8 Greene Street loft sells like 2005, with bonus square foot rant + some stalking

rich history of appreciation, stunted
If yesterday’s post showed how tough The Market was in 2009 (it did: ground floor loft at 7 Worth St proves how bad 2009 was), today’s post will show how weak The Market has been compared to before The Peak: the Manhattan loft on the 4th floor at 8 Greene Street recently sold for less than it had been bought for in 2006. This loft’s history also shows how … err … bubblicious The Market was around the turn of the century.

Let’s start with the sales history (buckle your seat belt, please):

Sept 19, 1998 $289,000
Feb 22, 1999 $525,000
July 21, 2000 $775,000
April 27, 2006 $1.55mm
Nov 15, 2010 $1.49mm

Was it raw in 1998 and built out in 1999? Probably. We have no information about the condition of the unit until 2000, at which point our notes show a new stainless kitchen. I suspect that it was first marketed without interior walls, in much the same configuration of the 5th floor (without the closets) when it sold in April at $1.3mm. At “1,404 sq ft” (the rant is coming!), I doubt very much that any renovation in 1998 cost more than $200,000, or in 1999, or probably even in (after) 2000. From 1999 on (at least), I suspect the price appreciation represents the changing market rather than an improved condition.

It is easy to be distracted by that 1998 to 2006 history. Try to focus, instead, on the line from April 2006 ($1.55mm) to November 2010 ($1.49mm): a 4% decline.

In the overall Manhattan residential real estate market, I doubt that the increase from 1Q06 to 1Q08 (aka to The Peak) is matched by the decline since The Peak to the present, but that is what seems to have happened here. In fact, the decline in the (almost) 2 years since The Peak would have to have been greater than the increase in the (almost) 2 years to The Peak, given that the 4th floor traded a month ago at a 4% discount to the April 2006 clearing price.

If you approximate that the overall loft market is off about 15% since The Peak, you would fill in the blank in the above table like this on a hypothetical sale at The Peak:

Sept 19, 1998 $289,000
Feb 22, 1999 $525,000
July 21, 2000 $775,000
April 27, 2006 $1.55mm
Mar 31, 2008 $1,713,500
Nov 15, 2010 $1.49mm

in line with higher floor sale with fewer walls?
I mentioned the 5th floor sale in April at $1.3mm, sold without interior walls other than closets and a bathroom. The spread between the April 2010 5th floor at $1.3mm and the November 2010 4th floor at $1.49mm is probably accounted for by the built-out condition of the 4th floor (with an extra half-bath) and by the fact that there is no elevator, so the 5th floor owner walks up 25% more steps than the 4th floor owner (who would, in any case, get in very good aerobic shape). That, and allowing for the normal variation likely to occur between two same-building sales.

cue the Beach Boys
Prepare for a(nother) rant about square feet.

The 4th floor was claimed to be “1,700 sq ft” on StreetEasy but I do not know what the PruDE listing claimed for a size. The 5th floor — with the exact same footprint — was marketed as “approximately 1,500 sq ft” (that listing is here), which is an unhealthy spread of 200 sq ft, or 13.3% of the smaller figure. And by “unhealthy” I mean for the relationship between brokerage firms and consumers.

Wouldn’t it be nice if the two lofts with identical footprints were marketed as the exact same size?

Wouldn’t it be nice if these lofts had either been measured for purposes of being marketed, or if the marketing quoted figures used in an ‘official’ source like the Condo Declaration?

Yes, I was ranting about this in my December 20, residential Manhattan square feet called “elusive” by NY Times, “fraudulent” by loft buyers , in response to the Sunday NY Times piece, The Elusive Measure Known as the Square Foot. It is a good rant; I recommend it. Particularly because in the case of 8 Greene Street Property Shark has identical sizes for these lofts, of “1,404 sq ft”, as opposed to StreetEasy and our data-base, which have different sizes for the (identical) 4th floor (1,500 sq ft) and 5th floor (1,700 sq ft).

In this case, there is an Exhibit B to the condo declaration for this building, which (at page 20 of 88) provides the “Approx. Area in Square Feet” of the 3rd to 5th floors:  1,403.59. Rounding conventionally, that is 1,404 sq ft. The condo dec even explains how that measurement was derived (Article 6(b), page 3 of 88):

“measured horizontally from the inside brickface of the exterior brick wall to the inside brickface of the opposite exterior brick wall” …. “[h]owever, any Common Elements located within a Unit shall not be considered a part of such Unit.”

Looking again at that 5th floor floor plan, the interior dimensions are given as 85’ x 19’8” and show the common stairwell as within that rectangle. Do the math on those dimensions to get 1,672 sq ft, which suggest a couple of things: you might use “1,700 sq ft” as the approximate size if you ignored the common stairwell, and that stairwell might well be about 268 sq ft.

Wouldn’t it be nice if all listings in this building used (and sourced) the condo dec calculation??

the Waiver Letter, anticipated
My guess is that by the time this condominium was formed in 1998, there was a general consensus that city enforcement of the artist-in-residence rules was unlikely to occur, and if it occurred was a solvable problem. (Yes, that is another excuse to link to my November 12, did the NY Times just write the obituary for the Soho real estate market?, an excuse again taken.)

Here is what Article 9(a) of the condo declaration (at pages 5-6 of 88) has to say about the zoning ‘problem’:

To the extent that any Unit must be occupied as “joint live work quarters for artists” pursuant to Article 7-B of the Multiple Dwelling Law, the Unit Owner … shall indemnify and hold harmless the Condominium and each other Unit Owner from and against any claim, cost or expense arising out of the failure of such Unit Owner to cause such Unit to be occupied pursuant to the Multiple Dwelling Law.

tracking the seller, humming Evita
One more digression …. The sales history for the 4th floor at 8 Greene Street would lead one to suspect that the April-2006-buyer-turned-November-2010-seller suffered (‘losing’ $60,000 on the round trip, before expenses). But a broader perspective is … well … broader. And, for him, happier.

First, he moved up in the market by trading this 4th floor walk-up of 1,404 sq ft at $1.49mm for a brand new triplex at the Fairchild (of “3,164 sq ft interior”, “648 sq ft” of terrace) that he bought for nearly $3.5mm in May. (Hint: he didn’t need to sell in order to buy.) Second, Google results (not to be linked to here) show his career advanced by title and employers in the four years between the 8 Greene Street purchase and sale. Third, there is even Google juice (ditto) showing that he got married in April.

Yes, there are 8,000,000 stories in the naked city, but to focus only on this guy’s $60,000 loss in 4 years from owning a fairly primitive Soho loft would miss the greater parts of his story. Congrats to him and his bride. I hope they are very happy in northwest Tribeca. They certainly have a lot more room. And money.

© Sandy Mattingly 2010


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