Site Unseen! Renters So Desperate, They Sign on the Floor Plans

205 water street 092711 e1319033563259 Site Unseen! Renters So Desperate, They Sign on the Floor Plans

I've seen enough. I'll take it! (Brownstoner)

Everyone hates apartment hunting. Spending precious Sundays crisscrossing the city to look for the perfect place is certainly not The Observer’s idea of a good time, and it seems that others agree. More and more renters are putting down deposits without even seeing their future digs, The Wall Street Journal reports.

Eager renters hoping to get into the best new developments have proved willing to plunk down cold hard cash without ever having set foot on their desired properties. Developers have been advertising apartments in unfinished buildings, perhaps eager to seal deals as early as possible in the uncertain economic climate.

For developers, renting or selling units in an unfinished building usually means fetching a significantly lower price, unless demand is especially frenzied.

During the condo boom in 2006 and 2007, for example, competition for units in some buildings was so intense that buyers were snapping up units sometimes years in advance based on sparse floor plans rather than risk being shut out by waiting.

According to The Journal, however, rents are close to what they were back in the flush times of 2006 and developers are willing to risk marketing uncompleted properties. Still, most people aren’t willing to shell out safety deposits without experiencing atmosphere of a new apartment.

“The rental customer—they like to stand in it, like to touch it and see it and feel it. They want to see that their furniture is going to fit and they want to see if that’s the view they expected,” said Clifford Finn, president of new-development marketing at Citi Habitats. “I’m not sure that people are that willing to take that leap of faith today.”

For some luxury apartment buyers, however, time is money, and wasting it touring new homes simply won’t do. For bigwigs with hearts set on specific new buildings, buying off floor plans may just make sense. For the rest of us, however, it looks like apartment hunting will remain the same time old misery for the foreseeable future.

eknutsen@observer.com