price increase for 222 Park Avenue South loft gets the job done

fits and starts, dollars and sense
Something happened to the Manhattan loft #11E at 222 Park Avenue South, as it was on the market only two days at $2.99mm before going off the market for 4 weeks. Maybe they weren’t quite ready to be show-ready every day, maybe some family came to town for a few weeks; whatever, the pause gave them the opportunity to re-think their asking price, as they came back at $3.1mm.

Going north into another price range (> $3mm) did not hurt, as they found a contract within five weeks at $2.95mm, eventually closing last month. .

April 8 new to market $2.99mm
April 10 hiatus  
May 8   $3.1mm
June 11 contract  
Nov 18 sold $2.95mm

sleeps a small army
Loft #11E has an unusually efficient “T” footprint. Unlike some lofts in this shape, the long axis is wide enough for more than just an entry gallery and the 6 west windows on the base of the “T” permit bedrooms and a windowed kitchen leading to the main public area of the loft.

The loft has 3 bedrooms denominated as such, an unfinished studio (4th bedroom), two lofted areas, and a workshop of some kind. That is a lot of utility for “2,400 sq ft” (per our data-base), especially compared to lofts that play small like the “1,910 sq ft” 1-bedroom in my December 10, funny business, as 22 West 26 Street loft sells at 17% discount to first ask, and the “2,300 sq ft” 1-bedroom in my December 13, loft with artist’s personality sells at $1,174/ft at 149 Franklin Street.

overly modest babble?
The chances that an agent undersold the quality of a loft are not very good, but I am beginning to wonder in this case. The broker babble is entirely lacking in descriptions of the finishes. Except for specifying that the studio is UNfinished, it is all about the bones:

amazing space, light and flexibility while enjoying open city views, 16 over-sized windows, 11.5 foot ceilings and original hard wood maple floors throughout. This loft is currently configured with 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, and very large open living/dining space and an open eat in kitchen with a central island plus a large unfinished studio space . This space offers a new owner the opportunity to easily create a 4th bedroom and with its additional plumbing stack, to add a third bathroom.

I inferred from that modest description and some elements in the floor plan that loft #11E is primitive, likely needing significant updating if not renovation. Yet ….

Yet … the clearing price at $1,229/ft hardly suggests The Market viewed it as primitive, even before you learn that the loft below sold for less in near-Peak sale. Yet … the photos portray a lovely (but dated?) master bath and a functional and huge (but dated?) kitchen with (vented?) island cook-top, double ovens, wide frig, with what look like quality materials. But if they were worth bragging about, the agent would have bragged about them, right? Right??

That master bath certainly looks like state of the art, circa 1985. Dark palette aside, it has been a while since a walk-up-to-step-down-into a party-sized jacuzzi was in style. The state of the maple flooring in the pix  is also consistent with the loft not having been updated or renovated in a good many years.

Yet … $1,229/ft.

On the other hand, I have never before met an agent so modest as to under-praise a loft.

above a Peak comp
Compare that modest broker babble to that of loft #10E, which sold on August 21, 2008 at $3.2mm, or $1,143/ft for “2,800 sq ft” (you can’t see it, but the surviving floor plan in our data-base shows that #10E is just a bit wider in the SE corner). I will only selectively quote the modest babble, for fear of offending by SHOUTING, but this loft was also trumpeted for bones instead of skin: “generous” living space, “generously proportioned” rooms, windows “everywhere”, “hardwood floors”, “large eat-in” kitchen, “superb” light. Not a jot about finishes. The #10E photos in our data-base are not large enough to study, but they certainly present a loft as presentable as #11E looks in the current listing.

I don’t know where StreetEasy got the information that #10E was already in contract when first listed at $3.75mm, but that is not what our data-base shows for this (Corcoran) listing:

Mar 1, 2008 new to market $3.75mm
April 7   $3.5mm
May 22 contract  
Aug 21 sold $3.2mm

This was a very close to Peak sale, with marketing begun in that peak quarter, a contract in the middle of the next quarter, and a closing all of 3.5 weeks before Lehman chilled The Market.

That #10E floor plan that you can’t see suggests that it needed little structural work for large-scale family living, with a master suite in that (expanded) SE corner, an office/bedroom at the entry accessed through the long galley kitchen, leaving room for a dining area where #11E’s kitchen extends, plus 3 additional bedrooms in the NW corner around a 3rd bathroom. One bedroom has some sort of mezzanine space, but there is otherwise none of the awkward lofted space evident on the #11E floor plan, and no space in #10E was billed as “unfinished” like the #11E studio.

I would infer from the pictures and descriptions that these two lofts were in similar condition when they both sold, with #10E possibly having the advantage in a more rational layout.

Yet …. Yet the (somewhat) larger #10E sold for only $3.2mm ($1,143/ft if “2,800 sq ft”) at near-Peak compared to #11E at $2.95mm ($1,229/ft if “2,400 sq ft”) last month. At $1,229/ft, this loft sale in prime Flatiron is in the range of these other large-ish loft sales since August, many in prime loft locations:

  • 149 Franklin St #5S $2.7mm $1,174/ft (noted above)
  • 38 Warren St #3B (Keystone Bldg) $2.565mm $1,186/ft
  • 155 Franklin St #2S $2.995mm $1,228/ft
  • 140 Thompson St #1B (West Broadway Arches) $2.95mm $1,229/ft
  • 105 Hudson St #10S (Powell Building) $3.475mm $1,231/ft [oops] $1,241/ft
  • 7 Wooster St #2B $2.05mm $1,233/ft
  • 245 Seventh Av #3B $2.8mm $1,240/ft

(The Master List of Manhattan Lofts Sold Since November 2008 is a very useful resource!)

Pending more information, I consider #11E to have been a curiously strong sale.

no underlying mortgage, but maintenance ain’t cheap
At the risk of over-staying my welcome, I will (briefly!) note a financial oddity about the coop 222 Park Avenue South: as noted in the babble, there is no underlying mortgage. (Most coops run a perpetual mortgage, refinancing instead of paying it off.) But the odd thing, to me, is not that there’s no mortgage, but that with no mortgage the maintenance is not lower ($2,576/mo for #11E, or $1.07/ft) in a building with few amenities (live-in super, common roof deck) paid for by 52 shareholders. Not that this is high, just higher than I’d think for no mortgage.

© Sandy Mattingly 2011

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