UrbanTurf Reader Asks: Should I Buy a Unit Without Seeing a Model?

by UrbanTurf Staff

In this installment of UrbanTurf Reader Asks, a reader wonders whether buying a pre-construction property in the upper six figures is a wise move given that there is no model for the unit he is interested in.


I am very interested in a buying a place in a new row house development in DC. The issue is that there are no actual models available to preview for the unit that I want, and they are asking for a 10 percent deposit to hold a unit. As these are scarce corner units, demand will likely be high and, according to the salesperson, the prices have already started to escalate. These homes could possibly top out at nearly $1M.

I don’t really have a problem with the price point, but I do take issue with the fact that there isn’t a way to currently see an actual finished product. I could possibly be paying close to $1M for a home that I won’t even see until I do a final walkthrough. While the deposit is refundable, it seems to me that this is an awful lot of cash to tie up on something that may not end up being satisfactory for any number of reasons.

So, given the circumstances, should I even put down a deposit?

Post your thoughts in the comments section. If you would like to submit a question for UrbanTurf Reader Asks, send an email to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

See other articles related to: urbanturf reader asks, preconstruction, dclofts

This article originally published at http://dc.urbanturf.com/articles/blog/urbanturf_reader_asks_should_i_buy_a_unit_without_seeing_a_model/2129


  1. Ben said at 2:09 pm on Wednesday June 2, 2010:

    If you like the area, believe that you will like the unit and have the option to have the cash tied up for awhile, I would go for it. Given the home buying atmosphere these days and the lack of inventory, I suspect that if you don’t buy the place, someone else will come along.

  1. Fran said at 2:19 pm on Wednesday June 2, 2010:

    Let me guess - Capitol Quarter “Carroll”?

  1. DG Cromwell said at 3:05 pm on Wednesday June 2, 2010:

    Post something if any sales people inform you that the demand will be low. While you contemplate over the purchase of this property, why not also consider putting some money down for a mail order bride?

    Maybe your deposit will be held by a trusted third party and the area has immense potential for growth and you will get signed by Dan Snyder for an outrageous guaranteed lump sum. From my experience in my condo building, the few owners who purchased a unit discovered that not everything (design) turns out as planned. The positive side is that you may have some options to modify the house according to your preferences. Good luck and don’t allow pressure to affect your decision.

  1. Emil Ali said at 3:20 pm on Wednesday June 2, 2010:

    Well you have probably seen plans so you know the layout. But just get the specific finishes they promise in writing.

    But this deposit doesn’t seem to be an EMD with an offer, instead you are simply letting them hold your money so you have a right to offer on that property which doesn’t mean much. In that case, it might not be a great idea because you won’t own an interest in the property if it goes under.

  1. DG-rad said at 3:26 pm on Wednesday June 2, 2010:

    if it is an EYA development, go to the Capitol Quarter models.  They are pretty standard across the board for their developments.

  1. emily said at 3:41 pm on Wednesday June 2, 2010:

    Does the builder have any other completed projects that you can look at? I am under contract for a pre-construction unit in DC, and what sold me was seeing finished condos in another building they had recently completed.

  1. Curious about Condos said at 3:56 pm on Wednesday June 2, 2010:

    While we’re discussing this, could someone address what the usual procedure is when a condo is under development? I’ve only ever bought existing (resale) homes. Is it usual to make an offer and put down earnest money and actually go under contract early in the process, as with a resale, or to put down a non-binding deposit, as this developer seems to be asking? Thanks.

  1. Victor Shelton said at 11:09 am on Friday July 2, 2010:

    @Fran - I posted the original question and you’re correct, it is the EYA “Carroll” model.

    I have seen the plans for their other models and actually visited the sales office in order to get a feel for the quality of the homes. There is no question as to the quality. Unfortunately, this particular model is very unique and therefore not really comparable to the others.

    Thanks for the input.



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