10 Bleecker Street loft takes forever to sell after meticulous renovation

well, technically, not “forever”
The Manhattan loft #1A at 10 Bleecker Street sold on March 10 for $1.375mm after having been on and off the market (much more ‘on’ than ‘off’) since The Peak of the Manhattan residential real estate market. While this sale was at a 16.5% premium over the prior sale at $1.18mm on October 5, 2006, that fact alone is much less than half of the story. The full listing history is a good start, but still not the whole story (I have omitted 3 brief off-the-market periods, totalling about 8 weeks):

Oct 5, 2006 sold $1.18mm
Mar 27, 2008 new to market $1.9mm
May 23   $1.8mm
Sept 8   $1.695mm
Dec 2 hiatus  
May 7, 2009 back $1.5mm
Sept 1   $1.489mm
Feb 11, 2010 change firms $1.449mm
Dec 23 contract  
Mar 10, 2011 sold $1.375mm

That 18 month blank did not leave much room for the new owners to enjoy the space, given that they needed time to plan and execute a “meticulous” renovation. Per that March 27, 2008 listing description, they added a “state of the art chef’s kitchen” with “floating marble island” and custom cabinets (I have never before seen a kitchen island described as “floating”, so I wonder if this one did anything special), “15 feet of custom built-in closets” in the master, “glorious marble and granite baths”, in-wall sound and multiple plasma televisions; in short, “the glamour of downtown loft living with the best of luxury finishes”.

Of course, I am curious about what happens in people’s lives that they care enough to do this kind of renovation of a beautiful loft skeleton, then try to flip it within 18 months. I hope it was not the anticipation of a quick profit, regardless of what they paid to renovate this “1,700 sq ft” duplex (ground and lower floor) loft.

Of course, I am especially curious about the mindset of people who both (a) time the market almost perfectly (March 27, 2008 is 3 days from the end of the quarter that recorded Peak prices in Manhattan, with still nearly 6 more months before the Lehman bankruptcy filing put the slowing market into deep freeze) and (b) mis-price a loft even at the Peak.

was it the price, Mars?
Look again at the listing history above. It took nearly 20 months once they dropped to $1.5mm to find a contract at $1.375mm … hardly a huge discount. Hindsight also requires attention to the first almost 6 months of marketing, near-Peak time wasted at 3 prices The Market did not like, even before Lehman.

poster children of the world, unite!
This loft is a poster child for being too aggressively priced near The Peak, yet also a poster child for the difficulty of the very thin market in 2009. The overall Manhattan residential real estate market was thawing in the Summer of 2009, with more contracts signed, yet this loft sat within 8% of its eventual clearing price from September 2009 through 2010.

The Market is not fair.

the neighbors say the price was right
That period of almost 16 months when the asking price was low enough to attract a market bid at the eventual contract price is difficult for an onlooker to understand, but must have been a horrible time for the sellers. Given the deal at $1.375mm, they were at the right asking price from at least May 2009, a time when the overall market was undoubtedly beginning to thaw.

And there can be little doubt that the eventual contract price was the right price for a renovated ground floor duplex in this very handsome coop at the corner of Elizabeth Street. The neighbors in the “1,900 sq ft” #1C raced through The Market:

Nov 3, 2010 new to market $1.695mm
Dec 1   $1.595mm
Dec 30 contract  
Jan 28, 2011 sold $1.53mm

That’s $805/ft for #1C quickly, compared to the Odyssey of #1A to get $809/ft. In the case of this pair, while I said above about timing “The Market is not fair”, the hyper-local market in this coop was remarkably consistent recently.

other neighbors will pain the sellers
But how is this nearby sale for a sharp stick in the eye to the #1A sellers? #7A is about as different a loft in the same building as the two ground floor duplexes could be (only “1,100 sq ft” with a roof deck of “850 sq ft”), and it sold in the depths of nuclear winter, after having attracted a low ball bid:

Sept 17, 2008 new to market $2.195mm
Dec 5   $2.095mm
Jan 5, 2009 contract  
Mar 12 sold $1.75mm

Not fair, right?

© Sandy Mattingly 2011


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