Condo Crunch

There's something seductive about new condo projects. The slick marketing, the efficient floor plans, the free booze at the launch party. New condos promise a new life, an organized life, a tidy, clean, no-pet-furballs-rolling-across-the-floor life. Maybe that's why, one night last week, I tried to convince my boyfriend that a 330 square-foot studio apartment is a really good investment.

"Amore mio," he said, in Italian, shaking his head. We were huddled in a tiny kitchen in a tiny studio for sale at The Boutique, a new condo-conversion near the 79th Street Causeway. He pointed with his free beer at the folded-up Murphy bed. "Are you going to pull that down whenever you want to take a nap? And what about the cats? We won't be able to get away from them." I sighed, imagining our cats leaping from the bed to the

kitchen counter. But the price was so right, I pleaded. $140,000! The wood floor! The Lilliputian dishwasher!

The boyfriend wondered how much the one-bedrooms were. We located a sales guy who was sitting near a plate of cookies (fortunately, the studio was so small that everything appeared to be within arm's reach) and inquired. "About $282,000," the salesman said. He

was trying to sound cheery about the price. I did some calculations in my head; that's about $2,500 a month.

He informed us that he had bought a studio and rolled in the price of a Murphy bed in the mortgage, an extra $5,000. "I got the white lacquer version, much more modern," he said.

We asked about laundry hookups. "There's a laundry room on premises," he said. $280,000 for a 750-square foot condo and you still have to schlep your dirty clothes to the laundry room? We trudged downstairs for more free booze. The developer, an effervescent man from California, showed us the one-bedroom still under construction by candlelight. It seemed gargantuan compared to the studio; its only downside was that the living room window was just feet away from the parking space. "You could see your cars right here!" the

developer said. (Perfect! We could watch someone steal our cars from the

privacy of our own home.)

The developer continued. "You're the type of couple we want here," he said. "Young, professional, educated."

Unfortunately, I thought, those three adjectives don't necessarily translate into homeownership, at least not here in Miami. -Tamara Lush

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