While new-development units accounted for 57 percent of all apartments sold in Manhattan at the height of the condo boom in 2006, they now account for only 16 percent of sales, said Mr. Miller, who also provides market data for Prudential Douglas Elliman. But almost-new condos, which he defines as units three to five years old, have picked up some of the slack, with 10 percent of the market, versus less than 2 percent in 2007. Those figures reflect changes in inventory, he said, but still show a significant shift in buyers’ preferences.

Buyers who once would have headed straight for the sleek lines and polished finishes of new condominiums are discovering a different sector of the market: almost-new condos.Buildings finished a few years ago appeal to these buyers, because they can offer a contemporary aesthetic without many of the risks that come with brand-new construction. Chances are good that a building well beyond infancy, and maybe even toddlerhood, has already overcome any growing pains. Banks also view established buildings more favorably, making mortgages easier to come by. On top of that, prices are often lower than for comparable new units.“Almost-new development seems to be picking up steam, and I think it’s because it’s seen as an alternative for people who want new construction,” said Jonathan J. Miller, the president of the appraisal firm Miller Samuel and a partner in Condominium Recovery, which invests in real estate. “Almost-new has all the amenities that were widely touted during the boom, but they’re already established. All the kinks have been worked out, and there are no empty units to worry about.”
By Vivian S. Toy, April 29, 2010 NYT

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