Buying New Property In Manhattan, The Strategy
Posted by Wei Min Tan on March 1, 2019
Buying new condominium property in Manhattan is a strategy we focus on with investor clients from all over the world who are seeking Manhattan property as a form of asset diversification. Since Manhattan is land-locked, the supply of new launch property is small relative to overall property inventory. Prices of new property are higher than resale property but the new property strategy is very viable.
The Benefits Of Buying A New Condominium
A key advantage of buying a new property is the price discount that the early buyer gets. Condominium property projects start selling about 2 years before the project is completed. The earliest buyers get the initial pricing, known as Schedule A pricing. As the property development gets built, prices increase and these are done through Pricing Amendments.
Specific to Manhattan new property is the small reservation deposit. To reserve a condo unit, the reservation deposit ranges from 10 percent to 25 percent. The balance is only due when the project is completed, 1.5 to 2 years later. This reservation deposit is held in an attorney escrow account and cannot be used by the developer. The buyer hence pays a fraction of the property price to reserve a condo that will likely increase in price when completed.
A new condominium property will have the latest amenities such as a grand entrance, fitness center, residents’ lounge and roof deck. These are premium features and hence command higher rents as well. Going back to the higher price of new vs resale, new property also have higher rents compared to resale. From a rental return perspective, new property usually (if picked correctly) have higher yields.
New property will have less repair expenses because everything is new. This will be reflected in the common charges of the property. Older property usually have higher common charges because of higher repair and replacement expenses.
Our Process Of Buying A New Condo
Understand Client’s Objective
We start by understanding the client’s objective. For example, is the buyer intending to use as a vacation home or to rent out for rental income. How long does the buyer intend to hold the property? Does the buyer intend to resell the property right after closing? All these play an important role in the new properties we recommend to clients.
Our value is in helping the client identify the right property to invest in and managing the entire buy process. It is not to provide access to property because in New York, all property for sale is public information and can be accessed through sites like streeteasy.com.
Discuss financing options
Buyers can buy with a mortgage or all cash. For the former, we will have our mortgage bankers discuss financing options in terms of rate and terms and provide a pre-approval letter. This is a preliminary financing step because the buyer still needs to formally apply for the loan closer to project completion and the bank still needs to formally approve the project based on lender criteria such as percentage sold etc. Nevertheless, this preliminary review with a mortgage banker is necessary so buyer understands the financing options available.
Analysis and Forecast
Based in the client’s objectives, we will shortlist the new condominiums that make sense, perform analysis and forecast appreciation and rental income potential. As a former Citigroup banker, financials is second nature and a key differentiating factor. We will present the client with upsides and downsides of the shortlisted new condos including scenarios for financials and rental income.
Visiting the sales office
We will visit the sales offices of the shortlisted condominium developments. With foreign clients, often the client attends the visit virtually through video conference. Or we will send photos/videos.
The sales office is a well planned and multi-million investment by the developer where buyers are presented the lifestyle and experience of owning a property at the development. Our role as a buyer’s broker is to give the client a realistic analysis on whether the upsides presented by the sales office is aligned with the market’s demand, whether the carrying expenses are high/low, whether proximity to transportation is an issue etc.
Reserving A Condo
Eventually, we will narrow down to one or two developments. The buyer makes an offer. Upon agreement, a contract is sent to buyer’s attorney for review. When the contract is finalized by both buyer’s and seller’s attorneys, buyer puts down 10 percent as a contract deposit. A few months later, buyer puts down another deposit of between 0 to 15 percent, bringing the total deposit to between 10 percent to 25 percent.
Arranging funds and financing
After the contract is signed, the buyer informs the mortgage banker and formally arranges financing. The lender will have its criteria for approving the project, eg a main criterion is the project has to be X percent sold before the bank lends at the development. The developer will also have a list of preferred lenders. We will compare rates and terms from various lenders and decide which bank to proceed with. There is ample time for this. The process of formally arranging financing takes about 3 months. If the buyer reserves the property 18 months before anticipated closing, there is ample time to arrange financing.
About 60 days before the property is ready for delivery, the developer’s office will send out a closing notice. This stage is usually 1.5 to 2 years from when the property reservation was made. We perform a walk through of the property the day before the closing. At the day of the closing, the buyer officially takes title of the property.
Why Work With Us
We focus on investor clients globally and have been interviewed on the subject about 100 times by top media such as CNBC, New York Times, NBC. Wei Min Tan is a former banker from Citigroup who managed a $500 million business. He understands financials, forecasts and what an investor wants (because he’s also a property investor).
In New York, the seller (developer in this case) pays the broker fees for both sides. The buyer’s and seller’s brokers still represent the interest of their respective clients, but the broker checks come from the seller.
Summary of what we do:
1) Identify the right buy based on objectives
2) Manage the buy process
3) Rent out the property
4) Manage tenants
5) Market the property at the eventual sale
Examples Of Past Deals
1) The Sutton in Midtown East. 2 years to completion, rented out immediately for investor clients. The low reservation deposit of 10 percent and high end interior finishings make this a very appealing investment. Multiple deals at the $2 million price point.
2) 111 Murray in Tribeca. Appreciated 20+ percent upon completion. The green building opposite is the Goldman Sachs headquarters. This is currently the newest building in Tribeca, one of Manhattan’s most desirable neighborhoods. Client reserved this condo at pre-construction at $1.54 million. Similar units on the market at $2 million after completion.
3) Halcyon in Turtle Bay. Top building with swimming pool, attracting high end tenants. Multiple deals between $1.7 million to $5 million.
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