big loft, big roof / 43 East 19 Street penthouse closes under $4mm for (maybe) 4,100 sq ft + 2,050 sq ft terrace

condition is a question, size a smaller question
The Manhattan loft #8 at 43 East 19 Street is a lot of loft: "4,100 gross SF per floor" plus a huge terrace (half the size of a full floor, at "2,050 sq ft"). The listing description emphasizes volume over finishes, while noting "wonderful original detail". It is hard to see whether and to what degree it may benefit from upgrading, but the closing price is a relatively modest 15% off the original ask. It is also a possible bargain for the amount of interior and exterior space — especially compared to a 2007 sale without exterior space.

pretty quick, all told
The listing history is actually relatively rapid for a listing in this price neighborhood: it came to market November 4 at $4.595mm and had two price drops totalling only $200k in January and March before hitting contract in June and closing July 9 at $3.905mm.

2007 was a long time ago, but a difficult adjustment
The 7th floor sold in June 2007 for $4.395mm. On the one hand, it had three mints; on the other hand it had no outdoor space. While the condition of the 7th floor seems to be an upgrade over the 8th floor penthouse, does the $490k spread between the clearing prices account for (a) change in The Market since 2007, (b) triple-mint vs. probable upgrade in condition, and (c) "2,050 sq ft" private roof space??. (Note also that this listing used "3,650 sq ft" as the size.) I think not.

Playing with some numbers here …. If you assign the roof deck a(n arbitrary) value of $250/ft, that accounts for just over $500k in the July 2009 purchase price for the penthouse. Using the more credible "3,650 sq ft" size from the 2007 listing for the 7th floor rather than the "gross SF per floor" of the recent listing, the $3.4mm remainder of the penthouse purchase comes out to $931/ft for the interior penthouse space, compared to the minty $1,200/ft for the 7th floor (roughly a million bucks). That is not a very big spread, since it has to account for both the renovation of the penthouse and the two years elapsed since the 7th floor sale.

I am not seeing evidence of a major market decline from these two sales. Although my rough analysis here is premised on an arbitrary value for the roof deck of $250/ft, any lower valuation of the roof space adds to the disparity in favor of the penthouse interior space valuation. I can’t see how big a mortgage the July buyer put on this loft, but I have to believe it was very difficult to get good comps for space this big with private exterior this big. As you will see, the buyer had enough cash to put a substantial percentage down, so perhaps the appraisal issue was not vexing, after all. Nonetheless, I’d be curious about how The Pros comp this one out….

(Note that StreetEasy provides the careful reader a pretty clean way to assess current value for this much space in need of an an upgrade in this building, without the distraction of outdoor space. Let’s just say that the jury is still out.)

h/t to the Observer’s Max Abelson for the penthouse closing history (via The Real Deal), which has not yet hit StreetEasy but is available on Property Shark. By the way, do you think the buyer got a car-and-driver, or a ‘whole new life’??

another fun fact
This loft sold in March 1994 for $715,000; it looks as though the 1994 buyers were the 2009 sellers.

And another: the coop benefits from ownership of ground floor space now occupied by the restaurant Craft. Nice Craft-work indeed: the current maintenance is lower than the maintenance for the the penthouse in 1994! (There is an assessment in place to replenish the reserve fund, but still ….)

© Sandy Mattingly 2009
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