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  1. Find out how these new developments managed to surviveBy KATHERINE DYKSTRA January 12, 2011 The developers of the 95-unit Griffin Court, on 10th Avenue between 53rd and 54th streets, have made no secret of the fact that they are giving the first 15 percent of their buyers a 15 percent discount. The reason? Let’s just say it’s no coincidence that getting contracts signed on 15 percent of the units is exactly what it will take in order to make the condo plan effective. “People would come in and ask how many we’ve sold,” says Ken Horn, president of Alchemy Properties, which is developing Griffin Court. The building came “softly” on the market in March of last year. “People would say, ‘When you have the plan effective, we’d be interested in buying.’ We realized that once we hit that 15 percent level, it [would be] amazing what happened with sales,” Horn adds. And so, after not moving a single unit in that first six months, Alchemy re-launched the sales of Griffin Court in September, initiating the 15 percent-off perk. Today, Alchemy has 15 contracts that are either signed or out for signature. “[Developers] who cut prices to get the pre-sales requirements are smart and will survive,” says Jonathan Miller, president of real estate appraisal firm Miller Samuel. Nothing is easy in today’s tough real estate market, a very different one than, say, four years ago — especially for new developments. To wit, in the second quarter of 2006, 57 percent of all Manhattan closings were on listings in new developments, according to Miller. Compare that to the most recently completed quarter, where only 21.6 percent of closings were in new development. This figure does, however, represent a stabilizing of new development sales, which have hovered in the low 20s for the last six quarters. The low point of 16.4 percent came at the beginning of 2010. But that doesn’t change the fact that it’s harder than ever to sell buyers on new development. That’s largely because buyers fear buildings might never be finished (slow sales can lead to reneged financing, which in turn can lead to the dreaded “going rental” or remaining vacant). “Buyers are skeptical still that developers will finish their product. Buyers are really looking for things they can move into in six months,” says Steve Kliegerman, executive director of development marketing at Halstead Property. So, rather than attempt to unload units as soon as a floor plan has been settled on, many developers are waiting to launch sales until the building is nearly finished. That way, buyers can at least walk through a completed model unit. “Most developers are holding product off the market until it is more finished,” says Kliegerman, who launched sales at Gramercy 19 in October. At the time, the project was 55 percent finished in terms of construction; including the on-site sales office. The building’s studios and one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments range from $500,000 to $2.4 million and average $1,400 a square foot. Though 12 contracts have been signed at Gramercy 19, Kliegerman decided to pull four units off the market to wait for their construction to be complete; he wants to show finished products, which he believes can fetch higher prices. Love Lane Mews, a 38-unit conversion in Brooklyn Heights, priced from $1.05 million for a 1,000-square-foot one-bedroom to $4.25 million for a 2,400-square-foot three-bedroom, launched sales in November. “We had planned to come to market earlier,” says Laurie Zucker, principal of Manhattan Skyline, which is developing the condo along with Sterling Equities. “It was a difficult construction . . . we thought we’d be on the market during the summer and early fall.” But rather than launch early and attempt to sell off of a floor plan, they held out until there was something for buyers to see. Zucker estimates construction will be complete within the next three to six months. “People aren’t buying from paper anymore, they want to see what they’re getting,” says Corcoran Sunshine Marketing’s Henry Hershkowitz, sales director for 123 Third Ave., a 47-unit condo building at 14th Street and Third Avenue, which came on the market just after Labor Day. “You don’t want to wait until it’s totally done; you just want the tools to sell it.” At 123 Third Ave., Hershkowitz has been able to put more than 80 percent of the units into contract. Condos start as low as $600,000 and go up to $4.525 million. “More than 50 percent [of the building is made up of] one-bedrooms,” Hershkowitz says. “They sold quickly. They’re all sold out.” “There has been some traction in the sense that there has been sales activity,” Miller says of the market overall. “A lot of it was circling around sub-million-dollar properties because that amount could go through Fannie or Freddie in conforming loans.” Of Griffin Court’s 95 units, 46 are below $1 million. Studios start at $625,000 and 681 square feet. “Three, four years ago, the units would go for 25 percent more, [but] our objective has been to price our units to be able to sell,” Horn says. Read more: http://www.nypost.com/p/news/business/realestate/residential/go_LW7aAM0XPpHPzEzsr0YUwO#ixzz1Aw2q6rJN