Real estate is all about supply and demand, and right now in New York City, as it is in most markets nationwide, there is too much of the former and
Developers holding dozens of unsold new condos have to do something more than offer a few upgrades in kitchen appliances or a part of closing costs in order to entice the nervous. According to an article in the Real Estate section of the Sunday New York Times this weekend, those developers are beginning to mimic electronics and other retailers with a series of "price protection guarantees" that anyone contemplating property in the southern U.S. might do well to consider. The way it works is straightforward and contractual: If you sign up to pay $500,000 for a unit, for example, and the same (or almost the same) unit elsewhere in the building sells for $475,000 before you close, you get the lower price.
The guarantee is a little easier to execute in a condo complex where units are essentially the same size and configuration than, say, for properties in a golf community. But if two parties to a real estate transaction agree, you can write just about anything into a contract (short of violating local zoning laws). For example, if you are interested in a lot adjacent to a golf course but want some price protection, you could negotiate a clause with the developer that would reduce your purchase price if another lot on the golf course sells for less than yours (on a dollar per acre basis). Barring that, you could try for a contingency that says if similar properties sell for less than the price you signed up for before your closing, you can back out of the deal.
If you are that relatively rare person in the market for a home or property, don't be afraid to get creative. You have all the leverage, and you would be foolish not to push for the best possible deal.