How to check up on a developer’s track record

When it comes to vetting the track record of a developer (and much like anything else these days), a Google search won’t be enough. After all, you’re making a significant investment and you need to know that you’ll be in good hands. Let’s talk about the process of uncovering a developer’s history so that you can make as informed a decision as possible. Be warned (or get excited, depending on your interest in being a private detective): this will require some sleuthing.

Where to start

The most important piece of info to get you started shouldn’t be difficult to find — it’s in your offering plan. That’s where you’ll find the names of the principles involved in the project. Write these down; you’ll need them. Yes, you’ll want to start by doing some basic Google searches on each of them. It’s still the best place to start but you’ll also want to delve deeper.

Moving beyond Google

Next, you’re going to turn to social media and forums. Aside from Reddit, many real estate sites offer forums, including StreetEasy, Curbed, and Brownstoner — all names that should be familiar to New Yorkers on the property hunt. Here, you can either search for the names of those principles or post a question yourself (which might yield more fruitful responses to specific concerns). Another good resource? Your real estate attorney, who is likely familiar with most of the regular players in local real estate.  

Finally, search the developer’s past projects on StreetEasy to look at what properties sold for and the names of brokers associated with those sales. They will be an especially rich source of valuable info and will likely be eager to earn your trust.

Reaching out to the right people

Once you’ve exhausted the info available to you online, it’s time to reach out to people who may have specialized knowledge, including the attorney assigned to the offering plan (yes, every development will have one of these and you can find out who is on your potential new building by contacting the New York State Attorney General’s office. You can ask them about the developer’s track record with other buildings, as well as whether they are generally in compliance or if there are significant pending issues. 

Ask for what you need

Don’t be afraid to exercise your due diligence. This is a huge investment and deserves careful consideration, so be wary of being rushed or brushed aside. Word of mouth can be a powerful tool when assessing a developer’s track record. If possible, talk to individuals who have purchased condos from the developer in the past, and inquire about their experiences. Keep in mind that while some negative reviews are common in any industry, a pattern of consistent complaints should be taken seriously.

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