why move to 4,000 sq ft 71 Murray Street loft from 44 Laight Street 4,000 sq ft loft?

not likely for a doorman
It is not quite right to say that the “4,021 sq ft” Manhattan loft #4A at 44 Laight Street (the Grabler Building) that sold on August 17 at $4.06mm (which was the subject of a post on September 26, below) was traded for the “4,002 sq ft” Manhattan loft on the 3rd floor of 71 Murray Street (the Hastings Building) that sold on August 22 at $3.96mm. But the Murray Street buyers moved there from the Laight Street loft.

Voyeur that I am, I started out trying to figure out why someone would do that: go from a very large 3-bedroom loft in northwest Tribeca to another very large 3-bedroom loft in south Tribeca. One has 3.5 bathrooms, the other (only) 3; only one has a doorman; only one has a garage; one may be newly zoned for PS 3 in the West Village, instead of the Tribeca school, PS 234; one is very close to the Holland Tunnel, the other is very close to Whole Foods….

Perceptive Manhattan Loft Guy readers may have detected in past blog posts an attitude that could be described as … anal (moi??) … and so can imagine my attempts at a projected analysis that could (might) support the hassle and expense of moving from one Tribeca loft worth just over $4mm to another of the same size worth just under $4mm.

borrowing a shaving device from Occam
Before going much further, there is a wrinkle that may explain this in a way that focuses more on the similarities of the two lofts than on their differences: the 44 Laight Street seller was an LLC, while the buyers at 71 Murray Street were two individuals whose notice addresses were the 44 Laight Street (i.e., they may have been renters, not owners/sellers at 44 Laight Street). This 2009 rental listing for #4A at 44 Laight Street strongly suggests that the 71 Murray Street loft buyers were residents (but not owners) of #4A at 44 Laight Street. That, and the fact that the last 44 Laight Street #4A LLC mortgage document was signed for the LLC by a different individual than the 71 Murray Street buyers.

It is highly likely that the 44 Laight Street residents moved to 71 Murray Street because the owners sold #4A out from under them … that it had nothing to do with the relative merits of a garage or a doorman, or of Holland Tunnel gridlock compared to Chambers Street water main construction.

That simple explanation would explain a few other things, as well. Such as why the 44 Laight Street sellers were in contract so long before closing (from February 15 to August 17; to give the tenants enough time to find their own place??). And such as why the 71 Laight Street closing followed so soon after the contract (August 4 contract, August 22 closing; buyers were in a hurry!). (Not to worry: I will not speculate about where the tenants lived between moving out of 44 Laight and the 71 Murray Street closing….)

last sales: covered!
As it happens, I have hit the most recent sales in both of these buildings.

In my October 20, 2010, interesting price history of 71 Murray Street loft bought by Famous Couple, I found the price history worthy of italics:

To loop back to my start, the 10th floor has sold twice since the original offering, with this price history:


May 14, 1999 $2,036,500
May 31, 2005 $3,420,000
Oct 6, 2010 $3,900,000

The market value nearly doubled from 1999 to 2010, but about three-quarters of that gain was in place by 2005. Fascinating!

You already know that the 3rd floor recently sold at $3.96mm, just a tad better than the 10th floor (with “excellent” light and “dramatic northern city views”) a year ago. Both lofts have the same ‘backwards’ layout, with those “dramatic northern city views” visible form the bedrooms instead of the living room.

The 3rd floor sales history is incomplete on StreetEasy, but the sponsor price is in our data-base (without the transfer taxes, most likely):

May 4, 1999 $1.2mm
Dec 15, 2003 $2.6mm
Aug 22, 2011 $3.96mm

That sponsor sale looks like one of the white-box sales in 1999, so is not directly comparable to the (fully built out) 10th floor sponsor sale. It is a pity that the first resales don’t line up more closely, but with only 17 months between the 3rd floor at $2.6mm and the 10th floor at $3.42mm, it appears as though The Market put a significant premium on the 10th floor way back Before The Froth. Personally, I believe that The Market is up a bit since last year, so the 10th floor at $3.9mm a year ago and the 3rd floor in August at $3.96mm is consistent with the view that The Market still prefers the 10th floor (but not as much??) and that the prices have risen since then.

As I mentioned up top (and as you may even recall) I hit the #4A sale in my September 26, 44 Laight Street, where another flipper scarfed most of the gain, but did he work for it?, in which The Story was in the title. But I also hit the building in my June 2 post about the May 9 sale of loft #2A, stubborn loft seller at 44 Laight Street takes a year to get right (great!) price, in which the title also told That Story. The puzzle of these two “4,021 sq ft” “A” sales is the spread: #2A sold at $4.9mm, #4A at ‘only’ $4.06mm. Read the posts, but the answer has to involve a (much!) higher level of finishes on the 2nd floor, unless The Market is less rational or efficient than even I think.

© Sandy Mattingly 2011


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