So, you’re leaping. After living as a renter in the Big Apple for a decade or more, you’re in a position to buy a New York apartment ––– finally. You’ve sacrificed and saved your pennies for the past five years, so now it’s time to become a homeowner in New York City. No matter how much apartment you can afford or in which neighborhood you plan to live, heed these first-time buyer’s tips to ensure your initial home-buying experience goes off without a hitch.
Know what you want and need.
Whether you’re looking for a fixer-upper townhouse in Brownstone Brooklyn, or a studio apartment in a walk-up building in West Harlem, focus your search as narrowly as possible and do it with a wish list in hand. Shopping aimlessly in a city of endless choices doesn’t work with designer clothing, let alone real estate –– an H&M budget won’t get you a suit from Prada, much in the same way a one-bedroom budget in Washington Heights won’t get you a sprawling two-bedroom in the West Village.
Know what you want, need, and can afford before you begin the process, and keep your attention fixated on those neighborhoods and apartments that are a good match for your lifestyle.
Work with an exclusive buyer’s agent.
If you’re serious about buying real estate in New York City, secure an exclusive buyer’s agent at the start. A qualified buyer’s agent will guide you in the right direction, have access to listings before you will, and be able to negotiate terms and price on your behalf. Don’t know where to begin to find a compatible broker? Ask friends, family, and coworkers for recommendations, and interview your prospective agents before you sign on the dotted line and agree to work with him or her.
Get pre-approved for a mortgage.
Don’t waste your time, a seller’s time, or the time of the brokers involved in the sale by not getting pre-qualified. Obtain a pre-approval letter before you begin searching for your next residence, ensuring that you’ll have the ability to make an offer should you stumble upon “the one.” Without pre-approval, agents and buyers won’t take you seriously, and they’ll move on to a buyer who has the necessary paperwork. Plus, you’ll know how much cash you qualify to borrow ahead of your search.
Based on the initial wish list you had made before you began shopping, you might not be able to afford Park Slope, even though you have your heart set on that neighborhood. Adjacent areas of Brooklyn, however, could offer more space and additional amenities and still be within your budget, so stay open-minded.
If you aren’t prepared to stray from your dream section of NYC, adjust your list and scratch off that extra bath, or the outdoor space, both of which add thousands of dollars to an asking price.
Be ready to make an offer.
And, of course, when you find an apartment in a desirable location with an abundance of features you want, and it’s listed at an acceptable price, be ready to make an offer as soon as possible. Hesitate, and you could lose the deal to another buyer.