354 Broadway loft owners won’t freak out about recent sale

‘cuz they know what’s a free market loft sale

One of the dangers of scanning StreetEasy for recent sales of Manhattan lofts is that the data can be tricky. Take the “4,004 sq ft” Manhattan loft on the  5th floor at 354 Broadway that just “sold” for $3.87mm. The hard part is not matching that loft with the prior listing that appears to have been active into 2013; the hard part is, first, realizing that that prior listing actually relates to the loft when it sold 3 years ago for $5mm and, second, that the recent “sale” was a transfer from one trust to another related trust, and (putting first and second together) obviously below market. (The 2010 purchase was at $5mm, after all.)

I would think that this would be obvious to any serious observer of the Tribeca loft market, but I worry.

The estimable Tribeca Citizen included this sale in his weekly recap of Tribeca sales, not because he doesn’t know any better but because he is just catching deed records. And any of his readers (or others) who want to understand the market will either recognize that price as anomalous or will probe enough to note the related trusts involved. I assume. But I wonder if the outlier filters on the StreetEasy Condo Index would ignore this sale as at a “too low” price, even though a same-loft resale. (Note to self … do a post talking about the details, and limitations, of the StreetEasy methodology for the Index.)

But if this obviously related transaction had been closer to The Market, say, flat to 2010 at $5mm, would people notice? I hope so. (Family Trust A “sold” this thing to Family Trust B for $3.87mm for reasons having everything to do with the organization of this family’s trusts and nothing to do with The Market, so in this case it is mere luck to us observers that the “sale” was so obviously low.)

same-building loft sales comps are good, but same-loft resales can be better

It gets complicated …. $3.87mm for the 5th floor is “obviously low” only because of that prior arm’s length sale. Looking at other loft sales in the building (without considering that prior same-loft sale) would lead one to confusion, as $3.87mm does not stand out on its own quite so boldly by reference to other sale numbers.

The same-family-trust-to-trust “sale” at $3.87mm comes to $966/ft. The last sale in the building was the smaller 7th floor (“2,810 sq ft”) on July 19, 2012 at $2.7mm, or $961/ft. Maybe someone would assume that this price makes sense, with the impact of the stronger market in October 2013 being offset (more or less) by the higher floor 15 months earlier. That would lead to trouble, methinks.

Before that, the prior sale was the penthouse for $3mm on October 12, 2011. That one was in a less strong market than the current one, of course, and less strong than 10 months later when the 7th floor sold. That was “2,810 sq ft” (like the 7th floor) but it has much more outdoor space than the terraces of the 5th and 7th floor (a “2,500+ sf private roof deck”, with another “[a]pprox[imately] 1,000 sq ft of buildable air rights”). Maybe a market observer would put the recent 5th floor “sale” into a box that could be rationalized with the 7th floor and penthouse sales one and two years earlier. Yes, it gets complicated ….

Why is the 5th floor so much more valuable than these other lofts on higher floors? It probably has to do with the fact that this has the brick walls and high (14 feet!) ceilings that give this part of the building classic loft character (this was originally the top floor; the 1999 condominium conversion added 6 floors on top), but it is probably driven more by its condition (“newly renovated and state of the art”; see pix #4 and #5 for one of the art-y states that hides a television screen). Remember: the loft was worth $5mm on the open market in 2010 (after having asked nearly $8mm).

2005 was a very busy year here

If you’d like to tie yourself into even tighter knots, you could go back into the building history. You’ll see that 5 units sold in public sales that year, with the 5th floor at the top price but the 6th floor at the highest price per foot ($874/ft, 23% higher than the 5th floor on that metric). StreetEasy lacks any old listings here of that vintage, but our data-base shows that the 5th floor had not gotten the “state of the art” renovation, while the 6th floor was already “finished to the nines by the home owner who happens to be a reknowned fashion designer”. (This is her on-line shopping site.)

Or you could go back to the relative values when all the units were sold by the developer in 8 months beginning June 1999. But that will be much more distracting than it’s worth.

Instead, let’s keep it simple: the 5th floor loft is beautifully renovated and sold for $5mm on the open market three years ago. It hasn’t declined in value since then. A “sale” at $3.87mm by one family trust to a related family trust does not change that reality. That is all.

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  1. […] the StreetEasy Index about how those filters might handle the non-sale sale in my October 21, 354 Broadway loft owners won’t freak out about recent sale. Short story: they are comfortable that “sale” would get filtered by an algorithm that […]

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