111 Mercer Street loft gains $922,438 in 19 months, or did it?

developer left money on the table, skewing Manhattan loft market stats

The big story about the “2,024 sq ft” Soho loft on the 3rd floor at 111 Mercer Street is in the headline: the folks behind the trust that paid $4,327,562 to buy the loft from the developer in October 2013 just sold it for $5.25mm. That’s a gain of 21% in those 19 months. In obvious contrast, of course, the StreetEasy Manhattan Condo Index is up only 12% over that same time. But here’s an example of how new development sales screw up paired resale indexes like that of StreetEasy: there was rather a long time between contract signing and closing on that sponsor sale (as so often occurs) and the Index from contract signing ( November 2012) plus 90 days to the recent resale is up 26%. That puts a different spin on it, doesn’t it?

Gauged from the change in market conditions from contract (adjusted for a typical 90 days to sale) to resale (or, to the latest month in the StreetEasy Index), the price history for this original buyer actually under-performed The Market.

Maybe this is the sort of thing only of interest to people who obsess about the quality of market data, and struggle with extrapolating from broad market gauges to individual sales data (who … moi??), but it is at least A Quirk Worth Noting.

this is how absurd the Soho condo loft market is

The 3rd floor loft is wonderfully finished (“triple-mint … the perfect blend of modern sophistication and historic pre-war detail”) in the manner of a proper uber-loft circa 2012, but this one also claims some upgrades. First the uber-finishes:

oversized wood-frame weighted windows, an open grey oak Varenna island kitchen with Calacatta Gold marble counters, Dornbracht Tara chrome fixtures, Miele appliances including a vented hood and built-in coffee maker, plus a Sub-Zero wine refrigerator. The master suite includes a dressing room and a glorious Waterworks master bath with free-standing Empire tub, elegant Grove Brickwork tile, a custom Arpad Baksa-designed walnut vanity with black granite slab countertop, an oversized steam shower, heated chrome towel rack, and a honed 24″ x 24″ Basaltina Inca Gray tile floor with radiant heat.

Now the “many” custom additions, apparently taking this loft beyond “uber”:

including elegantly paneled walls, custom 5″ wide-plank floors, beautiful cove lighting and seamless wiring throughout.

I have no idea what “elegantly paneled walls” are as an upgrade, and I can’t see evidence of that feature in any listing photos, including the main one:

I can see lighting + flooring, and a hint of no-seam wiring, but no paneling

It ain’t cheap to replace a floor (did they lift the kitchen island?) or to repaint after adding new wiring and new lighting, so that ‘under-perform’ label wears a little heavier.

Wonderful finishes aside, the loft is your basic (and limited) Long-and-Narrow in a very small condominium conversion (4 units) in what may be a no-frills condo. The listing description list of amenities is short, somewhat vague, and has a critical modifier:

virtual doorman and the service and facilities of the nearby Nolitan Hotel, owned and managed by an affiliate of the 111 Mercer developers, Veracity (additional fees may apply).

If you’ve seen one Long-and-Narrow Manhattan loft floor plan, you’ve seen a million:

modest room sizes, no side windows … apart from the extra half-bath, the floor plan is nothing special

For $2,594/ft, this is what you get in a Soho loft. Day-um.

You could have put $500/ft into the slightly larger Soho loft on busy Broadway that I hit in my June 13, Soho loft with the most awkward kitchen sells above ask at 543 Broadway, and still be $700/ft less costly than this loft. (That hypothetical renovation budget should be adequate to fix the awkward kitchen and dress the entire loft in uber-fashion.)

Or you could have stayed off noisy Broadway and bought the 2010 version of an uber-loft just a bit south on Mercer Street (“Luxury details abound”!!), as the “2,000 sq ft” loft #2B at 22 Mercer Street closed last month for $1,890/ft. The 2010-uber finishes sound much like those of 2012:

mahogany framed arched windows, 13′ ceilings, a large wood burning fireplace mantled in Pietra Cardoza soapstone, and an ornate, turn of the century Juliette balcony …. The open Bulthaup kitchen is a chef’s dream with Gaggenau, Miele, and SubZero appliances, floor-to-ceiling pantry space, and wine storage. Luxury features include customized floor-to-ceiling closets, wide plank walnut floors, triple glazed CitiQuiet windows, Crestron touch lighting panels, built-in speaker system, central air and heat, and a laundry room with washer/and vented dryer. Both bedrooms have en-suite baths, the master features a steam shower with body spray jets, a 6′ tea-for-two soaking tub, European bidet, and a dual vanity.

That 22 Mercer Street footprint is a variation of the classic Manhattan loft Long-and-Narrow but offers the same utility as the 2-bedroom+2.5bath 3rd floor loft at 111 Mercer Street:

modest room sizes, full laundry room, ‘extra’ half bath; maybe a little more ‘volume’ due to the great room proportions and ceiling height

There is a reason the 111 Mercer Street specimen sold for a 37% premium over the 22 Mercer Street specimen (The Market can’t be wrong, right?), but that reason escapes web-based observation. (22 Mercer has a doorman in real life, by the way.)

pricing adventures, as The Market corrects

There were at least two buyers who thought that the 3rd floor loft at 111 Mercer Street was under-priced, though the sellers and their agents were doubtful:

Jan 26 new to market $5.15mm
Feb 24 $4.995mm
Mar 20 contract
May 20 sold $5.25mm

That’s rather a long time (and one price drop too many) for a loft to sell above ask. Perhaps (perhaps!) that price drop attracted buyers who had (what they thought was) a hard limit of $5 million who, when faced with competition, ponied up another 5% to buy the loft of their dreams. This surmise is consistent with the facts.

I’m still curious about the spread between 111 Mercer and 22 Mercer. Prince and Spring is a nicer block than Grand and Howard, and certainly closer to prime Soho. Not so nice as to generate a 37% premium by itself, however. Day-um.

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