Great Jones Street loft shatters (old) (near) Peak performance in cute Noho corner

remember The Peak? overall Manhattan market data re-sets into new heights

The “1,250 sq ft” Manhattan loft #2 at 3 Great Jones Street that sold two weeks ago for $1.63mm had been bought by the recent seller on July 2007 for $1.35mm. That’s a gain of 21%, for those who have trouble finding the calculator utility on their smartphones. That earlier sale was not quite at (what I might have to stop calling) The Peak, as I have used The Miller’s quarterly data pointing to the First Quarter of 2008 as the quarter with the highest sales prices recorded in the overall Manhattan residential real estate market. Using the monthly StreetEasy Manhattan Condo Index, July 2007 was still not The Peak, but it was close: rounding to three digits as StreetEasy does, the highest monthly Index values were the 2.19k in both October 2007 and March 2008. July 2007 was close, and not just in time, as the Index value was 2.13k, within 3% of the high point(s) of the Index.

The monthly Index hit that 2.19k again this past November, then hit new highs in both December (2.24k) and January (2.27k), with the February data not yet available. It should go without saying that it remains to be seen whether these levels will be sustained, or become a new Peak, or be data points in a further increasing market, but let’s not be subtle about that uncertainty. For now … wow. StreetEasy shows the last two months’ worth of data beating The (old) Peak by 2.3% and 3.6%.

With that context, look again at the market response to this rather modestly sized, modestly babbled, and second floor loft at the delightful corner of Shinbone Alley: to market at what could be seen as an aggressive $1.625mm on November 20 (remember: $1.35mm on July 30, 2007), in contract by December 13, and closed on March 12 at a tiny premium to ask, $1.63mm. Again: that’s a gain of 21% for the seller, over a period that the overall Manhattan market (as measured by StreetEasy) was up less than 7%. I have a theory rationalization for that result, but let’s first look at this second floor over-performer.

modesty abounds in this minimalist Noho loft

The modifiers in the broker babbling are very limited: the loft is “sunblasted”, the windows are “custom”, storage space is “abundant”, the master bath is “large”(!), and the aesthetic is “minimalist”. That’s it. No further boasting. I suspect the agent could have justifiably boasted about the kitchen, at least, if not the (large, but unpictured) master (only!) bath. The pictures are certainly lovely, with little that is “classic” about the loft, but a strong minimalist aesthetic offering strong and clean lines everywhere. And an angled wall that is more evident in the floor plan than in the photos. (I wonder about the gratuitous rise of the dining area, but the place looks terrific.) There is no evidence of architectural details and the dropped ceiling with recessed lighting is an anti-classical element.

You can’t tell from the limited StreetEasy data, but the loft was in exactly the same condition in July 2007, when the recent seller bought it for the now-evident bargain price of $1.35mm.

There’s an alternative floor plan provided, with a simple 2-bedroom set-up replacing the dining area and eliminating that angled wall, but this loft is clearly optimized for an individual or couple, as a large (and largely open) 1-bedroom, with storage that is abundant for people sleeping together but perhaps not for more folks sleeping in a second bedroom. Minimalism is hard to maintain with kids around.

There appear to be two words missing from the broker babble: walk-up. Our listing system says this building has no elevator, which is consistent with the shape of the cut-way in the floor plan being a public stairway rather than an elevator vestibule.

celebrating the diversity of Manhattan lofts since 2006

The best same-building comp for the recent sale of the second floor is that 2007 sale of the same loft, and we’ve already seen that that is of limited utility, as just making a time adjustment based on overall market stats yields a too-low current value. But if you clicked around on the Past Activity tab for this building on StreetEasy you found the surviving listing for an unsuccessful attempt to sell the 4th floor loft in 2009 for $1.295mm. Once again, here’s what I love about Manhattan lofts: two lofts in the same building, with identical footprints and plumbing access can have very different looks.

In this case, the 4th floor crams 2 bedrooms plus an office into space the 2nd floor allocates to an open loft plus a single bedroom. The picture of the “eat-in country kitchen” is certainly radically different from the smaller (minimalist) kitchen on the 2nd floor, with what might be tin ceilings. (Certainly, that ceiling is highly textured.) Note those kitchen windows. We have the 4th floor floor plan in our listing system, which shows that the kitchen and bathroom take up the entire back wall of the loft and benefits from windows on that back wall. The kitchen is listed as 16 by 15 feet, ample for eating in.

You buy a Manhattan loft, you can do pretty much anything you want to it. In the case of the 4th floor, that included lots of utility and little volume, with a floor plan oriented to spending a lot of time in that large kitchen. You’d not spend much time in the bedrooms, as they are both capable of inducing claustrophobia, as is the little office. Even at this relatively small scale in this building, there is a great variety in what lofts look like, and how their spaces are organized as well as decorated.

For someone interested in a loft that looks like the 2nd floor, the 4th floor would present as a gut job; for someone who prefers the 4th floor, the 2nd floor is likely to feel cold. Different strokes, folks!

if you forced me to guess …

I hinted above at having a rationalization for the market performance of the second floor loft, from 2007  at $1.35mm to 2014 at $1.65mm. Fact is, I can’t ‘explain’ this sequence, so I would alibi that The Market does what The Market does. I.e., it is not rational or efficient at the granular level.

But if you told me that I had to come up with some hypothesis, insisting that there is more rationality to The Market than I give it credit for, I would say … Noho. Great Jones Street is not Bond Street (the “it” street in Manhattan for a few years, and one that has become a brand unto itself), but it may be getting a ‘halo’ effect from being only a block north of Bond. (Let’s not call it NoBo, as Great Jones Street is quite sufficient.) There’s probably not enough sales data to test this theory guess, but that’s the only factor that might support this loft on this block outperforming The Market by such a degree.

Unless it’s just miscellaneous market madness, of course….

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