IN RECENT YEARS, the Rock Development Corp. has built about 35 two-family homes annually in the Far Rockaway and Arverne sections of Queens. But if you are looking to purchase one of these homes this year, you’re out of luck: Contracts for those under construction were signed months ago. Buyers coming in now are committing to building starts for spring 2002 and beyond, said Andrew Langer, vice president of Rock Development in Far Rockaway. And so it goes throughout Long Island and Queens. Demand for newly constructed single-family homes, condos, co-ops, senior housing and rental apartments continues to be strong, with buyers often finding all units spoken for by the time they learn about a project. When something comes on the market, it’s gone immediately, said Steve West, a partner of Homeworks Modular Homes,a Ronkonkoma-based builder. “Demand is exceedingly strongly added Michael Dubb, a partner in The Beechwood Organization in Jericho, which has 3,000 units under construction or in the planning stage. “We are continuing to raise prices and sell homes in record numbers ~ So how did those people who beat you to the house you wanted find out about it before you did? Sometimes it’s a matter of luck and timing, but there are ways of learning about new housing early on in the construction process.
Here are seven ways to help you find new construction before the -sold” sign goes up for somebody else— and you’re left once again, frustrated and out of the hunt.
1. FOLLOW LOCAL GOVERNMENT PROCEEDINGS. Nearly all housing projects are reviewed and then either accepted or rejected by local municipalities. To learn about projects in their infancy, attend zoning and planning board meetings in the towns and villages where you want to live, said Robert Clifford, spokesman for the Town of Babylon. Meetings are open to the public. If you pay attention, you will have a good handle on what’s being planned. And if approval is granted, you can then contact the developer.
In Yaphank, for example, The Beechwood Organization has proposed a senior citizen project with 700 townhomes, rental apartments and detached houses that is being reviewed by the Brookhaven Town Planning Department, Dubb said. If approved, Beechwood hopes to begin selling in the fall of 2002. It also has mother 72-home project in Medford awaiting approval from Brookhaven. Katy Anastasio, owner of Anastasio Associates Inc., a Huntington real estate agency, said she finds out what new construction might be in the works by checking tax records in local town halls to. see ~ what land has changed hands. She then keeps an eye on parcels that interest her.
2. FOLLOW THE NEWS. Because a new development can affect a community, the news media often reports on upcoming projects, said Robert A. Wieboldt, executive vice president of the Long Island Builders Institute, an Islandia-based trade group. This gives an early indication of an impending condo, co-op, rental or other development project. For instance, when Alexan Brookhaven, a 794-unit gated luxury townhouse rental project in Bellport that opened its leasing office in January, people had already contacted the developer, Trammell Crow Residential, said property manager Maria Regopoulos. They had learned about the project from news stories announcing the project and following the approval process. In addition, the planning or building departments notify daily and weekly papers of their agendas regarding things such as a developer’s request to rezone land for new housing, Clifford said. These are often listed in newspaper calendars of events and meetings as well as legal notices.
3. DRIVE AROUND THE COMMUNITIES YOU’RE INTERESTED IN. This not only helps you learn about an area, but you may spot a sign announcing a new project, Wieboldt said. Signs are particularly good for finding what’s called “spot developments —a single house on a vacant piece of land in an established neighborhood. “I have signs on all the vacant land I own,” said Rock Development’s Langer. The signs don’t say when the homes will be built, but state that they are two-family homes and list a phone number. People can then call the number for the particulars, he said. Before Alexan Brookhaven’s opening, a sign, including the builder’s Web site, announced the project was coming. Nevertheless, by the time a sign appears, you may find that a project is already sold out. Visit the sales office anyway, Anastasio advised. Ask the builder if he has other current or future projects. And even when you visit a construction site, what you see can be deceiving. In the case of Alexan Brookhaven, 140 of the rental units are built with almost all leased, Rigopoulos said. But new six-unit buildings are still being constructed and opened monthly. Leases for these units are now being written for September and there are another 654 units to come.
