comping is (still) hard in the Manhattan loft niche
You can’t have a much more stark comparison between two lofts in the prime Manhattan loft neighborhoods than two approximately 2,000 sq ft lofts that sold on the same day, both with high ceilings, both with a mix of classic features dressed up with things like chef’s kitchens, both built as two bedroom + two bath units, both condos. The “1,948 sq ft” Soho entry, loft #3E at 43 Wooster Street, sold on June 24 just above ask at $3.975mm after taking six weeks to get into contract, while the “2,010 sq ft” Tribeca
stepchild comp that also sold on June 24, loft #4E at 8 Warren Street, took (just) ten weeks to get into contract for $3.28mm. In absolute dollar terms, that’s a spread of $695,000, or a 21% premium for the Soho loft; on a per-square foot basis, that’s $2,041/ft vs. $1,632/ft, or a a 25% premium for the Wooster Street loft over its poor relation in Tribeca.
That’s shocking, isn’t it?
interiors more similar than different
I’ll get to the differences between the lofts below, but the similarities are many. In condition, the lofts sound and look very similar (from broker babble and listing photos; I’ve not seen either one in real life); one bit of babble is restrained, the other, voluble:
Very Cool … Loft with large windows and High Ceilings 10Ft 10″ and WB Fire Place. The master bedroom has an en suite white marble bathroom with steam room and the second bedroom has a bathroom just across the hall. There is also a home office and the chefs kitchen has a Viking oven, Sub Zero fridge & wine cooler. … Speakers for Home Theatre are installed.
(That’s pretty restrained.)
the ideal combination of classic loft with stylish modern touches. … voluminous ceilings, large 6 foot windows, hand-pointed exposed brick walls and truly stunning re-milled antique wide-plank pine floors. …
The elegant chef’s kitchen, designed by Mobili de Angelis, is fitted with a Viking range with vented hood, Sub Zero refrigerator, a wine cooler, garbage disposal, trash compactor and customized cabinetry.
… master suite … outfitted with custom closets and an en-suite bath with heated flooring …. a large custom work space and cabinetry in the gallery.
… abundant closet and storage space, as well as a utility room with a separate boiler, hot water heater and vented washer/dryer.
(That’s pretty … wordy [“voluminous” ceilings??], and my ellipses saved you a lot of time.)
Kitchens weren’t pictured the same way, but …
Baths feature stone, and more stone, with only a slight difference in utility:
“Classic” loft features are few, but evident, including different wood-framed windows:
In each of these pairs, the Soho loft leads, the Tribeca loft is second. (Thanks, DougE for all photos, obvs.)
floor plans and locations begin to break to Soho
The Soho footprint permits a more efficient use of space:
In Tribeca, the classic long-and-narrow presents classic utility and challenges:
We are deep into matters of personal preference here (as opposed to market impacts), as some Manhattan loft lovers love the separation between public and private space in a long-and-narrow loft, while others with equal ardor prefer the efficiency of the near-square. One consequence of the difference in the two footprints is evident in the southwest corner in Tribeca: it is very easy to add a third (legal) bedroom to a long-and-narrow loft that is “23 ft” wide; that is a slightly harder thing to pull off in the near-square of Soho (more easily do-able by shrinking the existing bedrooms, if you can split the window wall; otherwise eat into the great room).
But the cost of adding that third bedroom is a greatly reduced sense of volume in the long-and-narrow format. See the last photo above, and note (from the floor plan) how closely cropped that photo is, with the wall between living room and third bedroom running just out of frame, left. You’re left with two windows in the public area in Tribeca’s long-and-narrow loft, compared to three and two windows in Soho’s corner living room:
Soho closed the utility gap
If you counted windows in Soho, you might be puzzled about the fifth photo above, which appears to show four windows on the long public wall, while the floor plan only has three. Turns out that if you were willing to put children to sleep and let them wake up in the dark, you can duplicate the sleeping utility of the Tribeca long-and-narrow loft. The 8th listing photo with bunkbeds and a floor to ceiling curtain is actually the “home office” on the floor plan, rather than Bedroom 2, which clearly (compare listing photos 3 and 5) is used as the work space with sliding door. They cheated, to get more utility and even more volume in Soho, which you can sometimes do in a nearly square loft (and with mushroom children).
edge of nabe, or just off-center?
I suspect that the biggest reason for such a gap between largely similar Soho and Tribeca lofts is location. (Or, as the Media Division of the Manhattan Real Estate Industrial Complex might put it, location, location, location.) We are again into matters of taste, but 8 Warren Street is hardly prime Tribeca. The plusses are proximity to City Hall Park and … (there must be another one ;-). Downsides to this location compared to other, more typically valued Tribeca lofts, include the very commercial feel of this block (and surrounding blocks) and the distance to the restaurants and shops that people who love Tribeca restaurants and shops think of as “Tribeca”.
43 Wooster Street, in contrast, is outside prime Soho, but not by very much. Of course, Soho is a more compact neighborhood than Tribeca (especially if you tend to ignore the “new Soho” blocks west of Sixth Avenue, as I do), so it is easier for any Soho address to be close to ‘prime’ than it is for far-flung Tribeca addresses to approach the prime micro-nabe.
the dollar difference is even bigger than you think
The absolute dollar value between the observed market value of these lofts (to review: $3.975mm vs. $3.28mm) grows if you take into account monthly expenses. 43 Wooster Street is a 10-unit condo that was converted in 2002, offering a weekday-shift doorman amenity lacking at the 14-unit Trinity Stewart Condominium that was converted (lower five floors) and built (upper five floors) by 2008. The two units we’ve looked at are taxed similarly, with the older (and slightly smaller) #3E at 43 Wooster Street carrying $1,241/mo in real estate taxes, while #4E at 8 Warren Street is at $1,525/mo; but note the difference in condominium common charges to support that 40-hour-per-week doorman: $1,477/mo in Soho compared to only $404/mo in Tribeca.
The net per month ($789/mo) is a non-trivial factor. The best-qualified borrowers were quoted 3.375% for a 30-year-jumbo loan last week by one of the big lenders who fills my in-box; at that rate, $789/mo would support about an additional $175,000 in mortgage. For people who think this way, the absolute dollar premium between our mixed pair of the Soho loft and the Tribeca loft grows to about 26% (from 21%) and the per-foot premium grows to 30% (from 25%).
These two very similar lofts are only about seven-tenths of a mile from each other. I wonder if an out-of-town appraiser might be tempted to consider them as comps for each other. If so, they will stumble over the (straight up, per foot) 25% premium for 43 Wooster Street over 8 Warren Street.