agony + ecstasy at one 65 West 13 Street loft

how cold it was in those days!
If I were writing just about lofts I would say something like when the Manhattan loft #8D at 65 West 13 Street sold on July 6 it was up over 40% from its prior sale. And from the one before that. But I also write about loft owners, buyers and sellers, so I would also say something like when the people who owned the Manhattan loft #8D at 65 West 13 Street from 2006 to 2009 sold it, they wanted to achieve what their buyers did not set out to achieve: a three million dollar sale.

First, the sales price history of this “1,898 sq ft” loft:

  • May 24, 2006   $2.22mm
  • April 21, 2009   $2.2mm
  • July 6, 2011      $3,182,500

Second, the listing history associated with the last two sales:

July 23, 2008 new to market $3.2mm
Sept 29   $2.995mm
Nov 4   $2.85mm
Mar 5, 2009 contract  
April 28, 2011 new to market $2.9mm
May 11 contract  

Look again at the closing dates and prices above. Life is not fair, and neither is The Market. (The loft was in the same renovated condition in 2008 as in 2011.)

Note how those 2006 buyers waited just a little too long to come to market, starting within a few months of The Peak (not necessarily a huge problem, if they were priced right and if The Market reacted immediately). I would argue that the recent sale at $3,182,500 proves that the value at The Peak was at least that amount, but that there can be no question that the July 2008 ask of $3.2mm should have generted a bidder in that neighborhood within a reasonable period of time. Except.

Except that 7 weeks after coming to market at what looks like a market price, the bankruptcy filing of Lehman Brothers trashed The Market.

Give them credit for trying: that $205,000 price drop followed in two weeks, with a $145,000 drop five weeks later. The Market had by then settled into that nuclear winfter. The good news is that they did find one of the relatively few buyers willing to sign a contract in March 2009; the bad news is that the sellers had to discount the ask 23% to get that rare 1Q09 contract.

Those 2006-buyers-turned-2009-sellers walked away without $20,000, which doesn’t look too bad until you look again at what the asking prices were, which the sellers did (obviously). And even worse when you look at the July 6, 2011 sale price.

it could always be worse
Those 2006-buyers-turned-2009-sellers took a hit on their expectations more than their wallets. It took me a while to find it, but I immediately thought of another loft that went through a much worse (deeper) experience selling into nuclear winter.

A few blocks west of The Greenwich, the Manhattan loft #5F at 345 West 13 Street has a set of sale dates (below) nearly parallel to #8D at 65 West 13 Street, but a very different sequence of numbers. I have already written this story once, so let’s just go to my January 6, 345 West 13 Street loft is candidate for sale of the year, but the year was 2009 to see why that loft is a reigning poster child:

If you are keeping score at home, the most recent sale was 47% above the June 2009 sale but only 13.5% above the sale 4 years earlier.

The June 30, 2009 sale at $3mm was not so much strange as disastrous, as there were a lot of people unable to sell lofts during the nuclear winter for Manhattan’s residential real estate market, and a lot of people who sold for much less than they wanted. Until I find a better example, however, the December-2005-buyers-at-$3.875mm and June-2009-sellers-for-$3mm are the Manhattan Loft Guy poster child for how bad that nuclear winter really was.


One more time:

    • December 15, 2005 $3.875mm
    • June 30, 2009          $3mm
    • December 1, 2010   $4.4mm

Let’s put on the spectacles of hindsight, again. When they came to market in May 2008, they were in a changing market (prices were softening, which they could have known) and had 4 months before Lehman’s bankruptcy changed a challenging market into a nearly impossible market.

Had they started where they bought, they might have been able to sell at or around that $3.875mm and had a contract before Lehman’s fall. That would have looked to a buyer like a good deal, to be buying near The Peak at a December 2005 price, but for the same reason they would have been naturally reluctant to do that. Hard to say tough luck because this was their choice, so I will go with too bad.

I have already self-plagiarized enough, so go to that post for the excrutiating listing history of that winter’s tale. No question: that one at 345 West 13 Street was worse than #8D at 65 West 13 Street. Much worse. And a different kind of agony than merely having to heavily discount to get a deal. Still a reigning poster child.

© Sandy Mattingly 2011

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