Buying NYC Real Estate

How to Buy New York City Real Estate

The Insiders Guide to Buying New York City Real Estate. Buy the Right NYC Property for the Right Price.


Finding the right property, and determining how to
pay for it are only the preliminary steps in what can be a daunting process. Learn how to purchase New York City real estate hassle free.

Many buyers deal with stress when buying a home or an investment property, as the process of purchasing real estate in New York City can be confusing and overwhelming without the right help.

Elika Associates agents make this process much less stressful and complicated by providing advice and assistance for our clients. We have represented hundreds of buyers in New York, and as we do not offer any seller’s services, we avoid conflicts of interest to provide the best possible services.

Before buying a property, buyers should understand the different types of New York City real estate available in the city. Most of the apartments for sale in New York City are co-operatives. The main difference between cooperative and other types of property is that a co-op apartment building is owned by a corporation, which consists of the building’s residents.

Buyer’s Quick Links

  • New York City Closing Costs: Closing Costs
  • What happens at a Real Estate Closing: Learn More
  • Condo & Coop Purchasing Process/Timeline: Purchasing Timeline

    Featured In


    “Could I begin life again, knowing what I now know, and had money to invest, I would buy every square inch of Manhattan.” John Jacob Astor – America’s first millionaire


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    Let an Elika expert search, filter and send you the best available New York City Condos, Co-ops or Townhouses for sale that match your specific housing needs: REQUEST A CUSTOM SEARCH or CALL: 212-590-0545


    Quik Steps to Buying NYC Real Estate

    Finding a property, and determining how you’re going to pay for it is only the preliminary steps in what can be a long process. In general, terms, buying a home in New York City involves the following steps:

    1. Select a New York City Attorney
    2. If you plan to finance, search out a Mortgage company and pre-qualify for a loan
    3. Decide on your desired neighborhood(s) and begin your search for a Condo or Co-op
    4. Research and perform a comparable market analysis to estimate fair market value for the property
    5. Make an oral offer for purchase
    6. Make a written offer which serves to formalize the intention to buy
    7. Wait for the seller to respond with a counter offer
    8. Negotiate with the seller until common ground has been reached
    9. Due Diligence is performed by your attorney reviewing contract, building financials and minutes
    10. Pay the down payment (typically 10%-20% or more of the purchase price) and sign the contract
    11. Submit an application to the co-op or condominium management company
    12. Upon approval your attorney will coordinate your real estate closing.

    Be Prepared with the following documentation

    1. Personal and Business reference letters (Original Copies)
    2. Pre-approval letter from your Mortgage bank or broker.
    3. Most recent checking and savings bank statements
    4. Previous two years tax returns
    5. List of other liquid or non-liquid assets
    6. Most recent 401K or retirement fund statements (if applicable)
    7. Most recent asset portfolio statements (if applicable)
    8. Employment verification letter confirming your start date, annual salary including bonus
    9. If self employed – letter from your CPA or attorney verifying your salary and net worth

    New York City Real Estate Guide

    Finding the right home can be a daunting task for even the most financially-savvy person. After all, the place you choose will have to suit your needs and finances for years to come. Following a game plan and working with an Elika agent can simplify the process. If you are a foreign buyer you may want to visit our dedicated foreign buyers guide.

    Consider The Following Steps

    Co-op or Condo

    When you purchase an apartment in a cooperative, you are purchasing shares in the corporation. You do not legally own the apartment, but you do own part of the corporation that owns the apartment. Each apartment’s value in shares is calculated according to rules set by the Board of Directors. The prime real estate is valued at a higher number of shares. The Board of Directors runs each cooperative building, paying for its mortgage, taxes, and upkeep. The money that you pay for your shares goes towards these costs. However, to join the co-operative, you will have to be approved by the Board.

    Condominiums are another popular option. A condominium is a more traditional type of property, as buyers purchase the real estate itself. As such, the buyer needs to pay real estate taxes on the property. There are fewer condominiums than cooperatives for sale in New York City.

    Different property types carry different advantages for buyers depending on their goals, financial resources, and other factors. The main advantages of a cooperative are:

    Cooperative apartments are less expensive than condominiums. Taxes are also included in the cost, so buyers often have simpler billing arrangements when buying this type of property. However, a co-op’s Board of Directors may require a large down payment.

    Co-ops are very well-maintained. As the building’s owners are its tenants, there is a strong incentive to keep all apartments in good condition to increase the value of all of the building’s shares. It is still important to visit a cooperative in person with an experienced agent before purchasing to choose a high-quality apartment.

    About 80 percent of the apartments available in New York are cooperatives, so buyers who consider cooperatives along with condominiums will have a wider array of choices when working with a qualified buyer’s agent.

    Advantages of Condos

    There is no Board of Directors with a condominium, so the purchasing process is much simpler and quicker. Building rules are often much more relaxed, especially when it comes to residency. For instance, some buyers who are moving to the United States may have money in foreign accounts, and these buyers have an easier time purchasing condominiums than co-operatives.

