hyper-local market for 18 East 12 Street mini-lofts is up 14% YoY

a head scratcher’s special
It is an understatement to say that The Market loves the “970 sq ft” Manhattan loft #2A at 18 East 12 Street. In 2011 it took 25 days to find a contract and only 40 days to close; the recent campaign took only a little longer (contract in 39 days, closed in 74 days) but was even more successful (selling at $1.395mm on January 7, compared to $1.225mm way back on November 16, 2011). Whether measured as contract to contract or deed to deed, that’s less than 14 months to re-sell at a $170,000 premium, or 14%.

If you can find a difference between the loft then and now you are a better Guy than I am. The floor plans (then, and now) are direct copies, down to Mr. Murphy on his wall. The pictures (look at 2011 in large format on the Corcoran site) show identical structure and elements (down to the kitchen island light fixtures and the 1985-era cabinetry). The 2011 broker babble claimed vaguely that the space has been renovated; the more recent babble claimed “stone counters, stainless steel appliances, under-mount sink, glass tile backsplash, storage pantry and breakfast bar with seating for four” plus “twin solid-core wood pocket doors, new hardwood floors”, all of which are visible in the 2011 pix or floor plan. (The doors are fully open [not visible] in the old photos, but the same track is there.)

Does anyone think that the overall Manhattan residential real estate market is up 14% in 14 months? I don’t either.

You might wonder if the 2011 seller sold too quickly (25 days to contract!) and too low ($1.225mm), but the fact is that she started then at $1.295mm and had to negotiate (apparently, with only one serious bidder). In contrast, the 2011-buyer-turned-2013-seller had to wait 39 days for a deal (ha!) but got the full ask of $1.395mm.

reality check, until reality gets sliced too thin
The 2011 market was not demonstrably different from the 2012 market. Using The Miller’s numbers in his 10 Year report the average and median prices in the overall Manhattan market were down nominally YoY 2012 to 2011 (0.7% and 1.8%), with transaction volume up 3.4% in the later year (p5 of the report).

If you want to drill down into sub-markets, the data get dangerously thin. The Miller counts only 41 1-bedroom condo sales in Greenwich Village in 2012 (and 56 in 2011). You can play with the numbers on page 48 of the report, but you will play alone; these numbers are too small to draw conclusions about one particular sale.

The more relevant data to loft #2A at 12 East 18 Street are the two sales, 14 months apart, the second just a week into 2013. Problem is, these data don’t make sense to me. Nor does the fact that this last #2A sale set a building record on a dollar-per-foot basis, whether you count #2A at “970 sq ft” (as the two listings did) or “1,000 sq ft” (as StreetEasy has it). (The StreetEasy building page is here; the reigning champion had been the #9C “1,900 sq ft” duplex combo in January 2007 at $2.521mm, despite there being 3 later sales here in and toward The Peak.)

is the guy in the wrong line of work?
The 2011-buyer-turned-2013-seller has such an unusual name that The Google should drool over. It seems he is an actor, with deed notice addresses suggesting he came to New York fro Sweden to make it on stage then (perhaps) was lured to film on the west coast. Unless I see him soon on an Oscar list, I will continue to think of him as a real estate flipper par excellence.

Or, maybe he just got lucky. Either way, no way an outsider should complain about flipping in 14 months, plus $170,000. That is still $60,000 net after paying a sales fee and transfer taxes.

© Sandy Mattingly 2013


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