opportunity in Tribeca lost, and quantified, as buyer delay over that darn storm at 92 Laight Street loft cost about $200,000

same river view, same River Loft, but more money to buy with less water

Here is a graphic indicator of market velocity, at least in the Manhattan residential real estate market niche of uber-condo loft properties in far west Tribeca: there’s a very good reason why the “2,128 sq ft” Manhattan loft #6D at 92 Laight Street (in the tower portion of River Lofts) did not sell when offered for $4.5mm from August 2012, yet it sold on December 4 for $4.71mm. I missed it at first, even when looking at the detailed history from that 2012 campaign, but the reason the loft did not sell then but did sell this year has to do with the river, but not in a good way: that contract last year was signed October 9, 2012; remember what happened a few weeks later? Among other tragedies from that storm, a parking attendant in the garage below River Lofts was killed when the river came down the ramp. (New York Times, here.) As of nearly 5 months later, the lobbies and mechanicals were still so damaged that residents had not yet returned to these two buildings (416 Washington Street is the older, er … more authentic loft-y part), per a Seen and Heard update from the estimable Tribeca Citizen on March 13.

Had the closing of that October 9 contract for loft #6D preceded the storm by even a day, title would have passed and the new owners would have found themselves homeless immediately. (I don’t know the contract price, but assume a full price deal.) Here is some really cruel economic hindsight: if those October 2012 (non-)buyers had it to do over again and knew exactly what would happen with building repairs and The Market, might they have elected to close anyway, perhaps getting  a break from the seller on common charges and taxes until the loft was habitable again?

Not everyone could have afforded to do that, even in my hypothetically prescient world, as there would still be a mortgage to pay, but it’s an interesting fantasy question. Instead of closing in November 2012 at $4.5mm (probably), someone just closed on December 4 at $4.71mm. That $210,000 would have paid for a lot of mortgage (even monthlies, if no discount from the sellers who couldn’t have lived there either, for a long time) and still had money left over.

Of course, the October 2012 (non-)buyers could not have known when the building repairs would be done (the start in June 2013 and stop in July and re-start in September suggests the sellers didn’t know either, even when they thought they did; note this from the June listing: “River Lofts is in the process of installing a new lobby”) and could not have known what The Market would do. In the event, The Market (as measured given a feel for by the StreetEasy Manhattan Condo Index) was up 11% in that year, which is actually smaller than the gain from the 2012 ask and the 2013 clearing price.

Enough with the hypotheticals, let’s look at the loft….

not a lot of public room in this luxury 3-bedroom loft

The most interesting thing (to me) about the floor plan is that the living and dining room is not very big; indeed, it is probably smaller than the master suite. I assume the furniture display on the floor plan is from sponsor marketing in 2005, but do you see how close the living room seating is to the kitchen island, and to the dining room table? Yikes. After you fit in a large master suite and two decent-sized other bedrooms, and then account for an entrance hallway and a left-turning gallery to get to the public space … there’s not much public space left in “2,128 sq ft”. Even the combination of kitchen plus living/dining is not much larger than the master suite.

Interesting choice by the developer, obviously preferring the 3 current bedroom set-up to 2 bedrooms with a much larger public space. (Imagine a master suite oriented down to the entrance instead of across, with only one other bedroom: the kitchen could then be pushed back to align with the entrance.) I’m not saying they were wrong (The Market suggests the opposite), just that it is interesting how non-loft-y this floor plan is.

And, yes, The Market likes the way this “2,128 sq ft” footprint has been allocated: the folks who paid $2,204,511 to buy in July 2005 just got out at $4.71mm.

And, of course, this is a luxury condominium, with “[e]very detail … thought through from the high speed wiring ,to the plank floors to the Varenea kitchen complete with subzero refrigerator, bosch stove and miel dishwasher and washer/dryer”, to the direct elevator access to the garage that helps make this a magnet for shy celebrities. That $4.71mm comes to $2,213/ft (before adjustment for a very modest balcony) for a 2005 version of an uber-condo loft, the luxury of which is likely surpassed by the 2013 vintage commanding even more stratospheric dollars per foot.

Sellers did all right, even after living through the can’t-live-here post-storm period (d’oh: $2,204,511 into $4.71mm; and $4.5mm [probably] into $4.71mm more recently). I do wonder about how those October 2012 non-buyers feel after all that, but I will have to be content with just wondering. Alas.

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