45 Lispenard Street loft takes a year to sell at small discount to ask, 11% premium over Peak


‘tis a puzzlement

The Market just loved the “1,800 sq ft” Manhattan loft #5E at 45 Lispenard Street, as we see from the fact that it sold on April 25 at $2.2mm after selling at near-Peak for just $1,988,500. Any repeat sale 11% over Peak shows a whole lotta love. The conundrum, however, is that it took over a year to sell (9 months to contract) at near-trivial discounts from the various asking prices in the marketing campaign:

April 30, 2008 sold $1,988,500
Mar 14, 2012 new to market $2.395mm
May 16   $2.295mm
May 24 co-listed  
Sept 1 hiatus  
Oct 2 change firms $2.365mm
Nov 29   $2.25mm
Dec 21 contract  
April 25, 2013 sold $2.2mm


The highest ask was 9% above the clearing price; other asking prices were 7.5%, 4.3% and 2.3% above the final price. It should have sold off that $2.295mm in Spring or Summer of 2012, right? Particularly as the last broker babble was VERY (sorry about shouting) excited about the hyper-local market: “on the newly acclaimed LISPENARD STREET where sales on this street are BOOMING!!”

a nearly ideal layout

Regular readers of Manhattan Loft Guy know how much I like square lofts. The typical nearly square loft footprint is on a corner, with two exposures, providing a great deal of flexibility for room placement. This floor plan has the unusual benefit of a near-square with windows north and south, truly bringing light into nearly every square inch of the loft whenever the sun shines, not to mention “at night you have wonderful city views from this high floor overlooking Soho for miles and miles”.

You have to work with the plumbing stacks where they are, but the only thing to quibble about with this layout is that the bathroom for the second (interior) bedroom gets the two northeast windows, rather than the “bedroom”. Make no mistake, that is a mere quibble: the layout is as close to perfect as the plumbing allows. I have seen it, and agree that the photos “do not do the space justice”.

Speaking of plumbing, there’s one detail that is delightful that is too small to mention in the babble or to feature in a photo. In that half-bath by the entry there are two windows; I don’t even remember the one over the sink, facing east, but someone at some point spent a lot of money to open that sliver window north (over the toilet). It is so small that you’d easily overlook it on the floor plan, but guys are going to notice right away (trust me, ladies) that the narrow slit perfectly frames the Empire State Building. A delightful detail, indeed.

To recap: the footprint allows 3 sleeping rooms (with one interior and one being used as a library by the sellers), 2.5 baths, a large open kitchen, enough separation to have a dining area that does not cut into the living room, all in a space that is hardly massive for a loft (“1,800 sq ft”) but has the 10 foot barrel-vaulted ceilings and walls of windows that touch those ceilings both north and south. You’d think it would sell quickly, but not having done that ….

reading history as it happens … hard

My buyer saw this loft in the 3 weeks that it was asking $2.25mm. That was more than he wanted to pay for a loft, but he was interested because even photos that “do not do justice” show that this is very nice space, nicely finished. Of course he loved it, though it was still more than he wanted to pay. He didn’t exactly try to low-ball it, but he made an offer that was logical in view of the fact that it had sold in April 30, 2008 at $1,988,500 and that the loft had been for sale for a relatively long time (certainly, compared to other lofts he liked in Tribeca), without selling.

Turns out, of course, that logic does not always apply. The Peak market suggested this loft should sell around $2mm at the end of 2012. The mid-2012 market response suggested that around $2.25mm was not being offered for this loft. He did not regret avoiding a bidding war with the eventual buyers at $2.2mm (it was still more than he wanted to pay), but he was disappointed. The Market seemed to suggest he had an opening (did the November 29 price drop suggest another drop would come??), but The Market is simply the aggregated decisions of individual buyers and individual sellers.

This seller really did want $2.2mm and found buyers really interested in spending that. Apparently, those buyers either weren’t in the market in Spring and Summer of 2012, or could not find the way to Lispenard Street back then.

As much as comping is hard (it is), reading market responses and comps in real-time can be even more difficult.


© Sandy Mattingly 2013


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