It's easy to be seduced by the obvious charms of a brand new condo--falling for sleek, modern architecture, floor to ceiling windows that make the most of light and views, and building amenities perfectly attuned to the needs of modern-day living versus, say, the needs of New Yorkers in 1926.
Just don't confuse new with perfect. Construction defects ranging from minor to serious are not uncommon. They can cramp your quality of life for years and even interfere with your ability to sell until the issues are fixed.
The most frequent problems involve exterior leaks, windows that don’t work, defective wood floors, inferior substitutions of materials and appliances, missing fire proofing, heating and cooling system problems, and bad ventilation.
Complications ensue if the developer (also referred to as a 'sponsor') either doesn’t want to fix a project he doesn’t stand to make any more money on, or can’t afford to. Worst case translation: Two to three years of lawsuits, five- or even six-figure assessments, mild-to-severe inconvenience, and repair work that could wind up costing each owner tens of thousands of dollars.
While buyers of brand-new will never be able to eliminate the prospect of construction defects, the best hedge is to buy from a reputable developer—one who not only builds to a greater standard of care, but can afford to fix things that go wrong and wants to in order to preserve its reputation and be able to sell future projects.
So how do you find the good ones? A good real estate attorney (not one referred to you by the developer) should be able to steer you away from the worst and recite a list of the best.
You should also Google the name of the developer for discussions about problems in past projects. Remember that many developers create a new LLC for each project, so look in the development’s offering plan—a huge telephone-book-sized document that along with its amendments essentially explains everything about the building, from how many units have to sell in order for the sponsor to relinquish management of the building right down to the finish of the countertop in the powder room. Conduct your own due diligence online with this step-by-step guide to researching a developer’s past projects.