The buyer was adamant: She wanted the penthouse at the Langston, a Hamilton Heights condo, as long as she got to keep most of the furniture that had been used to stage it. The sales agent, Halstead’s John Crafton, contacted the developers, who said yes. “If they’re good candidates and will have no problem getting a mortgage, you can’t let them go,” says Crafton.
Though developers of new condos have always been competitive, it takes tons more wooing to snag buyers lately. Amid concerns about oversupply, they are now far more willing to offer buyers concessions and, from time to time, discounts. “When we were first looking [last year], sales offices were packed,” says Scott Greenberg, who, disenchanted with the market, moved to Fort Lee with his wife, Audrey. “Now it’s easier to make appointments.” (Indeed: On Memorial Day weekend, the Greenbergs found a condo-branded truck parked in the West Nineties, with a representative trying to persuade—beseeching?—passersby to schedule a visit.) One broker says when he brings clients in these days, he immediately gets e-mails and phone calls from marketers eager to make the sale. “The playing field has leveled a bit,” admits David Picket, the Langston’s developer.
Hence the concessions: According to TrueGotham and UrbanDigs, two blogs that track incentives, buyers are getting everything from $10,000 worth of custom closets to paid transfer taxes to fully covered closing costs, which can amount to the mid–five figures. (Freebie flat-screen TVs— a circa-2006 gimmick—just aren’t enough anymore.) Aside from giving away furniture, Picket says he’s also agreed to minor renovations. “We’ve already done well,” he explains. “We only have four units left. I’d like to be done and not hold on for the last nickel.” New rental buildings with hundreds of units to unload are offering enticements, too. At 20 Exchange Place in the financial district (pictured), creditworthy renters are allowed to waive security deposits. “We are sensitive to what’s happening in the market,” says Jack Berman of Metro Loft Management, which owns the building. “I’m starting to get calls from existing tenants [up for renewals], who say they like the building but they’re worried they may not have a job.”