very patient (and secretly negotiable) famous seller finally sells 497 Greenwich Street loft at 17% discount


why do people do that?

The seller of the “1,661 sq ft” Manhattan loft #6B at 497 Greenwich Street (the Winka Dubbeldam-designed Greenwich Street Project) told The Market she wanted $2.35mm, but when push (eventually) came to shove she sold for $1.95mm, a 17% discount without an intervening price drop in a notoriously seller’s market. I have never understood that approach, preferring to suggest that my sellers who are willing to deeply discount announce that fact to the world by … you know … discounting the price, instead of entertaining low ball offers. There had been a tenant in place, so perhaps there was little urgency, and perhaps the seller got more motivated when the tenant stopped paying rent. This deal took 364 days to contract at a $400,000 discount, but there’s a long history of this seller not selling. Into the Wayback Machine, Mr. Peabody:

April 2, 2008 new to market $2.75mm
May 7   $2.6mm
June 17   $2.495mm
Oct 5 hiatus  
Sept 16, 2010 back on market $2.395mm
Oct 20   $2.25mm
Mar 16, 2011 hiatus  
Jan 31, 2012 back on market $2.35mm
Jan 29, 2013


Mar 28 sold $1.95mm

market stages, stages of marketing
This is a fascinating history, even if you don’t know who the seller is. Start with the fact that she came to market 2 days after the calendar quarter that (still) represents The Peak in the overall Manhattan residential real estate market, and gave up (the first time) 3 weeks after Lehman’s bankruptcy plunged the overall Manhattan residential real estate market into nuclear winter. Opportunity missed, big time.

Next, consider the next attempt, at an initial price a little above where she started her last (successful) campaign, with a price drop below her last (most recent) ask. Unlike the first time, when she was pretty much forced from The Market, she gave up this time after (only!) 6 months.

Third time’s a charm, though not especially remunerative. She came back to market January 31 last year at $2.35mm, where she sat until accepting a deal at $1.95mm with a contract by January 29 this year. (Where must that negotiation have started, if it ended $400,000 off?) The 364 days in between (2012 was a Leap Year, for you anal types) suggest a lack of urgency, much as the 17% negotiated discount suggest boredom with the whole marketing thing.

loving not wisely, but too well
Look where she started ($2.75mm, in early 2008) and look where she ended up ($1.95mm, 5 years later). It is fair to say that she way over estimated the market appeal of the loft, right? A lot of owners do that (it is a bane of existence for selling agents). In this case, who “she” is makes it more interesting. Here’s the recent broker babble:

This meticulously designed loft, fuses cutting edge style, with sophistication and architectural detail. The Greenwich Street Project, designed by award winning architect Winka Dubbeldam, has emerged as one of the boutique condominium leaders for downtown New York. The state of the art loft, also designed by Winka Dubbeldam, consists of high ceilings, open spaces, sliding walls and the highest standard of finishes.

In case you flew by it, the building was “designed by award winning architect Winka Dubbeldam”;  the “state of the art loft [was] also designed by Winka Dubbeldam”. The deed record has the seller as an LLC, which owned the loft since only the middle of the 2010 marketing campaign (don’t look at that deed record yet). The very first marketing campaign in 2008 has the answer to this riddle (emphasis added):

Architect Winka Dubbeldam has designed a building that has changed the face of the lower west side of Manhattan. This is her loft. Housed within Dubbledam’s groundbreaking 497 Greenwich Street-a stunning faceted glass curtain wall facade folds onto an existing renovated 19th-century industrial building-the loft is spacious, open, undeniably modern.

The home an architect creates for herself is the ultimate marriage of form and function, with a nuanced play of surface and detail that amplifies the clean lines that are the hallmark of this one-of-a-kind loft. Floors are of Ipe hardwood and terrazzo; walls, of artisan-quality silver-tinted plaster. The kitchen, which also contains a pantry, is Valcucine; appliances are state-of-the-art. The kitchen cabinets and counters express a dynamic geometry of wood, stainless-steel, and vibrant colored carbon fiber. Striking horizontal glass doors by Mobileffe separate the den and bedroom from the expansive great room. The masterbath is luxurious. Lighting throughout is by Artemide. This is design at its apex-fluid, simple, harmonious, breathtaking.

Whether instructed to or not, the first listing agents played up the identity of the owner and the … wonderfulness … of the building to near sycophantic levels. (“The home an architect creates for herself is the ultimate marriage of form and function, with a nuanced play of surface and detail that amplifies the clean lines that are the hallmark of this one-of-a-kind loft…. design at its apex-fluid, simple, harmonious, breathtaking”.) (Make that beyond sycophantic levels.) In this light, asking $2.75mm seems a matter of personal pride.

Did the Greeks have a word for it? (I am thinking: hubris.)

go ahead, call me sweetheart (I won’t mind)

For those of you with extreme empathy, you may feel some sympathy for a seller who wanted $2.75mm but whom the philistines in The Market would give only $1.95mm. This should help you get over that: she paid $509,125 when she bought it from the developer in 2005, a price that sticks out like s sore thumb on the StreetEasy building page. At $306/ft that was the best new development bargain in Soho, if not Manhattan, in 2005. (To pick just one, the “1,602 sq ft” #4A deed cost $1,128/ft in March 2006.)

That must have been an interesting personal tax return in 2005, as I presume she accounted for the difference between what she paid and market value in some manner. Professional compensation? Gift?? And a complicated tax return to be done for 2013, with the (apparent) gain of $1.44mm.

funny, we were just talking about that (“west” Soho)

I don’t feel badly about identifying the seller here, not least because her name has been all over the marketing campaign and it is a very interesting factual angle to this sale. Also, because the Manhattan real estate blog of record identified her as the owner of the loft while she was began trying to sell the last time (after the LLC took title for $0). That would be Curbed, of course, in a post that discusses the glass wall between the master’s bed and the master’s throne. As always, read the Curbed comments at your own risk, but I was struck by the diversion of whether 497 Greenwich Street (1 block north of Canal and 4 blocks south of Houston) is really in “Soho” because it is west of 6th Avenue.

I sympathize with that complaint, as should be clear from my designation yesterday (May 7, 330 Spring Street loft sells near par from 2006 (an improvement)) of the nearby Urban Glass House as in “The Greater Ear Inn Micro-Nabe (TGEIMN™)”. I just don’t think that TGEIMN has the same cachet as “Soho”. Maybe what some want to call “west Soho” should be “Near Ear”?

Spread the word….

© Sandy Mattingly 2013


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