my Master List of downtown Manhattan loft sales has changed, just a bit

it’s still hard to track The Market, especially in a niche like downtown lofts

Time for an update about my efforts to follow the downtown Manhattan loft market by tracking weekly (ahem, often weekly) newly filed deeds; more precisely, about how my efforts have been made more difficult (though not thwarted!) by mega-decisions by the StreetEasy front for the Zillow empire; even more precisely, about how the result is not (yet?) as reliably comprehensive as the former iteration, but the current version of my Master List is pretty darn good (with a new color!) and still the only game in town for folks who are specifically interested in the loft niche of the Manhattan residential real estate market.

Let’s break down that multi-bite mouthful. In my October 6, ain’t easy keeping track of Manhattan loft sales, and getting harder, I described the changes that StreetEasy made to the way they present data and permit it to be searched, and how they removed a wonderful way to track only newly filed deed records in bite-sized (and customizable) time periods. The only bit of good news from the StreetEasy front is that the Sold search is now reachable from the Sales homepage, under the Comparables link toward the upper right corner.

The bad news is that there is no work-around, no way to run a search that will deliver only fresh information (newly filed deeds, without regard to how long ago the sales closed). Alas. And alack.

The other bad news is that it will be rather more difficult to discover sales that take a long time to hit public record (i.e., when a deed is not filed for 60 or more days after closing), so the risk of me missing the not-so-fresh sales is now greater than it was.

Because of that risk, I will occasionally put “sales” in the Master List even if I don’t have a clearing price. To take one example, if you had looked at the Master List last week, you saw the “1,830 sq ft” Tribeca loft #7D at 260 West Broadway (American Thread Company) reported as sold on October 11, though there was no price in the “cleared at” field. That was because when I added to the list there was no public record (yet) link on StreetEasy. I reported it without a clearing price because I didn’t want to take the chance of losing track of it in future searches. As it happens, when I checked the listing today for purposes of this post, the deed was filed October 20, so the full price sale is listed.

Same thing with the Greenwich Village mini-loft #1010 at 77 Bleecker Street (Bleecker Court), which was reported as “sold” on StreetEasy as of October 13, although there was (when I first saw it) no “Sale recorded” link to a deed record. Again, that deed has now been filed (also on October 20), so I filled in the sale price of $587,500.

where did I come across “sales” that had closed but had not yet been filed?

In trying to see if there was a back door in StreetEasy’s data set that might be an easier path than the oh-so-cumbersome Comparables searches by neighborhood described in my October 6 post, I tried a Sales search. (Skip to the next sub-head unless you are intensely interested in the intricacies of StreetEasy’s data set and search capacities.)

  1. On the Sales home page, I clicked “All Downtown” in the “Location” box (as I used to do) and set the price parameters as $500,000 to $6 million
  2. Still on the Sales home page, I clicked the “+ Advanced Options” link to pull down a ton of other parameters or features by which to search, but was interested in only one: in the “Status” box I discovered you could filter for “Include only sold listings” … boom!
  3. The results are a ridiculous 30,070 sales (when I just did this), which would be even more ridiculous if they couldn’t be sorted
  4. The “Sort by” box up top is your friend (my friend!), especially as it defaults to “recently updated” (possibly my best friend) so, in theory I just have to keep going until I find deeds recorded when I last updated

I say “in theory” as the results I got today looked great, until this rather ancient sale popped up between sales recorded on October 21: yes, folks, the Noho coop loft on the 5th floor of 710 Broadway sold on March 1, 2011 (two thousand eleven), which led me to think the deed sat unfiled for five and a half years, but no; the deed was filed on March 19, 2011 (no typo). I can’t imagine what it was about this record in StreetEasy’s data set that made it as “recently updated” as deeds filed yesterday, but there it is. (Maybe it is the inherent unreliability of search results with 30,000+ records.)

The upshot is that it doesn’t inspire confidence, but may be usable, with patience.

Then I noticed another way to “Sort by”, and selected “Newest”. Not to try your patience much longer, I got some results that StreetEasy thinks have sold (presumably, because of a brokerage firm feed) that don’t yet have deed records (i.e., no official sales price). Hence, my addition of #7D at the American Thread Company and #1010 at Bleecker Court as placeholders (now completed). But there were, again, anomalous results: it was immediately obvious that the “Newest” results were not sorted by date of the sale at all (results can flow from July sales to September sales to August sales). Maybe they shouldn’t call it “Newest”??

StreetEasy was very responsive when I reached out by email for an explanation, and to see if there was another way to do what I really wanted to do. Unfortunately, there is no better way, and the explanation is weird, in a way that only a data-base manager might love. “Newest” doesn’t sort by what you’d assume it meant (most recent sale date) but by when the listing was first created in StreetEasy (trust me, the email explanation is “‘Newest’ is sorted by the date the listing was created in our data base, with the newest listing created in our database appearing at the top – this is why the Listed At and Sold Date are out of order”). This function is more a measure of days on market, though not even a direct one at that.

Again, I was referred by th helpful folks at StreetEasy to the Comparables report, explained on StreetEasy’s blog. Alas.

But if you see a listing on the Master List without a clearing price, you’ll know I have been playing around with StreetEasy, but not having much fun.

putting some red on the Master List

Since it had been so long between updates the the Master List, I really breezed through the results. Whether I ever get to full (full!) Manhattan Loft Guy treatments for many in that long set (I added upwards of 150 resales a bit more than a week ago), I noted two numbers that jumped out at me. From here on in, when you see a number in red, that is something I thought strange (or wonderful, I guess) and a candidate for a future post. But because there are so many lofts and so little time, many won’t make the cut.

You might want to find a red datum listing record if it is not obvious why I found it … weird. In the case of the July 26 sale of the “2,384 sq ft” Soho loft 139 Spring Street #7A, the closing price of $3.6mm got the red because of the healthy premium over the ask ($3mm). For the “2,802 sq ft”Greenwich Village loft 65 West 13 Street #7A [The Greenwich], it’s the On Market date in red, because it was so damn long ago.

I will try not to overdo it. Maybe I will stick with adding some red highlights, and maybe it was just a passing fancy when I did a bulk update. Time will tell; it always does.

Did the seasons just changed today, or what??

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