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Think you’re ready to become a homeowner? By this point, you’ve doubtlessly made some significant changes in your life and taken a long, hard look at your finances. To help you in this journey, consult this helpful home buyer’s checklist.
1. Locate an Agent: If possible, you should try to interview at least three real estate agents before making a decision. Keep in mind that there are different types of real estate companies: some work on behalf of only sellers or only buyers, others that work either for buyers and sellers and still others that attempt to work for both simultaneously. Companies like Elika that work only for buyers are called Exclusive Buyer Agent (EBA) companies, and you should at least speak with one before making your final decision.
2. Work out a Pre-approval: Assuming a mortgage is in your future, you’ll want to set up a pre-approval. This will allow you to establish a certain level of comfort with your mortgage payments, and to plan your budget. If you’ve found a good agent, they should be able to refer you to some fair lenders. Just make sure there’s no conflict of interest between the real estate company and the lender–they shouldn’t be associated.
by John Fraissinet on Flickr
3. Begin Looking at Prospective Homes: With a well-prepared agent and depending on desirable available inventory, you likely will be able to visit roughly 3 to 15 different apartments per day. Beware of concentrating only on open houses, though; typically, the number of available apartments will be much more significant in any area you target.
4. Start Narrowing Your Choices Down: Once you’ve had a good look at your options, you should begin to focus on only two or three apartments. Plan a follow-up visit to do a more detailed viewing of each home. With any luck, you’ll find at least one suitable alternative if your front-runner falls through.
5. Learn about Purchase Contracts: Many first-time homebuyers make the mistake of failing to closely review their contract before signing. Sit down with your attorney to review processes, documents, negotiation strategies, and any other relevant considerations while you’re still searching. The added confidence when it comes time to sign will be well worth your time.
6. Get an Attorney: It’s customary in New York City for home buyers to have an attorney represent them during the buying process. Real estate transactions in the city are complex, and sellers often will have their lawyer on hand as well.
7. Review Comparable Sales Data: Begin reviewing comparable sales data, so you know the fair market value for the apartment you’re considering. Be sure you’re watching market values—if they aren’t stable (i.e., are frozen or dropping), you should check out the market inventory and rate of absorption. An experienced buyers agent will guide you through this process with additional industry data and resources.
8. Submit an Offer and Begin Negotiations: Having chosen a particular home, you’ll want to make a written offer right away. In the case, you reach an accepted offer keep in mind that should another buyer come along and place a higher offer on the property before you, and the seller has signed the contracts there is a chance the seller may decide to go with the higher offer. A deal is not done until both the buyer and seller have signed the contract of sale.
by Jurgen Leckle on Flickr
9. Put it in Writing and Move Forward: If the negotiations have reached a point where a fair price has been accepted, then now is time to get ink on paper with the seller. If your negotiations have stalled or turned against your favor, though, you’ll want to move on to the next home and try again elsewhere.
10. Start Shopping for a Mortgage Deal: Once you have a contract in the bag, you’ll want to shop for a good deal on your mortgage. Start with the lender which has pre-approved you in addition to one other, and then perform cost comparisons to narrow down your choice. Keep these things in mind as you shop:
❏ Type of loan (and your credit profile)
❏ Amount of your loan
❏ The loan’s lock period (your closing date determines this)
❏ The quote’s date and time (rates often fluctuate throughout any given day)
11. Get an Inspection for the Home: Be sure to confirm the home passes all the major inspection criteria—structural integrity, plumbing, electrical work, lead, radon, termites, and all applicable…
12. Square Away Your Insurance: here are the necessary things you’ll need on which you’ll need to provide information:
❏ Address and county, construction year, and type of dwelling
❏ Number of total apartments in the building/complex
❏ Roof type
❏ Heating type (also any other types of heating, like fireplaces or wood-burning stoves)
❏ Proximity to fire hydrants and the nearest fire department
❏ Information about the locks (deadbolts, chain locks, etc.)
❏ Electrical service info
❏ Square footage of your intended home
13. Submit your Purchase application to Receive Condo approval or Set Up an Interview with a Coop Board: To get approval for your co-op, you’ll need to get approval from the board. Bring a copy of your board application with you, or at the very least, have the information below handy for the meeting:
❏ Copies of your tax returns for the required period
❏ REBNY Financial Statement highlighting your assets and liabilities
❏ Paycheck stubs, bank statements, and statements for any 401(k), mutual funds, and stocks you may own
❏ Letters of recommendation
❏ Documents/references to verify your current employment and your history of employment.