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New York is Test Driving Condos. Should DC?

  • August 2, 2012

by Shilpi Paul

New York is Test Driving Condos. Should DC?: Figure 1
One Brooklyn Bridge, a building where residents can test-drive condos.

Buying a condo often requires a leap of faith. What is the neighborhood like at 2am? Is the upstairs neighbor a stomper? How noisy does it get? In order to answer these questions and eliminate buyer’s remorse, several New York buildings are trying out a new strategy: test-driving condos.

Earlier this week, the Wall Street Journal reported on the trend, which allows would-be buyers to rent a unit before cracking open their nest eggs and committing to mortgage payments.

Interested buyers spend a few months renting a unit in a building they are interested in, feeling out the neighborhood and the layout. If they are happy, the residents can either buy the place or find a similar unit for sale in the building.

The benefits to the buyers are clear: they know exactly what they are investing in. While there is some potential that a desirable property will appreciate in price (and become less affordable) while the resident is testing it out, the security of investing only when they know it is what they want may be worth it.

For the buildings, it’s a slightly riskier proposition. From the Wall Street Journal:

There can be downsides for developers, warns Stephen Kliegerman, Halstead’s executive director of development marketing. “It’s a good idea for an emerging marketplace. But for a developer, it’s also risky, because if it doesn’t go well, the building gets tainted. It’s seen as a building that failed to entice people.”

In DC, we’re used to seeing a clear line between rental and condo buildings, although occasionally the Tenant Opportunity to Purchase act kicks in to allow a renter first dibs at a buildings that is contracted to sell. But a conscious plan like test-driving hasn’t been seen. Would something like this work in the District?

See other articles related to: rent vs buy, editors choice, dclofts

This article originally published at http://dc.urbanturf.com/articles/blog/new_yorks_test_driven_condos/5855

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