when life threw 2012 loft buyers at 49 East 21 Street a curve, The Market almost bailed them out

of course, a Market gain can be a seller (net) loss
I can’t pretend to explain the 5% gain from April 2012 to January 2013 or to know why the April buyer became a January seller, but in the spirit of Sergeant Joe Friday, here are the facts about the “1,308 sq ft” Manhattan loft #3B at 49 East 21 Street that sold (yes) twice in 9 months:

Jan 27, 2012 new to market $1.55mm
Feb 14 contract  
April 24 sold $1.55mm
May 19 new to market $1.795mm
June 4   $1.75mm
June 26 contract?*  
Jan 10, 2013   $1.635mm

In the spirit of The Naked City, something happened between last year’s Valentine’s Day contract and May 29 to cause the LLC buyer to change plans, but there are 8 million possible stories so I won’t guess. (i think it unlikely that even a Lake Wobegon LLC would plan on a fast buck here.)

From 30,000 feet up, The (hyper-local) Market improved by 5.5% between February and the later contract (*probably June 26, but the inter-firm listings system does not have a contract date), which seems like a ridiculous proposition, but that’s what the facts are (ma’am). But down at ground level, none of that market gain resulted in profit to the recent seller. That January 2013 seller paid a 6% sales fee plus New York City and State transfer fees (that’s $127,939 just in big picture expenses), not to mention the 1% “mansion tax” as a buyer at $1.55mm in April.

As I said, no smart LLC would try such a flip in order to make money. This round trip cost at least $70,000, which was probably lucky. A prudent buyer who needed to immediately flip would probably not plan on that 5.5% market appreciation.

fans of staging should avert their eyes
One of the key tenets of staging is, of course, that properly arranged and colored listings out-perform merely as-lived-in listings, and that empty units under-perform even (merely) lived in listings. No slur intended to te May listing agent or photographer, but the second listing photos are both empty and dreary. The photos from the January 2012 listing are vibrant and homey (if over-decorated).

Come to think of it, perhaps the takeaway from the fact that the empty listing (to me, dreary) garnered the higher price means that it is the April sellers who should avert their eyes. It’s just a guess (sorry) but perhaps the loft showed better empty than it did with all that stuff the (stylish) prior owners had filled it with. Or (as long as we are guessing here) perhaps the April seller and listing agent should avert their eyes for having priced too low and then failed to give The Market enough time to fix the too-low price.

I am sticking with my story that the 5.5% "gain" makes little sense, even as market noise, given the circumstances.

Your guess is, of course, as good as mine. Operators are standing by to record your guess.

© Sandy Mattingly 2013

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