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More Buyers Are Scooping Up Presale Condos in NYC

What's a buyer to do when there's not enough inventory on the market? Turn to homes that aren't yet finished.

Photo by: Zillow The residences at Chelsea's 35XV won't be completed until 2014, but 24 of the 55 units have already gone under contract, according to the building's website.

It happened before the housing market crash, and now it's happening again: Buyers are snapping up new condos before construction is even finished. According to the Wall Street Journal, the "sight-unseen" market is alive and kicking, thanks to low inventory and the influx of foreign buyers.

A prime example is 56 Leonard in Tribeca. It's still midconstruction, but 80 percent of the 145 units are already under contract, including a $47 million penthouse. One57 isn't slated for completion until 2014, but nearly three-quarters of the 92 units are claimed. "Today we see presales as early as two to three years away from completion," Kelly Kennedy Mack, president of the Corcoran Sunshine Marketing Group, told the Journal.

During the crash, condo developments were stalling left and right, and buyers grew wary of purchasing homes that might possibly languish midconstruction. (To this day, buyers are still caught up in litigation against developers in the hopes of recouping down payments.) The wariness seems to be fading, though, and according to the Journal, developers are getting creative when it comes to enticing early buyers. Alchemy Properties used a drone to film projected views from the top of 35XV, a 24-floor Flatiron condo that is only halfway finished. The footage has been incorporated into a sales video. Alfa Development staged a polar bear exhibition at a Chelsea pop-up gallery, partly to help save polar bears but also to promote Chelsea Green, a 51-unit development.

What about you? Would you buy an apartment based only on floor plans, model units and flashy videos?

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