for variety, 123 Baxter Street loft sells down 5% over 2008

not all Manhattan lofts are from Lake Wobegon

Just as the mirror has two sides, the loft niche in the residential real estate market in Manhattan has many sides. Some are above-average, and those sales that outperform The Market and/or that sail through The Market get a lot of media (and Manhattan Loft Guy) attention. Mature observers realize that any “index” (or other “summary” report) summarizes multiple data points, some high, some low, some so-so, but sometimes the lower end results get overlooked, leading some buyers to think that everything is moving against me, or some other woe-is-me equivalent emotion. To help maintain the emotional stability of such people, I present for your consideration the recent resale of the “1,088 sq ft” Manhattan loft #3D at 123 Baxter Street, in the somewhat troubled new development of 2006-08 in the somewhat fuzzy no-man’s-land that new real estate market maps call Chinatown even though it is hard to imagine “lofts” in the tenement dominated Chinatown.

The original owner paid $1,218,845 to eventually acquire it from the sponsor in June 2008, proving that the sponsor overshot the market in 2006 and in 2007 and in 2008. Because that guy was willing to get out at a loss (i.e., set and reduced his price to find The Market) we now know that his unit was worth exactly $1.155mm this month, a 5% decline in value. That result is rather lower than the StreetEasy Condo Index, which was up 1.3% in the same period (2,160 when he bought and 2,188 when he sold [the September index value, newly added by StreetEasy]). Not dramatically lower than the SE Index, but lower.

a large loft for its type, but not that large

For purposes of comp analysis and any other consideration of this unit, I am going with the “1,088 sq ft” in the listing description rather than the “1,411 sq ft” that StreetEasy associates with #3D. Whatever post-factual approach you take to square foot “measurements” of Manhattan residential property, there is simply no way that the space can be the higher number rather than the lower number  based on the floor plan and the listing photos (even in large format ;-)). If the room dimensions can be believed (ha!) the space is an uneven 32 feet wide, then perhaps 35 feet long; take the cut-away around the plumbing stacks into account, you’d easily be comfortable at “1,088 sq ft” and scratching your head over a number like “1,411 sq ft”. It matters for internal building comps, with StreetEasy making #3D a sore thumb at “1,411 sq ft” ($819/ft) that sticks out next to the “1,521 sq ft” #2A, which sold for  $1.7mm on June 5, or $1,118/ft before adjusting for the outdoor spaces in each unit. #2A is a real 2-bedroom and shows in pix and floor plan to be much bigger than #3D, rather than less than 10% bigger if they were “1,521 soft” and “1,411 sq ft”.

I take comfort from the fact that Property Shark has #3D at “1,088 sq ft” and #2A at “1,521 sq ft”, as StreetEasy and The Shark usually agree on such things. I didn’t find a condo declaration among the title documents linked to on The Shark, but I’d bet a quarter that the same schedule on the declaration that has #2A at “1,521 sq ft” has #3D at “1,088 sq ft”. (Note that StreetEasy has #2D at “1,100 sq ft” with what looks like the same footprint as #3D, with The Shark saying “1,079 sq ft”. Bet you another quarter The Shark matches the condo declaration on the nose.) The same-building June-to-October comps then become $1,118/ft for the 2-bedroom in June and $1,062/ft for the 1-bedroom in October (both unadjusted for their terraces). With the StreetEasy Condo Index up 3.2% in that time, that spread makes sense to me as reflecting the greater value in fitting a second bedroom into the space that sold in June.

Even at (only!) “1,088 sq ft”, #3D is a massive straight 1-bedroom in a 21st century new construction condo. The double-sink master bath, generous closets, and public powder room make this a comfortable 1-bedroom for a grown-up couple, with the terrace as a bonus entertaining space for much of the year. I suspect that in either of the Uppers, east or west,  at this price point a unit over 1,000 sq ft would have two bedrooms squeezed in. Not so the downtown market.

Back to the beginning: not all sellers insist on pushing the sales envelope, and not all listings go for a premium to what their owners paid. Next time someone claims everything is up (even over near-Peak) try to remember 123 Baxter. Hint: it’s the one that was famous for its parking system before (and without reaching the pricing stratosphere of) 200 Eleventh Avenue.

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