20-26 N. Moore Street loft sells quickly if you don’t count 2008 and 2009

what do you get?
The Manhattan loft #5W in the twin building coop 20-26 N. Moore Street finally sold on July 28, after coming back to market on February 6 and finding a contract by April 22. Why “finally sold” if it found that contract in 10 weeks? It is that “after coming back to market” angle, so let’s go into the weeds of the full listing history … after noting the details of the sale and playing with the floor plan and renovation.

Not surprising for the 2010 trajectory, the clearing price of $2.5mm is only a slight discount from the ask of $2.595mm (3.7%). At “2,700 sq ft”, you would expect there to be at least the potential for 3 or 4 bedrooms, as the listing description notes, especially with “[f]our exposures [and] abundant light”. However, the footprint is not as flexible as you would guess and the current floor plan is … errr … challenging. Oh, and this bit of the babble is about as gentle as selling babble can be, while communicating an important point: this loft is “an older renovation”.

it is not the age, it is the flexibility
An older renovation that is perilously close to a 2,700 sq ft
One Bed Wonder, if you tend to believe (like the City of New York) that a “bedroom” should be wider than 6’ 9”. An older renovation that is, like a true One Bed Wonder, not suitable for living by people who sleep in more than one bed, with the only full bath in the master suite. The challenge of this floor plan is not so much that it is “older” as that it is not very flexible. There are no easy fixes.

To add real bedrooms to the current layout, you’d probably use the two west windows, but then you’d have to swing the kitchen around (in or adjoining the current laundry room?). The easiest way to add a second full bathroom would be to put it behind the kitchen, next to the powder room, but then you’d either lose the second “bedroom” or make another en suite full bath.

So … unless the new buyers have the same preference as the sellers (large open spaces, infrequent need for a second sleeping area), your architect will take out the proverbial drawing board and design a wonderful space with 3 or 4 bedrooms, 2.5 or more baths, and a renovation bill of around a half million bucks.

Given that it sold quickly in 2010, I wonder if the new owners just moved in, or started a do-over renovation.

what do you count? (but I digress…)
Although the 2008 and 2009 listing history for this loft is very interesting (I will get to it soon), there is no reasonable way to count Days on Market for the July sale of #5W as anything other than beginning on February 6, 2010.

But I want to note a conversation I had recently with Noah Rosenblatt of UrbanDigs about Days on Market. The short version is simply that this is yet another example of how not having a true Multiple Listing Service disadvantages people who want to really track the market (whether they are agents or civilians). A real MLS would have standards about counting Days on Market to avoid people gaming the system by, for example, entering a “new listing” for a listing that is being extended; indeed, a real MLS would have standards, period.

I see no indication that REBNY has any interest in this topic, so even people who are trying to be systematic about it take different approaches. The Miller counts days to contract from the last price change; his theory is that something is not really exposed to the market until it is at a price from which The Market will negotiate. I get his point, and understand that he has been using his own standard for many years, so it has a significant legacy value.

But The Miller’s approach is arbitrary in that it ignores time on the market before trivial price changes (such as a drop from $1.995mm to $1.95mm, intended by the agent and seller to get fresh attention as a Price Drop, but which should attract no more interest at $1.95mm than it did 2.3% higher).

I don’t know that I have ever articulated the standard I use for my Master List of Manhattan Lofts Sold Since November 2008, but it has a seriously arbitrary element, as well. My goal is to capture how long a Manhattan loft has been continuously offered for sale, so I skip over “temporary” periods off the market (whether with the same firm, or a change in listing firms). My arbitrary cut off for “temporary” is 60 days, and I am tempted to go higher when I see one that has a gap of just a bit more than 60 days, especially if that is over the summer.

different marketing periods, different markets
In looking at #5W at 20-26 N. Moore Street, there is nothing controversial in saying that it was on the market from February 6 until the contract April 22, and closing July 28. Nonetheless, the full listing history is interesting.

You will recall that The Peak in Manhattan real estate was more or less the first quarter of 2008 and that the Post-Peak market did not change dramatically until Lehman Brothers filed for bankruptcy almost exactly two years ago. And that the “drama” included a nuclear winter.

The full listing history for #5W shows all that (and more!): over-optimistic pricing after The Peak; unsuccessful attempts to adjust after Lehman; continued marketing in 2009 at prices lower than it later sold for in the fresh market of 2010. Again, there is no new lesson illustrated by the travails (and eventual success) of #5W, but I want to give a shout out to a Poster Child when I see one.

Without much further ado….

June 7, 2008 $3.1mm
June 20 $2.95mm
September 22 $2.75mm
October 17 $2.6mm
December 2 $2.395mm
March 9, 2009 $2.2mm
April 10 off the market

At the risk of continuing to beat the horse well past efficacy, I would like to note a few dates and prices, keeping in mind that The Market determined that #5W was worth $2.5mm when it went to contract in April 2010.

  • if you are one of those people who looks at the macro Manhattan market as being off 20% since The Peak, the $2.5mm clearing price in April 2010 is within that range of the June 2008 asking price
  • see the buyers flee! the immediate post-Lehman market was characterized by an absence of buyers; hence #5W could not sell off four asking prices from $2.75mm to $2.2mm, despite being exposed to The Market for more than 6 months, and despite being within normal negotiating range of the eventual clearing price
  • it probably would not have done them any good to stay on the market after April 2009, especially near that last $2.2mm ask; #5W was by then at least perceived as a tired listing, if not a bruised, battered and shattered listing

Fun stuff!

One last huzzah: The Market refused a sale at $2.2mm, yet The Market later granted a sale at $2.5mm. Must have been different markets, right?

© Sandy Mattingly 2010


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