it should not be this hard to get the right price, as 40 West 15 Street loft (finally) sells above ask

patience, of course, is a virtue (if rewarded)
The listing history for the “2,000 sq ft” Manhattan loft #2A at 40 West 15 Street involves several efforts, but considering that it sold for $2mm on July 2, the numbers are just weird:

Mar 21, 2011 new to market $2.2mm
May 18   $1.995mm
June 23 hiatus  
July 5 FSBO!  
Sept 28 hiatus  
Oct 20 change firm  
Dec 20 hiatus  
Feb 23, 2012 back on market  
April 25 contract  
July 2 sold $2mm

Put aside the 3 periods when it was off the market (that last one was long, wasn’t it?) and note that the loft was marketed within 10% of the final clearing price for the entire (active) 11 month marketing period, and low for the last (active) 9 month marketing period.

Why would a loft at the right price take so long to sell? (hint: there is no obvious or rational answer to this question)

the world is cruel, The Market is a female dog
I am not going to knock the decision to go For Sale By Owner here, especially as the price was right. I have no idea what the actual marketing looked like, but I assume that the FSBO effort attracted attention from at least a significant part of the relevant buyer pool. (After all, PruDE had it from October into December and then February nearly through April before finding buyers who would sign a contract.)

Let’s just say that there was a very active market for lofts about 2,000 sq ft and/or valued at about $2mm overlapping with the extended campaign to sell loft #2A.  Here is a selection of downtown Manhattan lofts of similar size and/or price that sold before loft #2A (from the Master List of Manhattan Lofts Sold Since November 2008, of course):

377 West 11 St #3C “2,366 sq ft” 5/15/2012 $2,100,000
260 Park Avenue South #2E “1,662 sq ft” 5/14/2012 $1,875,000
125 East 12 St #1B “2,229 sq ft” 5/2/2012 $1,815,000
56 Thomas St #5 “1,789 sq ft” 4/30/2012 $2,117,000
25 West 15 St #7 “1,800 sq ft” 4/16/2012 $1,707,500
252 Seventh Av #7A “2,053 sq ft” 4/4/2012 $2,150,000
360 West 36 St #6N “2,825 sq ft” 3/19/2012 $1,900,000
38 Warren St #7C “1,850 sq ft” 3/15/2012 $2,150,000
22 Warren St #4 “1,800 sq ft” 2/29/2012 $1,900,000
335 West 38 St #11 “2,600 sq ft” 2/7/2012 $2,000,000
130 West 30 St #8C “2,064 sq ft” 1/23/2012 $1,850,000
50 West 15 St #9D “1,611 sq ft” 1/19/2012 $2,180,000
121 West 19 St #9A “1,631 sq ft” 1/12/2012 $1,950,000
54 East 11 St #3 “2,200 sq ft” 12/15/2011 $2,205,000
356 Broadway #5C “2,200 sq ft” 12/14/2011 $1,975,000
561 Broadway #5A “2,200 sq ft” 12/14/2011 $2,000,000
233 West 26 St #5W “2,000 sq ft” 12/13/2011 $1,875,000
22 West 26 St #4D “2,190 sq ft” 11/22/2011 $2,015,000
121 West 19 St #5G “1,915 sq ft” 11/15/2011 $2,000,000
105 Fifth Av #11D “1,925 sq ft” 11/9/2011 $1,800,000
140 Fifth Av #8B “2,000 sq ft” 10/18/2011 $2,100,000
270 Broadway #21B “2,554 sq ft” 10/14/2011 $2,065,000
43 West 21 St #3R “1,850 sq ft” 10/5/2011 $2,040,000
249 West 29 St #14 “1,950 sq ft” 9/22/2011 $1,800,000
39 East 20 St #5 “1,963 sq ft” 9/9/2011 $2,100,000
720 Greenwich St #7UV “1,850 sq ft” 8/9/2011 $2,100,000

Not each of these 26 successfully marketed lofts would have been seen as a direct competitor by any one buyer, but this set certainly includes groups of highly relevant comps for different sets of buyers during the time that #2A was actively marketed.

in this case, “authentic” + “move-in” = dated
As a marketing matter, loft #2A is described as “authentic” to call attention to the brick walls, high ceilings, and “over-sized” windows, but also to the beamed ceilings, funky radiator covers, and exposed piping. The phrase “[m]ove-in condition or design to suit your needs” is a classic warning often used with “authentic” lofts to indicate that most buyers would plan some updating. Long-time readers of Manhattan Loft Guy know that I had glass brick in my Tribeca loft in early 1980s, and consider that material a particular marker for late 1970s – early 1980s conversions (see pic #6). You don’t know (until know) that I had those same kitchen cabinets (see pic # 4) in my West 26 Street loft in the 1990s, and I also consider that a marker for late 1970s – early 1980s conversions. (Did you notice that the bathrooms are described only as “full” and are not pictured?)

Most buyers, in short, would look at loft #2A as a candidate for several hundred thousand dollars in improvements.

The footprint is pretty challenging, however. With windows only on the north wall and plumbing stacks (apparently) only in opposite diagonal corners, the current floor plan implies that the kitchen needs to be in front, the bathrooms in back, and the bedrooms in the dark. Certainly an architect would test those plumbing assumptions, and would try to play with light. As it is, that hard office wall to the right front in the main listing photo is a candidate for coming down.

I suspect that many buyers would bite the bullet on interior sleep areas (rather than the awkward locution “bedroom area”) and move that master “bedroom” back by reallocating the many storage nooks and crannies, leaving a more square, more open main living area. But to repeat: few buyers would move-in, as is, despite the polite invitation.

With that additional dollar investment in the offing, that this loft cleared at $1,000/ft is rather remarkable. (Only half the 13 lofts above sold above $1,000/ft.) Did I mention that it sold above the last (old) asking price??

a big move downtown
The buyers came from 86th and Park, from a rental that probably looks something like this (at least the floor plan, if not the newly dressed look, and price). A very “apartment” apartment. Best Manhattan Loft Guy wishes that they enjoy authentic downtown loft living, after they bring their baby up to date, that is.

© Sandy Mattingly 2012

 

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