2nd floor loft at 9 West 20 Street beats well-dressed 5th floor loft from 2010

or, is the broker babble too modest?
It can be difficult to compare Manhattan lofts based on small photos and broker babble, but you’d think that listing descriptions and photos put a property in the best possible light. In the case of the recent sale of the “2,152 sq ft” Manhattan loft on the 2nd floor at 9 West 20 Street in prime Flatiron, the babble is relatively modest yet the loft sold at a (slightly) higher price ($2.39mm) than the same size loft on the 5th floor in September 2010 ($2.35mm), with that babble being much more enthusiastic than the modest verbiage for the 2nd floor.

The spread is small, but the overall Manhattan residential real estate market is more or less flat since late 2010, one loft is 30+ feet higher, and they sound as though they are in different condition. This is pretty muted ‘bragging’, isn’t it?

gorgeous Flatiron loft …. The Pre-war character in this home is displayed with beautiful detail from high ceilings to exposed brick painted white, while still retaining its loft-y feel with peaks of pipes and beams. …. The kitchen is fit for a chef, with the perfect island and ample cabinet space. Lovely hardwood floors throughout and oversized arched windows welcome tons of light. The apartment is in terrific condition with modern updates.

This writer got more more specific and much more enthusiastic:

professionally designed loft has it all… … state-of-the-art sound and lighting systems throughout. … The kitchen is a chefs delight with fully-equipped hi-end appliances, a large walk-in pantry and sleek Italian cabinetry. The master suite has a large custom walk-in + a wall of closets. The en suite bath is sumptuous with a deep Jacuzzi tub and a glass walled shower. … Beautiful espresso stained oak plank flooring, central air-conditioning, huge laundry/storage room with full size washer & dryer and a large wine fridge

I just don’t see “terrific condition with modern updates” as comparable to “professionally designed loft ”; nor should “kitchen is fit for a chef, with the perfect island and ample cabinet space” be comparable to “chefs delight with fully-equipped hi-end appliances, a large walk-in pantry and sleek Italian cabinetry”. One has “loft-y feel with peaks of pipes and beams”; the other has “state-of-the-art sound and lighting systems” and other details.

The problem is that they don’t look all that different in the pictures (both kitchens and master baths look nice enough). But detail is impossible to see in photos, and I find it hard to believe that any Manhattan agent has undersold a listing.

loving the classic Long-and-Narrow floor plans
After dealing with lofts with many funky layouts like mezzanines lately, it is a pleasure to look at two lofts with classic Manhattan loft configurations. The floor plans for the 2nd floor and 5th floor lofts are very similar, both no doubt dictated by the plumbing stacks and the absence of side windows except at the rear. The 5th floor bedrooms are larger, while the 2nd floor kitchen, study/office/den and laundry/utility room are larger, but all the rooms are in essentially the same places on each floor.

those were the days
Three higher floor lofts sold in this building at considerably higher values running into and at The Peak. I will let the highly motivated readers parse the broker babble, but suffice it to say that these lofts all sound as though they were finished at a higher level than either the 2nd or 5th floors and they all benefit from better light and at least one has three real exposures. Two sold very near to each other in time, at curiously exact prices, both at premiums to the ask, while the third sold at The Peak, higher. Click the links for listing details, pix and floor plans (where available):

8th floor June 12, 2007 $2.661mm
10th floor Aug 21, 2007 $2.661mm
11th floor Feb 8, 2008 $2.75mm

As noted some of the premium over the 2nd floor is due to the (probably) better condition, the higher floor, the better light, and the additional exposure, with the rest being 2007 froth and 2008 Peak value. I am on record as noting that the downtown Manhattan loft market was more or less flat to 2007 in 2011 (with some significant outliers in both directions), so you’d think that most of the differences would be loft-specific rather than market driven.

I will tie myself up in knots (and risk losing you) if I try to figure how much the loft-specific elements account for the of the 11% spread in favor of the 8th and 10th floors or the 15% spread in favor of the 11th floor. Better light, better condition, higher floor, better market … you figure it out.

© Sandy Mattingly 2012

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