5 years later, Tribeca loft adds $1 million to building values

crude measurements of value are still measurements, right?

The “2,068 sq ft” Manhattan loft #5S at 459 Washington Street in extreme northwest Tribeca just sold for $3.625mm in a somewhat newsworthy transaction. (“Somewhat newsworthy” in the sense that the Luxury Listings wing of The Real Deal media clan reported it last week because the new owner runs a “healthy cafeteria chain” (!!).)  The big picture detail of interest to Manhattan Loft Guy, however, is that this is the first sale in this small (12-unit) residential loft building in nearly five years, following a three year period in which four units sold (Past Sales tab on StreetEasy, here), the last of which was not quite a million bucks short of the recent sale.

Before breaking that down further, let me take a swipe at the Luxury Listings part of the Manhattan Media Division of the Real Estate Industrial Complex. The only thing reported as a listing history is that the loft had been “asking $3.8 million in 2014”, which suggested to me that this was a private sale. Nope! Had Luxury Listings gone to StreetEasy, the reporter would have seen that the loft had, in fact, been offered for sale from May 2013 to April 2014 for from $3.95mm to $3.875mm, but that it had also been offered for sale beginning in May 2016, the offering that resulted in the contract that the cafeteria guy signed in January.

Here’s the full listing history from StreetEasy:

May 1, 2013 new to market $3.95mm
Sept 26 hiatus
Nov 5 $3.875mm
April 17, 2014 off market
May 5, 2016 new to market $3.95mm
Sept 19 $3,799,500
Jan 20, 2017 contract
Mar 8 sold $3.625mm

A couple of things …. These sellers really wanted to sell at $3.95mm. These sellers learned that $3.95mm was too much for The Market to swallow in 2013 and in 2016, but they also learned to make a bigger price cut to find a buyer.

It’s odd that Luxury Listings didn’t find this full price history, because they grabbed listing photos from the 2016 marketing campaign. Weird!

Look at the first six listing photos in the Luxury Listings piece: they all have the Douglas Elliman watermark. The next set of listing photos is a slightly different size, with no watermark. Go to StreetEasy for the explanation: the latter set is from the (successful!) Sothebys marketing effort. In other words, Luxury Listings went to the trouble to find more listing photos from 2016, without noticing that there had been a marketing campaign in 2016. Sad!

past sales history history is instructive, if not determinative, in a small Tribeca loft building

There’s no shame in asking more than The Market wants to spend, of course, as (repeat after me) comping is hard. Especially for small building old school Tribeca lofts (which tend to be unique), and especially where there hasn’t been recent sales activity in the small building.

The last sale in the building was #6N, slightly smaller than the “S” units at “1,945 sq ft”. With one major exception, however, it sounds much like #5S, with an unspecified but “gourmet” kitchen, and classic loft elements. The light sounds better on the top floor facing north (“three sunny exposures”) but the element that breaks this unit as a comp is the private roof deck, over 400 sq ft. So the $2.65mm clearing price in October 2012 needs more adjustment than is easy to make to be very useful as a comp for #5S. (I’m gonna ignore it, as there are easier ways to skin this cat.)

The two prior sales in the building were the fourth floor pair, with #4N selling for $2.2mm in January 2011 and #4S for $2.6mm in July 2010. Not a lot of bragging in either listing description (same agents on both, with same generic descriptions), so it is hard to appreciate the stark difference in value without having seen both units.

If you take #4S as the most appropriate comp for #5S, we’d adjust for time and condition (#5S is much nicer, based on broker babble and listing photos). No need to adjust for light or view, even though #4S claimed “spectacular water views” and #5S only “an abundance of natural light”: obviously, they have the same exposures, and since 2010 the 10-story rental building at 456 Washington Street has gone up just across the street (see the living room “view” that leads the #5S listing photos … brick!). So the former (presumed) premium for a water view has been lost, while #5S enjoys a much higher level of finishes than the #4S listing implied for that unit. Let’s ballpark those differences as a wash, if only for lack of principled ways to be precise (and because it makes the math simpler!).

If you take the StreetEasy Manhattan Price Index as a useful proxy for the overall market (I do, but its become a long story), the overall market is up 33% between July 2010 (you gotta hover, $737,336) and December 2016 ($984,463). The observed #4S sale price of $2.6mm in July 2010 thus implies that #5S would be worth about $3.47mm in the just-observed market report from the most recent StreetEasy report.

Pretty darn close to the $3.625mm observed price (4.5% feels PDC, especially given the assumptions made about evening out the former premium for the water view in the #4S sale and the condition premium in the #5S sale).

my favorite listing photo is a classic Manhattan loft element, ready for its close-up

Before leaving northwest Tribeca, I’d like to comment on two listing photos. First, the good news:

love the way the beam is secured over the column

This is something I would marvel at if I were in this space, likely making a nuisance of myself by standing in front of this column, looking up, with a silly grin on my face. Your mileage may vary.

On the other extreme, the photo of “the spacious chefs kitchen” irks me. Nothing undercuts the “spacious” part like a wine fridge outside the kitchen:

most people won’t care, but …

The reason the wine frig looks a bit out of place is that it is a bit out of place, having been plugged into an outlet just outside the kitchen. What a difference it would make in integrating the kitchen if the wine fridge had the same cabinetry on top as the Sub-Zero. Alas.

Manhattan Loft Guy loves loft owners who love lofts

Luxury Listings reports that the cafeteria guy who just paid $3.625mm for his new loft in northwest Tribeca owns a penthouse loft at 130 Barrow Street. That would be this “1,103 sq ft” duplex penthouse loft with a terrace and private roof deck that was marketed as a bit of a project (“awaits your golden touch”) when he bought it in April 2014 for $1.785mm. The cafeteria business must be good!

Now the guy has twice as much space, though he lost his private outdoor space. And he’s about as far (as close, really) to the Hudson, moving all of about ten blocks due south from the West Village to northwest Tribeca.

Manhattan Loft Guy loves loft owners who newly love lofts

One more and I’ll stop, promise, but that deed record leads me in another direction. The cafeteria guy was renting this lovely prewar 1-bedroom with a great view in the West Village in 2014. From there, to that Barrow Street loft (a move of nearly ten blocks due south), and then to the much larger Washington Street loft. Business must be very good!

Perhaps he will stay for a while.

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