renovation premium evident as 720 Greenwich Street lofts sells for 29% over 2010

though extent of renovation is still somewhat unclear
This is how to let the world know the vintage of a renovation used to market a Manhattan loft: “renovated in the last year with …”. No need to worry about what an agent may think of as “recent”, or “new”, or even (sadly) “brand new” (as we discovered about particularly shameless marketing, in my July 11, “fully renovated” 39 East 12 Street lofts sells at 14% premium to 2010, with pre-2010 renovation). When the (probably*) “1,200 sq ft” Manhattan loft #6A at 720 Greenwich Street came to market on February 7 the broker babble was enthusiastic and wonderfully that specific about when the loft was renovated:

Lovingly renovated in the last year with amazing attention to detail as exemplified by the tin ceiling in which every single panel was individually installed. This Corner residence perfectly blends prewar character with contemporary design. …The coveted A line faces South and East providing quintessential views of charming tree-lined streets and brilliant light all day long. The large kitchen has top of the line Sub- Zero and Bosch appliances, Carrera Marble countertops, a new subway tile back splash, all new hardware, a Wine Refrigerator and a white oak island. Additional features of this XXX mint home include, an open and very spacious living room, ebony-stained maple hardwood floors, upgraded electrical throughout including recessed lighting, well thought out built-ins, outfitted closets, newly installed reclaimed wood pocket doors into the second bedroom and both bathrooms are done in travertine marble.

That they felt the need to describe only some of the detail that followed as “new” (such as new subway tile back splash, all new [kitchen] hardware, and newly installed reclaimed wood pocket doors) suggests that dating a less-than-gut renovation raises interesting problems; discussed further below, alas.

The sales history lines up exactly with a 2011 renovation, causing me to wonder why someone would go to all this trouble (“the tin ceiling in which every single panel was individually installed”) to barely get the enjoyment of living there:

Nov 11, 2010 sold $1.7mm
Feb 7, 2012 new to market $2.15mm
Feb 29 contract  
June 5 sold $2.22mm

That is 3 weeks to contract at a slight premium to the ask; can’t ask much more of a marketing campaign than that.

Granted, we have seen larger gains than this on a 2012 sale over 2010 without any intervening renovation, but there are only so many Jedi mind tricks in the market at any one time. (July 5, did a Jedi mind trick garner 40% premium over 2010 for a small loft at 107 West 25 Street? )

a Manhattan Loft Guy fave, with a curveball warning
Previous posts about lofts in this pretty large building (158 units):

Once we are focused on renovation premiums, as in this post, that November 22, 2010 becomes relevant. Even highly relevant. That post discussed two same-line sales to try to assess how valuable a triple mint renovation in one of them was. That analysis was complicated by the fact that one of the sales was recorded close to the trough in the overall Manhattan residential real estate market, but there was enough grist there for a good discussion.

That very valuable renovation probably established a building record at that time for dollars-per-foot (building page here), but here’s the deceptive pitch: that super valuable renovation was of loft #6A before it was renovated (again) in 2011. For those who haven’t clicked over to that highly relevant post yet, here is how I set up the Loft Lab:

In the laboratory of the Manhattan loft market, there are two specimens in 720 Greenwich of interest. One sold in July 2009 for $1.075mm. Said to be “1,200 sq ft”, the key marketing factors for the interior of the loft were (a) “a fabulous floorplan” and (b) “Exposed Brick in every room”. I kid you not! Suffice it to say that the typically cynical buyer of Manhattan lofts would assume that this interior space lacks other charms, so may need to be upgraded, if not uprooted.

The other specimen has the same footprint but was coy about size when it sold ten days ago. It was certainly not coy about the many charms of its interior, dropping babble such as “Stunning”, “contemporary gem”, “totally renovated in XXX Mint Condition”, “maple hardwood floors, 9’ custom maple doors, slate window sills”, “honed granite countertops with top-of-the-line appliances and custom maple cabinetry”, “baths [with] travertine marble walls and floors, with a soaking tub and luxurious shower”, “Stereo wired throughout”. That’s a lot of babble for a “1,200 sq ft” loft, but who am I to quibble?

That gem sold for $1.7mm on November 12 [, 2010].

The babble and photos from 2010 and 2012 establish that loft #6A was renovated between selling at $1.7mm in November 2010 and $2.2m last month, but as I hinted above in parsing the “new” babbling, it is less than crystal clear how extensive the renovation was. The baths were probably not touched, as they are travertine throughout. The maple flooring has a natural finish in the Before pix, but is babbled and shows as ebony After. Of course the ceiling is new!

The kitchen has been changed, from granite countertop to Carrerra, with that “new” backsplash and “new” hardware; I suspect, sadly, that the former “top of the line” appliances are the same as the current top of the line Sub- Zero and Bosch appliances. There are no large format photos available from 2010, but you can see the last marketing campaign with full page pix on the Corcoran site. Comparing the old (pic #3) with the new (pic #4) is inexact, but it appears the island has grown and that the lighting is new.

All of this Before-ing and After-ing leaves me in a state of confusion, if not despair. Yes, loft #6A was renovated between 2010 and 2012. But it was also renovated between 2005 and 2010. Both renovations provoked very favorable market responses, but I (again; still) wonder what the buyer thought about how extensive that 2011 renovation was, and considered that some of what appeared in 2012 as a “perfect[] blend[ of] prewar character with contemporary design” pre-dated the “Loving[] renovat[ion] in the last year with amazing attention to detail as exemplified by the tin ceiling in which every single panel was individually installed”. The evidence was there, in public on Streeteasy and in any REBNY member’s listings data-base.

My fear is that that buyer paid for some renovation that was only thought to be new, only because she thought it to be new. Caveat emptor, indeed.

paging Sergeant Esterhaus
Let’s be careful out there, folks.

(*As noted in the late text, StreetEasy thinks #7A is “1,200 sq ft” when it sold (brrr) in 2009, with an ‘official’ floor plan that matches up with #6A; ballpark the room dimensions and you will guess that the “A” line can’t be larger.)

© Sandy Mattingly 2012

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