft at 73 Worth Street that started at 2006, and the 5th floor at 11 West 20 Street, which I profiled in my September 9 post, 11 West 20 Street loft zooms through market, beats higher floor.

© Sandy Mattingly 2010

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