4. TO FIND OUT ABOUT SENIOR HOUSING, JOIN ALCOHOL GROUP. The Senior Resources Network in Rockville Centre publishes a quarterly newsletter on new and upcoming senior housing, said president Don J. Mariani. The group learns about projects by talking to town leaders, architects and builders and by tracking down umconfirmed reports, he said. In its current issue, for example, the group updates news on Narragansett Villas in Lindenhurst, which it has been following for nearly three years. The 138-unit condominium commumity for seniors 55 and older on East Montauk Highway should soon be approved, Mariani said. The newsletter also discusses a new proposed 164-unit senior rental development on land next to Belmont State Park in Babylon. A petition to range the zoning from industrial to residential has been filed, he said. Subscriptions to Senior Resources Network are $19.95 a year and include access to its information hotline. (To subscribe call 800-569-2053). Another group, Senior Housing Consultants in Syosset, has a mailing list informing those that sign up of new senior housing projects, said Fern Karhu, who runs the group along with Bart Cafarella.
Senior Housing is affiliated with Prudential Long island Realty, but members do not have to buy or sell through the real estate office. (To join call 516-921-2870 ext. 242. There is no fee.) Karhu and Cafarella also host Seniors On The Move,” a radio show aired on WLIUX 540AM Mondays 7 p.m. to 8 p.m where senior housing is discussed. And they frequently lecture at-libraries and senior centers. ‘ The pair learns about new projects by “doing a lot of digging,” Karhu said. They stay in touch with developers, politicians and others to track down leads. Karhu’s members, for example, recently learned that Oyster Bay Town approved construction of a new 136-unit co-op under its Golden Age program, called Cambridge Court, in Bethpage on South Oyster Bay Road. There are income requirements and priority will be being given to seniors -62 and older who live in Hicksville School District 17. Applications are obtained by contacting Senior Housing or Oyster Bay Town at 516-624-6172.
5. SEARCH THE INTERNET. The Web site of the Long island Builders institute, www.libi.org, lists new projects by price, location and builder, including the builder’s Web address. The institute site’s downside, LIBl’s Wieboldt said, is that projects are not always listed in advance of their opening, so some Home buyers may already have gotten a jump on them through other sources. There will soon be a direct link from the institute’s site to each builder’s Web site, where you can see floor plans, model photos and sometimes Learn about future projects, Wieboldt For example, The Beechwood Organization recently spent $50,000 upgrading its site www.beechwoodhomes.com. It lists current and future projects, Dubb said.
Five years ago, Homeworks Modular Homes in Ronkonkoma started a national Web site that matches buyers with builders. Buyers log onto www.modularcenter.com and fill out a form listing what they are looking for, including price and area. The Web site covers 93 percent of the counties in the United States, said partner Steve West. The form is automatically e-mailed to builders in the requested area; and those who have homes available can contact potential buyers. In addition, by logging onto mlslirealtor.com, the Long island Board of Realtors Web site, you can find new construction sold through real estate agents, Anastasio said. Local real estate offices also have their own Web sites that list new construction, she said. And you can also link to the Web sits of several builders through newsday.com’s real estate page..
6. CONTACT BUILDERS ABOUT THEIR PLANS. Not all builders discuss future plans, but some will. Homeworks Modular Homes, which builds modular homes on land it owns from Great Neck to Montauk as well as on a buyer s own land, discusses future spot sites with those who contact them, West said. But some builders ~proposed developments are often a pipe dream Wieboldt warned. The project may never get financing or municipal approval. Print advertisements are still a major source of information about developers’ new projects. For example, Beechwood places ads not only featuring current projects like Country Pointe At Alley Pond—two-family homes priced from $439,000 in Queens Village—but also runs ads promoting upcoming developments such as 110 townhomes in Miller Place from $289,900 and 88 townhomes in Smithtown from $325,000.
7. CONTACT A REAL ESTATE BROKER. Agents often sell builders land, Anastasio said. Once a house is constructed the builder returns to the agent to sell it. This is particularly true of spot builders. Sometimes, the builder hasn’t closed on the land and there’s a buyer for the house, she said. By maintaining a relationship with an agent, you can sometimes find out about these homes early on. For example, Anastasio is marketing a new 4-bedroom home on a half-acre in Huntington for $439,000. Not only did she help the builder find the land, but in this case, the builder is her husband. Some real estate agencies, such as Daniel Gale and Prudential, have a division that deals exclusively with new construction. While many big builders often have their own marketing departments, they are sometimes staffed by real estate offices such as Lane Realty in Jericho and Realty Group Marketing in Smithtown, which specialize in marketing new homes for developers.