One of the questions new construction home buyers often ask is, "How do we know that the condo we are buying is going to be close to what is being promised, the perfectly lighted model unit, and dainty plastic diorama?"
The truth of the matter is that the display model, renderings, brochures and any advertising materials are tools for the developer to communicate a concept but they have (and will excercise) the right to make modifications during the actual construction. The best developers and marketers will not overpromise and stay very true to the spirit of the concept marketed. In terms of legal recourse, there's a wide grey area between the developer making some tweaks and serious false advertising. This kind of risk only increases the value of buying from a developer and the project's marketing firm which both have long, verifiable, and positive track records of promoting and delivering well-designed, quality product on spec, and on time.
So how good are developers at keeping their promises? When I started this blog almost two years ago, many new construction projects were already in the works. I thought it would be neat to take a look at a few examples: Mosler Lofts, Lumen and The Parc and compare their marketed concepts to the actual delivered product.
I have to say that among the three condos marketed a couple of years ago, Mosler Lofts's exterior is extremely close to what was advertised -- many people feel it looks even better than the pre-sales renderings. Its glass and brick combination has a very solid feel, almost a cross between Avenue One and Bellora condos. As for the interior, the finishes presented in the sales center are also very close. One nit: some pre-sales buyers were surprised by the large exposed metal ducts below the ceilings and unpainted concrete ceilings. (To be fair, these ducts appeared on the floor plan documentation but I've heard from a few buyers that it wasn't obvious to them when they were at the sales center.)
Lastly, Mosler Lofts was projected for June 2007 occupancy and started the move-ins in November 2007. This was partly due to a 1 month concrete strike in August 2006 and partly a bad estimate.
Avenue One Bellora
I was kind of surprised with the Parc when it was completed. The exterior looked kind of unfinished and had a different color than the artist's rendition. The color is a bit more washed out and commercial than what many expected making it hard to compare favorably to its sister project, Avenue One (which has a more interesting combination of materials and darker, richer colors). The interior on the other hand, turned out extremely close to the model unit, which was really well-presented.
The Parc had an estimated move in date of April 2007 for the south tower and June 2007 for the north tower and started occupancy in Oct 2007 (Like Mosler, the delay was partly due to the 1 month concrete strike in August 2006 and partly a bad estimate).
Lumen (Marketed by Windermere Onsite and Realogics, Developed by Landstar Development)
Lumen's exterior has an interesting shape but on the whole, it doesn't seem to have the same feel as one got when looking at the diorama. The exterior feels a bit sterile - someone told me they thought it comes across like a medical or government building. I'm not sure I'd go that far but this is one of those things that you can't predict since the overall design looks very close to the marketing materials. Ultimately, it might be like a sweater that looks great online but seems a bit off when you try it on at home when it was delivered. Since these cases are very possible, you really are betting that the architect, developer, and construction companies are making the right decisions before and during construction. The interior does live up to its marketing; one unique amenity that stands out is the central courtyard. The greenery in the center of building adds some color and was delivered as promised.
The estimated move in date for Lumen was February 2007 and they came pretty close with move-ins in April 2007.