Investing in a Soho apartment, key tips

Posted by Wei Min Tan on May 4, 2020

Soho is one of the most desirable and expensive addresses in Manhattan, New York.  Soho was once an artist hub in the 1960s and 1970s.  As with real estate trends, fancy coffee shops and chic restaurants started moving in, prices increased, artists moved out, high income financiers and entrepreneurs who can afford $2,500 to $5,000 per square foot prices or $100+ per square foot rents moved in.  Now, Soho is home to expensive art galleries, loft apartments and luxury designer stores.

 

Is getting a Soho condo apartment a good investment?  It depends.  The below are some tips when looking to invest in a Soho property.

 

Contact:  tan@castle-avenue.com

Read about Wei Min’s style in Best Manhattan property agents and Role of a buyer’s broker

Interested in working with Wei Min?
Click here to get in touch!

 

Tip 1:  A Soho loft is extremely desirable

The distinguishing factor of a Soho apartment is the loft style.  A loft refers to a former warehouse or factory that has been converted to residential apartments.  Lofts are unique because of the 12 to 14 feet high ceilings and large floor-to-ceiling windows.  A loft usually occupies the entire floor so the area is huge,  2,000 sqft and up.  This makes the apartment very voluminous.  Investing in a Soho loft apartment represents one of the best assets to own in Manhattan because the supply is finite.

 

Deal example:  Investor client’s Soho loft at 40 Mercer Street.  I remember we shopped for this during a cold and dark winter day.  Looks so much better in Spring.  Notice the apartment looks out to historic Soho architecture.

Tip 2:  Artist In Residence rule

Since Soho started as an artist hub, most Soho buildings are zoned A.I.R. (Artist In Residence).  Technically, this means that, in an AIR building, the resident needs to be a certified artist, and there is a detailed and cumbersome process to get such certification (if one is indeed an artist).

 

Reality is that most current owners of Soho apartments are not artists.  The AIR law is not one enforced by New York City but this doesn’t mean it will not be enforced.   The AIR law may cause challenges when obtaining a mortgage from a bank.  There are some Soho buildings that are not zoned AIR and these are the newer built ones.

 

 

Tip 3:  Facilities 

Being a classic Soho loft building means it’s a 100 year old building with creaky floors, no fitness center or residents’ lounge  and usually no doorman.  When paying $2,500 per sqft for an apartment, these are amenities often expected in a newly built, all-glass condo building.  Not in Soho.  There is a handful of newer all-glass buildings with the fancy amenities.  But majority of Soho apartments will be as mentioned above, little to no facilities.

 

A Soho living room is expansive, especially with the high ceilings.  Most Soho apartments are floor through, going from front to back.  

Soho living room

 

Tip 4:  Living in a building with 5 to 15 apartments

Most Soho apartments are 5-story buildings, one apartment per floor.  There is a very small number of apartments in the entire building, maybe between 5 to 15 apartments.  This in contrast to a 200 unit luxury condo.  So what does this mean?  It means that everyone or half of all residents are in the board.  And everyone gets involved in the decision making of the building (not always a good thing).

 

As with all committees and politics, there is always arguments and disagreements on what to do, eg whether to add plants on the roof, paint the hallways, how much common charge to increase, replace vs fix the boiler, etc.  You will know your neighbors because your neighbor is constantly lobbying you to vote a certain way.

 

 

Tip 5:  The Soho vibe is irreplaceable

Why do people pay so much for a Soho apartment?  The main reasons are preference for the high ceiling loft style, need for privacy and need to be in the middle of the Soho vibe.  Walking the cobblestone streets of Soho simply feels glamorous.  You may stand taller or feel better.  At least I do.  There are chic hotels, expensive restaurants, and sidewalk ice cream stalls.  That’s only in Soho.  The cast iron architecture is one-of-a-kind.  They don’t make these anymore.

 

 

What We Do

We focus on global investors buying Manhattan condos for portfolio diversification and long term return-on-investment.
1) Identify the right buy based on objectives
2) Manage the buy process
3) Rent out the property
4) Manage tenants
5) Market the property at the eventual sale

 

Wei Min’s media interviews by CNBC, CNN, New York Times on the subject of investing in Manhattan property

 

 

Follow On Instagram

 

About Wei Min

  • Focuses on investors of Manhattan condominiums, interviewed by CNBC, CNN, Wall Street Journal, New York Times
  • Ex-Citibanker, managed $500 million portfolio
  • MBA, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
  • Manhattan resident since 1999. Currently lives in Tribeca with wife and 2 kids
  • 352 burpees in 23 minutes, student of muay thai kickboxing

Contact Wei Min

Recent Blog Posts

Stay Up to Date

Sign up for our newsletter!

Thank you!

We have received your subscription and will be in touch soon!



About Wei Min


  • Focuses on investors of Manhattan condominiums, interviewed by CNBC, CNN, Wall Street Journal, New York Times
  • Ex-Citibanker, managed $500 million portfolio
  • MBA, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
  • Manhattan resident since 1999. Currently lives in Tribeca with wife and 2 kids
  • 352 burpees in 23 minutes, student of muay thai kickboxing

Work With Wei Min

CONTACT US
This error message is only visible to WordPress admins

Error: API requests are being delayed. New posts will not be retrieved.

There may be an issue with the Instagram access token that you are using. Your server might also be unable to connect to Instagram at this time.

Error: API requests are being delayed for this account. New posts will not be retrieved.

There may be an issue with the Instagram access token that you are using. Your server might also be unable to connect to Instagram at this time.