heavily discounted 133 Mercer Street loft just couldn’t compete

when bad things happen to good lofts
Trust me to explain (below) that the Manhattan loft on the 3rd floor of 133 Mercer Street that just sold for $1.75mm sold off of this listing instead of the 2011 listing that Streeteasy associates with the sale, so that we can start with the way this loft was abused by the market, instead of wondering why seller took a nearly 25% haircut many months after trying to sell. (We’ll get to that … promise.) Here’s the nut: the 3rd floor seller thought his loft was precisely comparable to the loft immediately above him that sold for $2.2mm on February 24, 2011. The market did not agree, persistently and emphatically, eventually deciding that the spread between these two same-building lofts was $450,000. As they say around these parts … comping is hard. The 3rd floor seller would agree (now).

we have to start upstairs
The 4th floor loft was an easy fit for the market at the end of 2010: coming out at $2.325mm on November 17, finding a contract by December 10, and closing at $2.2mm on February 24, 2011. The footprint is classic Long-and-Narrow, except for the array of windows: only one on the narrow rear wall, but one at that end on the long south wall and three windows halfway back on the long north wall; these windows permit the master suite to be up long north wall, with the second bedroom extending across the back of the loft with 3 exposures. All the plumbing is in the middle, including 2 bathrooms and a washer-dryer.

The broker babble boasts of light only in the front of the loft (“soft eastern light”) and none of the pictures suggest there is much light coming in from any other window. (There is no photo recognizable as the master suite; the second bedroom photo features more fire escale than light in those windows.)

The overall claim is that the 4th floor was “beautiful[,] elegantly renovated”, with some modest details: an “impeccable kitchen [with] top-of-the-line appliances including Sub-Zero refrigerator and wine refrigerator, Viking Stove and Bosch dishwasher”; a master bathroom with “mosaic tiled steam shower and seat”; plus central air and an in-wall sound system. The bones include 10’6” ceilings and a brick wall running the length of the loft.

The 4th floor suffered some heartbreak earlier in 2010, however. StreetEasy treats the marketing that began on January 13, 2010 by the same agent using the same photos, floor plan and broker babble as a separate listing. They started then at $2.495mm before dropping to $2.295mm. They got to contract by June 30 but that contract never closed, and they were back on the market on November 17, 2010, as above.

comping is …
That sale st $2.2mm on February 24, 2011 was rather relevant to the 3rd floor owner. Here is the full listing history, which surely implies that the seller believed his loft was the equal of the 4th floor loft.

May 26, 2011 new to market $2.295mm
Aug 2 hiatus  
Nov 23 change firms $2.25mm
Nov 28   $1.995mm
Jan 19, 2012   $1.875mm
Feb 23   $1.75mm
May 15 contract  
Aug 17 sold $1.75mm

Contra the 3rd floor owner, this history surely establishes that his loft was not in the same class as the 4th floor.

Part of that disadvantage is structural. The 3rd floor floor plan has but one bath, so no en suite bedroom. The side windows permit a bedroom away from the rear wall, in this case the second bedroom.

Part of that disadvantage has to be the condition, which is not as “beautiful[,] elegantly renovated” as the 4th floor, based on the testimony of the photos and between the lines in the babble. I will quote the guts of it so you will see how modest the babble is:

The living space is open and the use of space is flexible – allowing for a full dining area and a large living/entertaining space and perhaps an office area utilizing the room’s floor to ceiling bookcases. The kitchen is open to the enormous room and the front windows border Mercer Street to the East. One window is a full height working door – if you prefer to hear Soho’s sounds or enjoy a sunny day. The apartment has one enormous bath with a soaking tub and radiant floor heating and a good sized laundry and storage room. The master bedroom is large with plenty of built-in storage and the second bedroom also has a wall of built in storage.

All the descriptors are about scale rather than mints! (I cheated by italicizing them above.) The market didn’t buy it at $2.295mm. Or $2.25mm. Or the $2.2mm garnered by the 4th floor. Or $1.875mm. After 8 months of marketing, it took 2 months at $1.75mm to get that.

If that $1.75mm value sounds familiar, you probably remember seeing it (way back) in the 4th floor history on StreetEasy. That loft sold for $1.75mm on July 8, 2005. Way back, indeed.

touching your feet
As you see from he StreetEasy building page, the (full floor) lofts in this building have been described as anywhere from “1,750 sq ft” to “1,500 sq ft”, with “1,700 sq ft”  a pretty common claim. In our listing system the range is even larger, from “1,900 sq ft” to “1,500 sq ft”, with stops at “1,800”, “1,700” and “1,650”. But as you will see from comparing the 3rd floor and 4th floor floor plans, the lofts have the same exterior walls.

I am going to make a judgment call here, and use “1,700 sq ft” for all these lofts in Master List of Manhattan Lofts Sold Since November 2008, as the plurality result, rather than different sizes for what are clearly the same-sized lofts. That change brings the 3rd floor sale down to $1,029/ft, more in line with lofts on the Master List in less distinguished locations than fashionable Mercer Street (below Prince). Still 10% higher than the well-dressed loft 2 blocks due north that I hit in my September 12, “noted architect” will be disappointed that “incredible” 200 Mercer Street loft went for $939/ft, however.

fun fact
In 1992, the 3rd floor sold for $345,000. I would not be surprised if the kitchen then was very similar to that in the latest marketing.

© Sandy Mattingly 2012

Tagged with: , , , , , , , , ,

Leave a Reply