Condominium 'supermarket'

Moving for the young -- and the elderly -- is a challenging experience at best and is compounded when going into a completely new environment and life style.

The search for a new home, townhouse or condominium in south Florida is often particularly difficult because the communities in the popular Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach Counties are spread out and each area has its own individual characteristics.

Two former publishing executives, Richard Bernstein and Valaria DeVine, whose previous magazines dealt with housing, were convinced that a "supermarket" concept was needed and would be accepted, so that the potential buyer would not have to go blindly from development to development in search of housing.

"From experience we have found that the newcomer to south Florida is either from another state or from another country," says Ms. DeVine. "They don't know where to begin as far as finding what they want. Their conception of the ideas of the various types of community life styles" often differs sharply from what really exists.

The supermarket idea has come into being with the South Florida New Homes and Condominium Information Center located at 3955 North Federal Highway. Now on display are the brochures, color photos, development layout, type of housing, prices, features, etc., of 37 supporting developers, and each week the center is adding new developers.

All told, there are approximately 675 projects in Broward and Palm Beach Counties alone.

A "library" containing the salient information on more than 500 developments in Palm Beach and Broward Counties also is available to the home buyer. If additional information is requested, such as financing, the visitor is taken to a telephone console where he can talk directly to the sales office of the particular development.

"I would like to stress," explains Ms. Devine, "we do not act or represent ourselves to be real-estate brokers or salesmen. We do not make recommendations of any kind."

The service is free and is supported by the developers who pay a monthly fee for the display of their product.This includes the services of two counselors at the information center.

People also want to know more about the area they might select, such as libraries, accessibility to cultural events, schools, taxes, community services, and the amenities offered in a particular development and in the communities as a whole.

The South Florida New Homes and Condominium Information Center is open Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Assist ance also can be given by calling (305) 785- 5723.

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