The Real Estate Market: Demand Far Exceeds Supply Co-op and Condo Prices Surge in '98

There's no doubt about it: New York is the place to be once again, buyers just can't get enough of it. In fact, the biggest problem in residential real estate these days is that there just isn't any available.

"You can't find a good apartment for a million bucks anymore," laments Gregory A. Roach, president of GAR Associates, a design and construction planning firm in Manhattan. While for most people, finding the million bucks is the big challenge, for Roach's clients, a couple moving to the Big Apple from the Southwest, the challenge is spending it.

"Many of the brokers I called had no product at all that met their criteria," Roach explains. "And the apartments they did show me were covered with a quick coat of paint and had only the most basic architectural detailing." After visiting dozens of co-ops and condos, searching for the ideal three-bedroom on a high floor with over 2,000 square feet and plenty of open spaces, "We've given up on the existing market," Roach concedes. "Now we're hoping to buy in one of the new luxury developments currently under construction. It may take a year or 18 months before they can move in, but at least my clients will have what they want."

Pre-Construction Sales Surge

Roach's clients are not unique in their strategy to buy what has not yet been built. In a return to a trend that was very big in the late 1980s, pre-construction sales are extremely strong. Adrienne Albert, president of The Marketing Directors, a real estate marketing firm based in Manhattan, reports that in the last three weeks, nearly ten percent of the 377 apartments at 200 Riverside Boulevard, the first condo to come on line at Trump's new Riverside South development, were sold.

"Even the new developments coming on line are a drop in the bucket compared with the demand," says Albert, pointing out that there is not much that will be completed in 1999. "Buyers have no choice but to wait," she says, adding that people have come to expect very little risk when it comes to pre-construction buying. Often they are spending hundreds of thousands - even millions - of dollars based only on floor plans. Some buildings are far enough along to feature model apartments, and others build actual kitchens and bathrooms at their sales offices to give buyers an authentic taste of what's to come.

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