unsold 2010 into 2011, 49 East 21 Street loft sells 18% higher


that was then …

There are a variety of ways to show the change in market conditions in the overall Manhattan residential real estate market. Looking at individual downtown Manhattan loft sales as I do nearly every day turns up gems like the “1,461 sq ft” Manhattan loft #5C at 49 East 21 Street. The Market was not interested when it was available for 4 of the 6 months between October 2010 and April 2011 at $1.825mm and $1.775mm, but it caused a stir when offered at $1.995mm on January 9 this year, going into contract in 3 weeks after a spirited bidding war, and selling on March 15 at $2.16mm.


Not only is the clearing price an 8% premium over the ask (I assume the January 8 ask of $1.895mm was a typo, fixed the next day, but even so, the point is the same), but it is at least an 18% premium over the price that no one was willing to pay two years ago. Is the overall market up 18% in two years? No, but this loft demonstrably is.


lux finishes, odd layout

It took me a while to realize what I don’t like about the floor plan. With “1,461 sq ft”, that should be more than enough space for a spacious 2-bedroom layout, but it plays small. At first I thought my main problem was with the entrance (open front door, face closet; turn right, into the loft, and face the hallway to the master bedroom door). But that can be solved by pivoting the closet 90 degrees left, along the wall rather than perpendicular. That would also open up the vista on entry to include the long wall opposite the kitchen.


My main problem is caused by the kitchen being in the middle of the loft. As lived in, the dining area (see pic #2) is opposite the kitchen rather than in the space marked “Dining” on the floor plan. That’s a logical usage (it makes the most sense to me, and obviously to these sellers), but not required. But then what use do you make of the “Dining” area? Or, if you make the “Dining” area an actual dining area, what do you use that narrow space opposite the kitchen for?


I’d probably put the dining area as in the second listing photo and use that “Dining” area as a den or entertainment area (small couch facing the wall-mounted big screen on the back wall?). But you don’t get that classically loft-y sense of volume from an open space that is roughly 12 by 40 feet because the kitchen forces a break.


Odd. I did not click on the alternate floor plan until after drafting the few paragraphs above, but that idea solves one problem by enclosing this awkward space at the cost of shrinking the otherwise open 40+ foot length. That might be the best result, especially if “Home Office” becomes a dark nursery or an occasional guest room. At that point the “1,461 sq ft” footprint increases in utility.


not to quibble, but what do I know?

My cavil about this space not being spacious aside, The Market obviously loved the loft (remember: quick contract with bidding war to +8%). The buyers get two bedrooms with two baths and the kind of finishes typical for a high-end condo conversion circa 2005, in a condo with full time doorman and common roof deck, and the associated common charges to spread those costs among a small number of owners.


Other recent purchasers here got the same service and similar utility (with a home office that is tempting for storage) in a more efficient layout that The Market did not like as much as it did loft #5C. The “1,282 sq ft” loft #4D directly competed with #5C, asking the same $1.995mm from December 21 until contract on January 26. But that deal was at a discount, closing at $1.775mm on February 26.


That comes to $1,384/ft for the smaller #4D, $1,478/ft for #5C in head-to-head competition for 17 days. Turns out that in this building, at least, The Market likes the ‘wasted’ (challenging?) larger layout of #5C over the ‘efficiency’ of #4D, perhaps because some people just don’t like to walk through a kitchen to get anywhere. To each her own.


oxymoron, please call your office

In today’s adventure in broker babble that breaks grammatical boundaries, I submit for your consideration


Lofty 11-foot ceilings and open living areas create airy, intimate spaces.


Is it so airy because it is so lofty? How much air is too much air before you leave intimate space?


And a visual: if the living room is only 12 feet wide and that huge piece of furniture is at least two feet wide (pic #1 and especially pic #3), is the living room intimate, cozy, or just cramped?


© Sandy Mattingly 2013


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