We’ll discuss how to sell a loft in probate. This is yet another type of apartment that is unique to New York. We’ve talked about co-ops in the past, which seem mind-boggling to many people (even New Yorkers).
What is an artist-in-residence?
It is too much to cover in depth, so this is a link from Street Easy, a local real estate blog: https://streeteasy.com/blog/sohos-artist-in-residence-law-101/
To live in a loft that has been converted from commercial use, the buyer is supposed to be an artist who lives in their studio. In other words, a work-living space. Not that many people are professional artists, but buyers may be required to be a “certified” artist.
This impacts probate by sorting through paperwork to confirm that the decedent was an artist-in-residence. This requirement also limits your pool of buyers.
There’s a process to get certified as an actual artist by the City of New York. As with any bureaucratic process, apparently there are lots of workarounds. And there must be, because I’ve never seen an actual artist living in these multi-million-dollar lofts. Note that there is an income requirement; you can’t just make finger paintings and declare yourself an artist.
It’s a niche issue, so make sure to work brokers who have deep experience. Otherwise, you will end up wasting a lot of time and limiting the number of potential buyers.
Cleanout: the elevator problem
Many of these were warehouses converted into lofts. That means there is not a traditional lobby with an elevator. The elevator goes directly into the living space. There is a key to each floor, so the elevator won’t randomly go to someone else’s loft.
While this living situation is cool and unique, it leads to some issues from the executor’s perspective.
For example, when you are using the one elevator that leads to all the floors, you are denying the other residents use of the elevator while you are cleaning out the decedent’s loft. This is not unique to probate; it happens when anyone moves in or out. It’s just one more twist for the executor to deal with.
We experienced an odd situation where we didn’t have the key to the door that led from the elevator to the loft. The locksmith drilled, held the elevator door open with one hand, and then had to undo everything to let someone else on. Then he had to start over again to help us.
The positive side is that these elevators are huge, since the lofts used to be warehouses. You can fill it with stuff and might only need two or three runs before giving the elevator back to the rest of the building.
Unique layouts of New York City loft apartments
There are no rooms; just a huge open space! You can get an architect and a contractor to put up some walls, but in its raw form, it is just a huge open warehouse floor.
Again, this is not unique to probate, but to anyone selling a loft. You’ll have a narrow set of buyers who are interested in living like that. Executors, since you have many other things to worry about, make sure you are working with a broker who is familiar with selling these lofts.
Lofts are very unique, but plenty of buyers love the space and uniqueness. And as a double-whammy, many of these lofts are co-ops, as well! So, you may deal with extra problems and rules.
To read about various probate-related situations, check out my book, “How Probate Works,” available on Amazon.
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