scion sells strong, as 249 Church Street loft gains 35% over 2005

I appreciate the Observation
The Observer on Monday night observed that a loft changed hands at a very interesting price, which I saw when The Real Deal linked to that news yesterday morning. As usual, The Observer is quick to note deeds but has trouble with rounded numbers, but I very much appreciate the info as I did not get to update the Master List of Manhattan Lofts Sold Since November 2008 on the weekend as I usually do. The Observer includes the key news from a Manhattan Loft Guy perspective (that the Manhattan loft on the 4th floor of 249 Church Street sold on June 30 at a significant premium to the asking price), while getting off on the identity of the seller and some wordplay by the buyer. We’ll get back to that.

a darned odd strong sale
The “1,588 sq ft” 4th floor loft came to market on May 17 at $1.995mm, found a contract by June 18, and rocketed to a closing on June 30 at $2.15mm. Per The Observer, the agent ascribed that dramatically successful (and brief) conclusion to the marketing campaign to a scarcity issue:

“It’s a great property since there really aren’t that many condos in this size in a building this small,” Mr. Kearns told The Observer. He said this is why the apartment was bid up over the $1.95 million ask, going to contract in 31 days and closing two weeks after that. “It hit a nice target,” he said.

Maybe, but I am not sure if there is a pent-up demand for not-so-large lofts in small condo buildings. No doubt: The Market loved this loft at this price.

What makes the result so odd (to me) is not that this sale is 35% higher than the previous resale, on January 28, 2005 at $1,587,500, although that is impressive in its own right. What strikes me as most odd about this sale is that the functionally identical loft on the 3rd floor did not sell at a lower price in 2008.

If you are of the view that The Market is still down at least 10% since The Peak, how do you reconcile the 4th floor sale at $2.15mm with the unsuccessful campaign waged by the 3rd floor 3 years ago:

Feb 12, 2008 new to market $2.5mm
Feb 20   $2.395mm
Mar 20   $2.275mm
June 2   $2.1mm
Aug 12 off the market  

Reasoning’ backwards from the 4th floor at $2.15mm, the 3rd floor ‘should’ have sold around The Peak at $2.36mm or more. Yet the 3rd floor did not sell despite asking $2.395mm for a month, $2.275mm for 2+ months, or even $2.1mm for another 2+ months.

That’s just … odd. Especially because the last time these two lofts sold, the 3rd floor sold at a premium to the 4th floor: at $1.695mm on March 30, 2005, compared to the 4th floor on January 28, 2005 at $1,587,500.

functional equivalence
Both lofts offer 2 bedrooms plus an interior den or third bedroom, and two full baths. The 3rd floor floor plan has some angled walls and traded a smaller 3rd bedroom for larger other bedrooms, compared to the right-angled floor plan on the 4th floor. I don’t read the respective babble as there being much difference in the finishes in the two spaces, though the 4th floor emphasized the steel + glass wall in the interior room while the 3rd floor bragged about “full mint Waterworks baths”.

As noted, I have trouble reconciling these two neighboring lofts, on what used to be a much-too-busy-corner of east Tribeca.

If, as Mr. Johnson says, patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel, my last refuge is that The Market is not rational. That may make me the Manhattan Loft Scoundrel. Or not.

scion did good
The 2005-buyer-turned-2011-seller of the 4th floor loft has parents who made his name a true household name all over New York. (Am I the only one who remembers that his mom got into a spot of trouble before leaving The Law for food-guide-dom??) Apparently he is a big deal at Facebook, unless “[h]aving joined Facebook in April” only means that he as a late adapter for his generation and just signed up for an account. Whatever, eh seems to have out-performed the Manhattan loft market on both legs of his round trip, so props for that.

© Sandy Mattingly 2011


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