$900K & No Shower Door...What Gives!
About 15 months ago, a buyer (and friend) of mine put down a deposit for an 787 sq ft one bedroom, 1.5 bath apartment at The Link, an El-Ad Properties development (El-Ad is also the developer for the Plaza).
A week before the closing, we went in for the walk-through to find that the sinks were misaligned, the painting wasn't finished, two outlets weren't working, and there was a plethora of other small problems. When we walked into the bathroom, we noticed that there was no shower door or shower rod. We were told, "This line doesn't have them."
The sales office bathroom had a shower door! The website shows a shower with a shower door! The offering plan doesn't say anything about the "A" line NOT having a shower door. There ensued a week-long battle between both sides' attorneys about who was responsible for paying for the shower door. In the end, my client had to pay to have a shower door installed because the developer refused to pay for it.
As I visit more and more new developments, my eye has become trained to look for the tiniest details. Many new development bathrooms no longer include towel bars, toilet paper holders, or shower doors! More and more frequently, I am finding that developers are cutting these out of their apartments, most likely to cut construction costs and keep their price per square foot lower.
How ridiculous is it for someone to pay $1,150/sq ft (15 months ago!) for a "new luxury condo" and not have a shower door or even a shower rod!? Here are some tidbits I have noticed with clients buying new developments.
On the positive side, I was thrilled to go to Maison East and Rutherford Place today and see that they do actually have toilet paper holders and towel bars. Maison East actually includes the washer/dryers - not just a washer/dryer hook up.
So what is a buyer to do?
1. When buying in a new development, your attorney will read the offering plan, but to be on the safe side - you should read it also!
2. If the sales office says the building will be ready in the early spring, assume they mean the late summer. I have yet to see a building be ready earlier than what buyers/brokers are told.
3. If you get to your walk-through and find that the apartment still has work that needs to be done, schedule a second walk-through to make sure everything on the "punch list" has been completed. Postpone your closing date until everything on the punch list is complete if you have the luxury of doing so. Hopefully by delaying the closing you will expedite the process of getting things done.
4. Consider buying one of the apartments that was used as a model.
5. Assume that the hallways, lobby, fitness center, roof deck, and any other amenities will be completed at least 6 months later than when the building says they will be completed.
6. When buying off of a floor plan for a building that is not even in the ground yet, assume that the common charges being quoted to you are lower than what they will end up being when you move in. It is in the developer's interest to low ball the projected budget for the building to make the common charges look attractive to potential buyers.
In general, I love new developments and after the "dust settles," so do my clients. Young Wall Streeters in particular don't want to deal with the hassles of a co-op and they don't want to gut renovate an existing apartment. They want a gorgeous, never-lived in product. When you move into an apartment that has been lived in, there will always be something that needs to be renovated or fixed. Since the elevators, lobby, and other amenities are brand spanking new in a new development, you wont have to worry about assessments or common charge increases for any major capital improvements any time soon; unless of course there was shoddy work done that demands a redo.
By going into a new development purchase with reasonable expectations and a checklist of things to keep an eye on, you will have a much better experience! Best of luck in your search!