Manhattan Loft Guy readers are ahead of the Times about loft sale at 32 West 18 Street, by 7 months

though (just) behind the Post
I am sometimes aghast, occasionally enthralled, and once in a while simply filled with wonder at the workings of the Real Estate Industrial Complex, Manhattan Media division. If you are an avid spectator of the Manhattan loft market you will have noted the loft sale at 32 West 18 Street in the Flatiron reported in the Sunday real estate section of the New York Times yesterday; after all, it is said to have taken just two weeks and closed just above ask.

I have noted before that the Old Grey Lady does not claim that there are recent sales in the “Residential Sales Around The Region”, but including this sale in a 2013 newspaper is simply bizarre. Given the timing, even close readers of this blog will be forgiven for not immediately noticing that this sale was, when truly “news”, reported in the New York Post and the subject of my July 12, 2012, a tale of 2 lofts: did (removable) decor add $126/ft to value of one 32 West 18 Street loft?.

Color me filled with wonder, without the energy to be enraged. Can there be a better proof that this feature on a “news” page of The Paper of Record is a wing of the Public Relations departments of real estate brokerages? I very much hope that no one trying to keep up on the market puts any faith in this wing of the Real Estate Industrial Complex, Manhattan Media division. This feature is the equivalent of tombstone ads placed by financial firms announcing their participation in a huge stock or bond placement, except that financial firms buy that space, while real estate firms beg for this free space.

any excuse is a good excuse
The sale of the “3,007 sq ft” Manhattan loft #2A at 32 West 18 Street was reported in the New York Post on July 12, 2012 before the deed had even been filed, apparently because of the media celebrity of the sellers (and the opportunity to pun). I ran with it the same day because I had already been interviewed by the New York Times for a story about staging listings for sale (that later story led to my July 28, 2012, ruthless stagers, indeed! NY Times nails story about marketing apartments (and lofts!)) and the #2A sale just following the sale of the “3,292 sq ft” loft #2B next door was a fascinating laboratory in which to study how non-structural elements and presentation can impact value.

Here is the key takeaway from my July 12 post about two essentially identical-in-2007-and-little-changed-since-neighboring-lofts:

What amazes me is how different the lofts feel, yet how much of that difference will be absent after these two sellers moved out. When all the windows are open to 18th Street, and all the rugs and furniture and art work is gone, the lofts will look much more alike than they do in the listing photos. #2A will still have a limestone floor in the large public room, and the black-and-white fireplace wall will still be an eye-catcher, but you probably won’t then notice the difference in ceiling lights or levels.


One more time: I believe that these bits of ephemera drove most of the $92/ft difference in value in favor of #2A in 2012, more than erasing the 2007 difference of $34/ft that used to be in favor of #2B.

(That conclusion follows a long analysis of the respective listing photos and an [unusual for Manhattan Loft guy] aesthetic discussion.)

That July 12 post remains a personal favorite. The New York Times piece in that July 28 post is my best personal exposure in the Old Grey Lady. I should be thankful for her craven participation in the Real Estate Industrial Complex, Manhattan Media division for any excuse to hit those two posts.

Aside from the PR person at either the listing firm or the selling firm who deserves a bonus for persuading the Times to put a July sale in a February newspaper, does anyone else think this is a good use of “news” space?

© Sandy Mattingly 2013

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