lure of the great outdoors drives value of Soho penthouse loft at 118 Wooster Street

it ain’t the ‘needs updating’ condition

The “1,238 sq ft” (interior) loft #6B at 118 Wooster Street in the heart of Soho that just sold for $2.45mm didn’t sell because of the quality of the interior space. Although there’s a fancy red refrigerator, there’s no bragging about interior finishes or materials in the broker babble (indeed, the kitchen pic suggests cabinetry straight outta the ’80s). No, this top-floor loft sold for $2.45mm for the same reason behind the featured listing photo: the “800 sq ft” private roof deck.

there’s a lot of sky on top of even 6-story buildings in Soho (thx Triplemint for the pics)

The interior not only “needs updating”, it lacks flexibility.

it is what it is, exactly

You can’t move the kitchen or 1.5 baths, and if you expanded any of these plumbing rooms you are eating into the space in a big way. Same with the spiral stair that takes you to the private roof space. While the space needs updating, your renovation choices seem to be limited to whether to have an open or closed sleep area on the south wall, or whether to trade more closet space next to the spiral stair for the existing ‘office area’.

Unless I am having a particularly unimaginative day, “updating” means changing surfaces, appliances, fixtures, and the like. Maybe you’d gut the interior to do that, but you’re options are still pretty limited.

open the sleep area or not? keep the (weird?) decoration in front + on top of the sleep area, or not??

The kitchen is very functional, hardly luxurious, and quite big enough in the scale of the entire space.

a love-it-or-hate-it frig?

(I bought a loft in 1993 with the same [then dated!] kitchen cabinets in [not-yet] NoMad, which didn’t reach the ceiling in my loft, either.)

babbling misdemeanors, at least

Between the two interior photos above you have at least a glimpse of all of the interior space, with the exception of the bath and half, and the small foyer. How would you describe the ceiling height you can see? If you would say “about 9 feet” you might not have a future in sales. The folks who successfully sold this loft said “as high as 20 foot ceilings throughout”, which is pretty … er … enthusiastic, given that the “massive glass atrium that drenches the whole apartment in light all day long” appears to be something less than the (10 ft?) width of the sleep area.

No doubt, it is a nice feature, but it is difficult to see how that atrium would stream light into the kitchen, let along drench the kitchen in light.

playing with numbers, in feet, dollars, and $/ft

There are eight listing photos (the ten images, in all, include the floor plan and map). Fully half of the listing photos are of the roof deck. Given that the interior is “1,238 sq ft” and the roof deck “800 sq ft”, this is a modest over-emphasis on the smaller upstairs, but in terms of value the emphasis is understandable. This loft, suitable for a single person or a single couple, sold at all because it is (a) in prime Soho and (b) has a relatively large private roof deck.

To ballpark how much of the value of the loft is based on that roof deck, we have to estimate the value of the interior space. Fortunately, a third floor loft at 118 Wooster Street sold last May. The “1,840 sq ft” combo loft #3CD closed for the ask of $3mm (StreetEasy has a deed record that refers to only part of the combo loft #3CD; don’t be confused by that). That loft was marketed as “stunning”, with a marble bath, chef’s kitchen, and some proper proper namedropping of brands and materials. In other words, not a ‘needs updating’ loft. Also, 2.5 baths and “nearly 10′ high ceilings”, but I digress ….

What’s the difference in the interior condition of #6B and #3CD? Bringing the top floor interior up to match the quality of the third floor would take (let’s guess) $200/ft. That implies the value of the interior of the top floor is about $1,430/ft, for a total interior value of approximately $1.77mm. Hmmmm …. That leaves about $680,000 of the established market value of the interior plus roof deck for the roof deck alone, or about $850/ft. While that result (just under 60%) is only a little outside The Miller’s general rubric for valuing outdoor space compared to the interior (25% to 50%; the uninitiated will want to refer to my May 6, 2010, riffing with The Miller on the value of Manhattan terraces, decks + balconies), that still strikes me as still a bit low.

I’d argue that there should be a scarcity premium for this outdoor space. I’d argue that the marketing emphasis on the outdoor space recognizes a premium beyond the norm. I’d argue about this for too long, realizing that we are just ballparking here, and making a series of untestable assumptions. So I will stop arguing.

Let’s just say that the outdoor space drove the value of the penthouse loft at least slightly beyond expectations. Then we can argue about the red frig.

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