At times like this, when large fluctuations in prices are occurring quickly but not systematically, the art of spotting a good deal becomes a whole lot trickier – and a whole lot more important.
A number of factors complicate the matter. The first and foremost of which is the role of your home in your personal finances. For most people, even for many exceptionally wealthy people, their home is their single largest investment. Keeping this fact in mind complicates the buying process. Finding the best deal becomes not a process of finding the lowest price on a reasonable piece of property, but a search for a New York City apartment that is also a quality long-term investment.
Second, at the end of the day, no matter how many great search engines and housing listings there are, nothing can substitute for the actual visiting of apartments. Homes are idiosyncratic things, and you’ll often find something that you really cherish, but that doesn’t necessarily add much to the final price tag. These types of almost quirky New York City apartments are often where you find the best deals, when you find the one that is just right for you.
It’s this type of apartment-to-apartment, on-foot searching that is often the most crucial stage of the buying process. It’s also where working with a buyer’s broker can save you an incredible amount of time and effort. Buyer’s brokers know the market like the back of their hand and aren’t interested in selling you something from a limited inventory.
One statistic that is particularly helpful in determining whether or not an apartment is a great deal is the price per square foot, not as it relates to all apartments in the city – though that’s helpful, too – but how that price relates to similar apartments.
A particular point to remember when on the prowl for deals: 20% off of a New York apartment that was 30% over-valued is still a bad deal. In this city, prices shot sky-high before the crash, and they are going to take a while to come back to earth. Right now, a lot of the price movement has been movement off peak prices – not off a more objective measure of the actual value of the apartments. All this is to say that you shouldn’t be dazzled by the difference between the current and previous asking price.
Sellers all too frequently confuse their hoped-for price with the actual price. Real estate markets function: If no one was buying at the previous price, it was for a reason.


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