serendipity: 113 Prince Street loft that took a year to sell took 113 days to file deed

nothing happens quickly here, apparently
The sale of the “1,490 sq ft” Manhattan loft #5ER at 113 Prince Street is another example of not new news (like in my November 23, 67 Hudson Street loft closes off 9% from 2005, with long history) but it is interesting nonetheless, in a Manhattan Loft Guy obsessive kind of way. First, the sucker took a year to sell, starting on June 5, 2010 and selling on June 7, 2011. Second, the deed signed on June 7, 2011 was not filed until September 28, a frustrating gap for people who follow The Market and which set me off on a search for whether there are penalties for such late filings. Third, it cleared at $1.39mm, compared to a last ask of $1.59mm and a first ask of $1.85mm, in a 3-building 16-unit coop in which nothing had changed hands since The Peak. You want more?? Fourth, the layout is funky, even challenging.

Let’s look first at the loft and the marketing, before getting into the inside baseball of deed filing foibles.

even a ‘flexible’ layout can be challenging
Not a lot of bragging in the broker babble, with these highlights:

perfectly located between Wooster and Greene streets. This is a one bedroom open loft plus office with an extra sleeping area. Has a flexible layout with high tin ceilings, wood floors, exposed brick walls, washer/dryer in the unit and private storage in basement. The apartment is very quiet.

The most obvious challenge to the floor plan is that the 4 windows are at one end, and given that the building sits on the north side of Prince and the babble heralds that it is “very quiet”, these would be north windows, facing the rear or side of buildings fronting on Wooster or Greene (as in #5ER as on the 5th floor of the east building in the rear). The plumbing stacks appear to cluster around the middle of the east wall (i.e., not very flexible), further supporting the logic of putting a master suite on the window wall, but leaving only two windows for the public areas.

I wonder if the rooms near the door were added at some later point, closing off what had been a public bath into the back of a ‘sleeping area’ that is itself accessible only by going through the oddly shaped office. And I don’t think I have ever seen a kitchen as oddly configured as this one, with appliances at three corners zigging and zagging.

great bones
The major draws are height and what’s on the height: probably 13 foot ceilings covered in tin. Even on the PruDE site, some of the pictures are fuzzy (what’s up with that?), but the lack of bragging and the ‘feel’ of the place suggests this is a somewhat primitive space with a relatively new kitchen.

That photo of the fireplace, however, is awesome. I hope it really looks like that in real life.

Net-net, this is a perfectly livable classic Soho loft that can be moved into as is, or configured by someone who wants more space and can live with interior bedrooms, to open up the window wall. Look back at the schedule to see how difficult it turned out to be to attract the right buyer.

fewer feet, more mints, more money in 2007
The loft right downstairs has a slightly different (smaller, at “1,350 sq ft”) footprint, and that #4ER sale on February 26, 2007 at $1.45mm is the last similar loft to sell in this coop. The spread between #4ER at $1,074/ft and #5ER at $933/ft can be explained by condition. There was a great deal of bragging about #4ER when it was marketed:

classic, XXX mint loft defines Soho style. Featuring extraordinarily high tin ceilings, java-stained original restored wood floors, oversized windows, and a spacious layout, this property is unparalleled. This just renovated one (open) bedroom features state of the art kitchen with stainless and glass Sub Zero refrigerator, Fisher Paykel dishwasher, Miele convection oven and six burner range. The 2 beautiful bathrooms are tiled floor to ceiling in tumbled marble, juxtaposed with seamless glass shower doors; Dornbracht fixtures throughout.

That floor plan (taken from a later unsuccessful listing, here) shows that the missing feet are near the entrance and that #4ER has much less flexibility than even #5ER. But the level of finishes for the smaller loft is clearly much higher than for the larger. If you assume that market conditions were roughly similar in early 2007 compared to this year (as I do, based on my paired resale analysis of September 27, is the Manhattan loft market back to (up to) 2007? 61 repeat sales say “probably”, “a bit”), the spread of $141/ft seems a bit low, based on condition, but more rational based on the greater utility in #5ER.

Note that #4ER did not sell in late 2009, when the overall Manhattan residential real estate market had definitely been thawing for a while. No surprise, then, that #5ER could not sell in 2010 above #4ER’s 2007 clearing price, or #4ER’s failed 2009 asking price. The wonder is that they thought that it might.

no penalties for filing a deed late, but …
I put this loft sale aside when I saw it nearly 2 months ago, as it was one of a series of loft sales with very late filed deeds that I observed around that time. I wondered why deeds are filed late, and whether anyone (other than me) cares about this as a data ‘problem’.

I was not surprised to learn (from the coop and condo attorney who blogs at CoopAndCondo.com that New York City does not officially care about late-filed deeds, but that it cares very much about money. Counselor Gitter advised that city regulations require the transfer tax returns and payments be made within 15 days of closing, and there are escalating penalties thereafter (first month’s penalty is 10% of the amount owed, then 2% per month).

While there is no requirement that I am aware of that all the paperwork get filed together, I suspect that the deed (with no penalties) gets filed with the tax returns and payments as a matte of course, as happened with loft #5ER. The dates on the deed record on StreetEasy match those for the city and state transfer tax payments in ACRIS: document date June 7, filed September 28. In this case, they filed late having paid $39,367.50 in fees.

Why? No idea, but it cost somebody $5,511 in penalties if I am counting late days correctly. Not a trivial amount, even for a seven-figure transaction.

You’d think that would be enough incentive to file things on a timely basis, including the deeds. You’d be wrong, in at least some cases.

© Sandy Mattingly 2011

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