fab 160 Wooster Street loft learns even beauty has to be priced right

10 months to contract in a Seller’s Market

Here’s the thing about a Seller’s Market: it only benefits a seller who prices right (enough). For the “1,746 sq ft” Manhattan loft #2C at 160 Wooster Street at the top of Soho, it wasn’t enough that the loft was a “[s]pectacular triple mint spacious convertible 3 bedroom, 2 bath Condo loft home in one of Soho’s most intimate doorman buildings and on Soho’s finest block” or that it has “unbelievable light streaming in from oversized northern and eastern windows”, or that it was “meticulously renovated and designed by the cutting-edge design firm ‘Openshop’ [with n]o expense spared or detail overlooked”. (Details and drooling continue, below.) No, what this loft needed to attract a buyer was the right price. In this case, it seems that the key was not so much the level as the first number. A look at the very first Manhattan Loft Guy table in the new platform (thanks, Anonymous Geek Friend, for adding that functionality, which I will figure out how to enhance, eventually) will show you what I mean:

May 31, 2012 new to market $3.175mm
Dec 28 $2.975mm
April 15, 2013 contract
Sept 23 sold $2.965mm

That’s nearly 11 months to contract, in a Seller’s Market for sure, for sure, yet the whole affair resulted in a deal only 7% off the original price. That suggests that the price problem was the “3” and that (I am thinking out loud here) that the loft did not compete well with other lofts offered with a “3”, despite this loft’s many glories. It may also be that this lovely specimen was Openshopped in such a specific way that it needed ‘that special buyer’ (the one with tastes that matched the seller’s) to make a deal. After all, it still took 108 days of being offered at $2.975mm to get to contract a mere 0.3% off the ask.

what being ‘Openshopped’ looks like is hard to see in the pix

I regret not having seen this beauty in real life, as I suspect that the listing photos do not do it justice. The broker babble is very enthusiastic, as noted in my opening, and very detailed. You can’t tell from StreetEasy but the recent sellers bought it in December 2004 with the same floor plan and some very high bend finishes as a new development. (They also got a relative discount at $1,629,200, perhaps for signing the first  contract, perhaps for being the second floor; #3C and #4C closed in March 2005 at $1,883, 762 and $1,934,675, respectively.) Back in the day, the surviving description in our listings system claimed “Sleek kitchens & luxurious baths [with] Valcucine Kitchen w/Subzero, Viking, Miele, Thermador & Bosch appliances [and] Toto & Waterworks Bath fixtures”. So the Openshop folks were working from a well-built luxury product, circa 2004.

The babble theme is that the loft has been “meticulously renovated and designed …. [n]o expense spared or detail overlooked!” but the new details are hard to identify. They are probably the “custom fabricated pored resin countertops” in the kitchen, the “meticulously detailed walnut built-ins” in the living room, “an integrated stereo system with surround sound, control panels in every room and … speakers … built seamlessly behind the walls so they are invisible to the naked eye”, the “one-of-a kind walnut built-in king bed, desk and built-ins” in the master, some of the second bedroom  (“designed like a full boutique hotel room has a wall of closets and a built-in office”, and the various “custom designed closets.”

Starting with luxury, then upgrading through an effort like that of Openshop can be a risk, if the idea is to profit by the expense. Without knowing the budget, there’s no way to now how the math worked, but we can see that The Market (eventually) decided that the #2C renovation was worth a premium.

let’s play Beat the Neighbor!

It appears as though loft #4C was in original 2004 deluxe condition when it resold for (only) $2.575mm in February 2012. Having paid a lot more to buy from the sponsor (that $1,934,675 in March 2005), the #4C original owners saw a gain of (only) 33% last year. In a stronger market, the original #2C owners paid $1,629,200 and saw a gain of 82% before deducting the cost of Openshopping. Remember: they started with a deluxe property, appear not to have changed the configuration, flooring or major systems, and may not have touched the bathrooms. If they spent as much as $200/ft to not overlook any details in the “1,736 sq ft” unit, they are still in the 50% and seven figure ranges.

Some of that is the difference in market condition when #4C sold and when #2C sold. Using my new best friend, the StreetEasy Condo Index, as a proxy for the overall Manhattan market, the overall market went from 1,890 to 2,170 from February 2012 to August 2013, a gain of 15%. For purposes of playing with numbers, add 15% to the actual sales price of #4C a year and a half ago and you get $2.961mm. Uh oh ….

Maybe The Market did not love the Openshopped #2C, after all. In theory, the StreetEasy Condo Index implies that #4C (adjusted for time) and #2C were roughly even in value. Under this approach, there is no market premium for however many dollars went into the meticulous renovation of #2C that left no detail unexamined. Funny, that. (Unless you are the seller, or Openshop.)

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2 comments on “fab 160 Wooster Street loft learns even beauty has to be priced right
  1. seth rogers says:

    not to nitpick but this is really a 2 bed/2 bath correct?

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