45 Crosby races to contract above ask / could it be a million dollar renovation?

like a new word?
Have you ever had the experience of learning a new word (one that had been totally unfamiliar to you) and then you notice that word repeatedly, in books, news articles, or even in personal conversations? Following yesterday’s post and what I just saw in new deed filings, I wonder if "million dollar renovation" is that kind of new word in the Manhattan Loft Guy world….

In yesterday’s psst! wanna see a million dollar renovation? 55 East 11 Street closes I observed the change in value from a 2007 purchase plus a renovation, to a 2010 sale, and wondered how much of that increase was attributable to the renovation (and: hello! Curbed readers). I also wondered how much that renovation cost, but I hope it was clear that I was talking about a "million dollar renovation" in the sense of adding up to a million in value, not as a million in cost.

So imagine my surprise this morning that the only Manhattan loft that I see with a new deed filed sold $1,165,000 above where it had last sold, and that there had been a renovation in between.

With the Manhattan loft #7S at 45 Crosby Street, the increase in value from 2004 ($1.6mm) to the very recent sale ($2.765mm) has a great deal to do with general Manhattan market improvement since 2004 and not just the renovation. But what really interests me about this loft sale is that it took only 19 days to find a contract and that the contract was $115,000 above the asking price. Bang, zoom … to the moon, Alice. The fact that one set of former neighbors probably hates these sellers ocurred to me, but only later….

fresh news (with a fresh attitude?)
How fresh is this news? The February 25 deed was filed today. The Stribling site keeps post-closing listings up (bless you, Miss Elizabeth) so the full pix and floor plan are readily available for 45 Crosby Street #7S. True lovers of Manhattan lofts will want to compare-and-contrast the before-and-after conditions in this loft compared to yesterday’s at 55 East 11 Street (the Curbed link makes it easy for yesterday’s loft), but my first impression was that the bulk of the renovation money at 45 Crosby Street went into the kitchen, baths and steel-and-glass third "bedroom". However, the 2004 listing photos (in our data-base; sorry you can’t see them) show that the old ceiling has been covered, recessed lighting added, much brick has been covered with built-ins, and that the loft has been completely flipped (the current master bedroom is in the back, where the old living room had been).

In other words, they did a lot of work after buying in May 2004. Not a million dollars of work (especially at 2004 prices), but a lot. They had great bones to work with.

The Long-and-Narrow footprint offers three long-side windows, bringing much light into the kitchen/dining area and into 2 real bedrooms. Ceilings are still high enough to be called "high", even with recessed lighting and covering the sprinklers. The ten windows make it "unbelievably light-filled" and reveal "gorgeous" downtown views.

But (again) the news here is not the renovation but the pace. I haven’t noticed a quicker loft sale than this (contract in 19 days) and there must have been enough of a feeding frenzy in that short time that it sold $115,000 over ask (a 4.3% premium). It is nice to know that that old saw if you price it right they will come is still operative.

That sale computes to just under $1,200/ft for a small coop loft in a building with a roof deck but no other amenities. It may be silly to quibble with such successful listing agents, but I would not call anything on Crosby "one of Soho’s best streets", so this should not represent the best price available in prime Soho for a small coop loft. But a darn good price; one that the buyers evidently felt that had to pay, and did so happily.

old news (same attitude)
It is great to now have access to ancient sales data, so I have added to the Master List of Manhattan Loft Closings the data point that this loft changed hands the first time in March 1997 for $650,000. The notes reveal that that was the first sale by an original shareholder in this 12-unit coop; "original", going back to conversion in 1978. One can only imagine the likely primitive state of the loft in the first 20 years after becoming a coop, but judging from the enthusiastic prose in the 2004 listing and the underwhelming pix in our data-base from that listing, the 1997-buyers-turned-2004-sellers thought they had really improved the place. (It was said to be "magnificent" in 2004, but the pix show otherwise.)

more recent neighborly news (same attitude)
Careful readers will remember that Manhattan Loft Guy has been in this building recently. Very recently. #5S was the subject of my February 25, was it feng shui that got 45 Crosby Street sold?, after a deed was filed on February 23; that closing was February 6. (Welcome [back] Curbed readers!) That post has so much information that is even more relevant now that #7S has closed that (if you are still with me) you should refill your coffee before continuing.

In that post I compared the #5S closing at $1.85mm in February 2010 to #6S closing at $1.575mm in 2000, but I also related some sales history involving #7S in 2004. Indeed, I got so caught up that I finally said

This is too big a topic to continue digressing in this post, but I am Oh So Curious about this building now…. My head is spinning but I must stop.

I’m back.

The point of that February 25 post was that the feng shui angle did not appreciably assist the marketing of #5S and that the history of that listing (on and off the market for three years, with four firms, pricing starting at $2.899mm) shows that they really missed the market. Let me draw the parallels with the recent sale of #7S, then I will resist the temptation to go back to the 2004 sale of #7S. (Maybe another day, for this oh-so-curious building.)

the neighbors were smashed (not in a good way)
The structural advantage that #7S has over #5S is those 3 south windows along one long wall, and the living room skylight. (Maybe the extra height improves the light and views.) The #5S sellers seem to have been as proud of their renovation as the #7S sellers, but The Market reacted very differently to the two lofts.

The listing histories overlap only for a short time, but note how closely they overlap (in time, not price) when they get to that time:

  asking     contract
Feb 8, 2007 $2.899mm #5S    
May 23, 2007 $2.6mm #5S    
Jan 12, 2008 $2.65mm #5S    
Feb 14, 2008 $2.495mm #5S    
Sept 9, 2008 $2.29mm #5S    
Sept 25, 2008 $2.19mm #5S    
April 1, 2009 $1.995mm #5S    
Oct 9, 2009 $1.895mm #5S    
Nov 13, 2009 $2.65mm   #7S  
Dec 2, 2009     #7S $2.765mm
Dec 3, 2009   #5S   $1.85mm

(note that I have ignored the times when #5S was off the market)

a million dollar renovation?
(There’s that word again!) I understand that any renovation is personal, and that a buyer may not like a renovation as much as a seller. But the spread of $915,000 between these two contemporaneous contract prices is simply staggering. Personally, I don’t like the deep tub in #5S, but I have had a longer red wall than in #5S. #7S may be a nicer renovation, but it can’t be that much nicer,

Except that The Market — ever so cold, ever so cruel — thinks that it is.

I don’t get that. I really don’t.
Now imagine life in the building after November 13, when #7S came out as sellers nearly $800,000 above where #5S was. Both neighbors knew that anyone visiting one loft was likely to visit the other one. I imagine that the #5S sellers, tired as they were, were thrilled by the comparison, figuring (something like) "these knuckleheads are going to sell our loft with their impossible price". If both sellers were aware that they were both negotiating just after Thanksgiving (possible, but not likely), the #5S folks probably figured that #7S must be taking a deep haircut.

My imagination fails in predicting what the #5S folks felt when they found out where they were both in contract. First, they had to be relieved to finally being in contract themselves. But I don’t even want to consider what they may have felt when they learned that those @^$(*&^$)# neighbors signed a deal above  their @^$(*&^$)# asking price. I don’t even want to go there; it is way more than stopping to watch a car wreck….

Is this spread an indication of how harshly The Market penalizes sellers for being on the market for a long time at the wrong price?? I don’t get that. I really don’t.

(Forgive me …) The feng shui sellers were forced to contemplate the sound of the other shoe dropping. (It was loud.)


© Sandy Mattingly 2010


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