Read The Fine Print Before Buying From A Floor Plan

Buyers enticed to purchase apartments by New York’s white-hot real estate market having only viewed floor plans are finding the finished properties do not match always match their expectations. The New York Times asks, “were they deceived?”

Not necessarily. In many cases, neither they nor their lawyers read the offering plan carefully. Buyers often must hand over a $200 deposit for the thrill of getting three days to review the plan, sometimes 500 pages or more. It includes floor plans; tables that provide square footage, estimated taxes and common charges; and detailed descriptions of construction materials and apartment finishes. But it is also filled with technical and legal language that would be indecipherable to anyone other than a real estate lawyer.

The Times has several pointers for buying an unbuilt property:
•Above all, retain a real estate lawyer to explain jargon and defend your interests.
•What is past is prologue. Research the building’s developer. Would you want to live in their other developments?
•If all else fails, make the fine print work for you. Loopholes may allow a penalty-free escape from disappointing properties. — CAREY GREENBERG-BERGER

The Danger in the Fine Print [NYT]

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  1. umonster says:

    My friend did this twice in NYC. Happy both times, but it seem pretty ballsy to me, especially since the second one cost over a mil.

  2. FLConsumer says:

    The NY Times article is rather good on this subject, but I’d like to add a few of my own rules.

    General construction rules

    Rule#1) Blueprints are merely a suggestion.

    Anyone who has remodeled a house, especially anyone who has done a major remodel (read: gut) of a high-rise condo would know that the plans are merely a suggestion as what to build. Construction workers…um… “add their own spice” to things. I’ve found some of their spices in the form of empty beer cans and wine bottles found in walls and air ducts. A recent high-rise condo construction project in SW Florida hit a major problem when someone screwed up the measurements and ended up running the water pipes OUTSIDE of the interior walls! This was discovered after the drywallers had put up drywall according to plans and the pipes were left exposed. The builder’s solution? Build a 2nd false wall to enclose all of them, which took about 8-10″ away from any of the rooms where this was a problem. Might not sound like that big of a deal until you realize you’re dealing with bathrooms which are normally small.

    2) There is no such thing as a square wall.

    I’ve yet to find a building where the walls were perfectly square. I remember the one kitchen I redid where the wall was 6″ off from one end to the other end (~12 feet). Not visually apparent when we first looked at the room, but painfully obvious when we went to measure for flooring and cabinetry.

    3) Estimates are useless

    “Estimated” anything is a purely random number which may or may not have some correlation to reality. Personally, I love going to the “condo conversions” where they say monthly condo fees will be

    4) Keep copies of ALL paperwork presented to you and more importantly — READ THEM.

    Even if an agent just shows you a quick glimpse of some document, request a copy of it, whether it be a quick listing of amenities, features, measurements, blueprints, etc. Better yet, READ THEM BEFORE problems arise. I’ve seen countless real estate developments where people start suing the developer/builder/etc and only during the discovery / deposition portion of the case are the documents ever looked at. There may even be ways to reduce the final costs because of omissions in these documents.