private sale of 150 Nassau Street loft with high-floor premium or neighborly extortion

first look can be deceiving (see update below about due dilgence here)

When I saw that the “1,723 sq ft” Manhattan loft #19A at 150 Nassau Street (at the corner of Spruce Street and opposite City Hall Park, basically under the Gehry) sold in a private sale to the upstairs neighbor on November 21 for $1.65mm ($958/ft), my first question was why it sold for 19% more than the “1,793 sq ft” #11A 13 months earlier, on a $/ft basis ($1.445mm, or $806/ft). Was the premium earned by the higher floor, or might that (tactically reluctant) seller have extorted the neighbor upstairs who needed room to expand? Boy … was that ever the wrong question!

In fact, the #19A seller was probably disappointed by the sales price, given the he (just!) missed The Peak and did not get the $1.995mm he really wanted:

April 4, 2008 new to market $1.995mm
June 20   $1.895mm
Oct 31 hiatus  
Aug 31, 2009 back on market $1.695mm
Dec 11 hiatus  
Nov 21, 2011 sold $1.65mm

second look is a rerun
This is a pretty conventional narrative, isn’t it? Guy waits just a little too long to collect the froth and prices too high for the post-Peak market; with bonus points for giving up 6 weeks after Lehman’s bankruptcy. Guy timed the thaw almost perfectly, but was still too rich for the post-nuclear winter market. You can almost see the smile on his face when the man upstairs answered his prayers (I mean the #20A owner, of course) by agreeing to the private deal at $1.65mm, netting the guy more than he was asking in 2009 (no sales fee!).

Before getting back to my original question of how this sale squares with #11A in October 2010, let me confuse you with some facts. The high water mark for the high floor “A” line at 150 Nassau Street (with footprints of either “1,723 sq ft” or  [various] “1,79x sq ft”) was in July 2007. That. too, is pretty conventional, but #19A looks very good in comparison and the tides have been somewhat erratic otherwise; if you can, scan this table quickly the first time, ignoring the last column:

$963/ft $1.725mm #15A July 25, 2007
$958/ft $1.65mm #19A Nov 21, 2011
$904/ft $1.625mm #10A Sept 5, 2006
$875/ft $1.507mm #20A  Dec 22, 2003
$869/ft $1,496,827 #19A April 8, 2004
$809/ft $1.45mm #15A July 1, 2004
$806/ft $1.445mm #11A Oct 6, 2010

(Note that the 2003 and 2004 prices for #19A and #20A were paid to the sponsor; note that the sponsor did absurdly well, compared to later resales.)

The groupings are (fairly) clear: the 2 at the top, the 2 at the bottom, and the middle. That #15A re-sale in 2004 looks low compared to the sponsor sales at the same time, which is weird. But the true outlier is that #11A last year. Take that one away and the rest make a great deal of sense.

looking at the loft
We don’t know exactly what condition the upstairs loft is in, other than that it was bought new 8 years ago. We do know that the downstairs piece was billed in 2008 and 2009 as having “magnificent light and city views and true loft living with high ceilings and a stunning renovation”, but that sounds like the building standard from 2003. Here are two “A” lines sets of babble, with very different market results yet essentially identical descriptions, word count aside (you will have to click here or here to see which is which):

[1] sophisticated Boffi kitchen with stainless steel counters and a huge walnut and Calacatta marble island stands next to a window and offers the best in SubZero, Miele and Viking appliances. The massive master bedroom suite includes a spa like bathroom with teakwood, Calacatta marble, Kohler fixtures, oversized tub and separate shower

chef’s Boffi kitchen, marble baths, Miele, Viking & SubZero appliances, Bosch washer/dryer

I bet that the guy upstairs will at least take apart the 3rd bedroom added to the #19A floor plan (original floor plan as in #11A here), but what else he does depends on how many bedrooms he needs and on whether there are any differences in view between the “magnificent light and city views” on 19 and those on 20 (not likely). Maybe I am just having a slow day today, but the hardest part of the combination seems to me where to put the stairway.

The guy’s numbers are interesting. Without taking into account the (considerable?) renovation expenses ahead, he already paid $1.507mm for half the space in 2003 and has gotten the other half for $1.625mm in 2011. An optimist would say that he has done well; only a pessimist would squint over the (relatively) high price in 2003.

fun fact
The sponsor thought the difference between the 15th floor and 4 flights up was significant (presumably, that is all views): #15A was only $1,038,714 from the sponsor in March 2003, so the resale in 14 months looks a lot better in that context than when I compared it to the sponsor prices for #19A and #20A.

Views ‘R Us (or, perhaps, are not)
#11A remains the outlier, with a resale history that suggests The Market punished it for staying on from mid-2009 without a significant break. (See my November 15, 2010, flight or fight? the disappointed seller’s conundrum, 30 East 21 Street and 205 West 19 Street lofts edition, or other posts with that tag.) Either that, or the views drive these “A” line prices and the #11A sellers were simply unaware (2 short hiatuses omitted) of that significant resale deficit:

June 25, 2009 new to market $1.825mm
Oct 23   $1.75mm
Dec 15   $1.65mm
Mar 5, 2010   $1.6mm
April 5   $1.499mm
June 19 contract  
Oct 6 sold $1.445mm

Note that the sponsor’s price for #11A in March 2003 was $25,000/floor below that of #15A in the same month but that the resales (6 years apart) were $5,000 apart. Not that that represents ‘narrowing’.

[UPDATE Dec 28: I just posted about some interesting due diligence issues at this condo, arising out of the conflict between never-ending water main repair by the city and delayed facade repair by the condo].

© Sandy Mattingly 2011


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