one less funny person at The Porter House

… unless the buyer is a clown?
I checked in at 66 Ninth Avenue (The Porter House) on August 16 (Porter House loft may be "beyond the beyond" but sells off a million, up 40% or down 25%) to tell a tale of  Manhattan loft sellers who recently closed 40% above their November 2003 purchase, but down 25% from where the upstairs neighbors sold while they were on the market at the wrong price. Yesterday’s The Real Deal updates that building’s news to note that a "comedy actress" well-known to many and liked by some just sold a high floor loft there for $2.61mm.

That not-so-funny-anymore loft was evidently #9E, in the brand new four steel-and-glass upper floors that cantilever out over the original furniture warehouse lower six floors. Let’s look at what the comedian did with #9E.

from 2003 to 2009, up 69%
TRD’s Adam Pincus reports that the sponsor sold the "1,836 sq ft" #9E in November 2003 for $1.6mm ($871/ft) — not much of a premium over Old Loft #3W, which the developer valued at $1,522,284, or $784/ft for "1,942 sq ft", given the "120 sq ft" terrace and the height (and light) advantages of the new 9th floor. That puts the #9E seller up seven figures in six years, or nearly 70%, before considering round trip expenses. Happy math, that!

Of course, as even sellers with no sense of humor are wont to do, the comedian wanted happier math, having started to market in March at $3.25mm (we’ll come back to that number, so make note). Proving to be a serious seller, they dropped the price a healthy 8% within four weeks ($2.995mm) and again by 5% six weeks later ($2.85mm). They were in contract from there within another 6 weeks, so were on the market just over 4 months before contract. That contract negotiation was, of course, serious, and chopped another 8% off the last asking price, or a total of 18% off the original March asking price to close at $2.61mm.

the neighbors did better last year (of course)
As with the Porter House sale I hit on August 16, this sale has a lovely comp with which to asses the change in The Market pre– and post-Lehman. In that case it was #4W selling on July 3, 2008 at $2,787,500, compared to #3W selling on June 23, 2009 at $2.15mm. In this case, the very recent #9E sale at $2.61mm compares with the July 1, 2008 of #8E for $3.1mm (raise your hand if you remember the original asking price for #9E). Pretty strong evidence that the value of #9E declined by about 16% in a year.

Those downstairs neighbors had an interesting listing history, as well (is there such a thing as Listing History Porn??). They over-shot the market (an endemic situation), but recovered to generate a bidding war. Check this out:

October 11, 2007

November 16, 2007 $3.3mm
February 1, 2008 $3.15mm
February 27, 2007 $3mm
April 29, 2008  contract $3.1mm
July 1, 2008  closing

This history is interesting because they were on the market at The Top, without getting their price (or any price) for five months, and then they got someone to pay $100k over a two-month-old asking price. Also interesting that they did not generate a contract at the April 2008 contract price of $3.1mm when they were asking (only) $3.3mm from November to January. If that eventual buyer was looking in November, you’d think that buyer would have bid to a $3.1mm contract then. Perhaps the buyer did not emerge until later; perhaps the seller was not willing to compromise (yet).

further shameless speculation
If there was a bidding war in April 2008 for #8E, as this history suggests, I wonder if the losing bidder bought something else then or … perhaps that bidder came back to snap up #9E a year later, "saving" almost $500k…..

It is much less speculative to believe that the comedian was distracted (mistaken) by starting in March 2009 above where #8E had closed 9 months earlier, as the facts proved that no one stepped up with an acceptable offer off of $3.25mm. By April, even asking $105k less than #8E’s clearing price generated an offer. Still, the comedian sold 69% above her November 2003 purchase price, so she should be smiling even if she left 16% of notional dollars on the table.

(h/t to Curbed for the TRD link)

© Sandy Mattingly 2009
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