    Condos require less of a down payment usually 10%. Mortgage lenders are willing to loan money with a smaller down payment for buyers due to the high demand for condos. In New York City, buyers can often finance condominiums with a down payment of only 20 percent. However, mortgage rates are sometimes higher when a down payment is relatively low.

    Condos are also easier to sublet, as renters do not need to be approved by a Board of Directors. This makes condominiums a much better choice for buyers who are looking for investment properties.

    When buying a home, you should consider how your apartment type will affect its long-term value. Elika Associates agents will help you choose the right type of property and can explain how the buying process differs between these two main types of New York City real estate.

    Qualified Condo Buyer’s Agent

    While some buyers are bogged down by paperwork when buying a home, Elika agents make the process hassle-free. We understand why different properties appeal to different buyers and how to present you with properties that fit your lifestyle. We make sure that our clients understand the purchasing timeline, and by keeping them informed every step of the way, we keep the process hassle-free. As we are familiar with New York neighborhoods and properties, we can also offer a professional, experienced point of view, which is valuable when negotiating, financing and applying.

    New York is one of the most culturally diverse cities in the world, and with hundreds of beautiful neighborhoods, limitless food and entertainment options and relatively stable property values, it is easy to see why people choose to buy New York real estate. However, it ís also easy to make simple mistakes when purchasing in the city. Proper buyer’s representation from Elika is more than a nice touch it is an essential tool that home buyers need to use to limit stress while getting the best possible deal.

    It can take some buyers months or even years to find the right home in New York City. However, the purchasing process is much easier and in most cases, much faster with the right exclusive buyer agent.

    Choosing a Property

    When choosing a property, you will need to decide whether to restrict your search to condominiums or cooperatives. You will also have to understand property value to avoid a bad deal, and whether you are buying a home or an investment property, you will also need to know key information about different neighborhoods. To find a great property, you may have to consider dozens of homes, but an experienced real estate buyer agent will help you narrow your search down to properties that fit your lifestyle.

    As a member of the Real Estate Board of New York (REBNY), we have access to all available New York real estate listings. Our agents work diligently to provide you with a frequently updated list of potential properties. By checking the facts of each property before presenting it to our clients, they can provide accurate information about price, investment potential, lifestyle suitability and more.

    Mortgage Financing

    Most buyers will need to apply for a mortgage. This is often one of the most confusing parts of when purchasing, as you will need to consider different types of mortgages and different mortgage providers to get a good deal.

    We will provide advice and lender recommendations, taking out much of the stress associated with home mortgages. We can help you start to look for a mortgage during negotiations, which will cut down on the time that it takes you to complete your purchase and start enjoying your property.


    In many instances, buyers start negotiating while looking for financing. During the negotiations, you will make an offer on a property, often including a list of essential repairs or other actions that the seller must take before the sale is finalized. The seller will typically make a counter-offer, and the process can go on for several days or weeks in some cases.

    Elika Associates buyer’s agents will perform a comparable market analysis and advise you on your offer, improving the chances that the seller will accept quickly. We will also make sure that counter-offers are fair. As we specialize in New York real estate, we understand the real values of apartments in the city. We only provide buyer’s representation, and we have a strong incentive to help you get the best possible deal on your new property.

    After negotiating, we will help you through the closing and explain all of the documents and paperwork that you will need to close on your new home. Our agents will handle many aspects of negotiations and closings to save you time, but we will always give you the information you need to make smart decisions about your purchase.

    Applying Process

    New York City buyers usually face a lengthy application process unless purchasing in a New Development, as each cooperative’s Board of Directors decides whether to approve a new building resident. The Board may deny a buyer who has insufficient proof of income or for other reasons, depending on the building’s rules.

    Filling out an application correctly is often a time-consuming and stressful process, especially if you are not sure what to include. However, approval from a Board is one of the final steps that buyers need to take to successfully purchase properties in New York City, and as with all other steps in the purchasing process, a real estate agent can help.

    You can efficiently plan for an application if you know what to expect, and Elika Associates buyer’s agents will keep you informed so that you can apply successfully. You will need to include two years of tax returns, personal and professional information, proof of financing, a signed purchase contract and other detailed financial documents, depending on the policies of the Board of Directors. We will help you assemble an attractive application package and submit it to the building’s managing agent.

    Co-op applicants will also need to perform an in-person interview with the Board of Directors. Elika buyer’s agents will help you prepare for your interview, eliminating much of the associated stress and improving the chances of a fast, successful purchase.

    Tips Before Buying in NYC

    Regardless of your price range, attractive, well-maintained properties never stay on the market long. You’ll want to develop a basic understanding of NYC’s tight inventory market before you even begin, though. This will help you negotiate the best price later down the road, and it will reduce your risk of losing out to other bidders:

  • Mortgage Pre-Approval or provide Proof of Funds if paying cash. Sellers are more willing to negotiate with buyers who have proven their ability to purchase a home.

  • Talk to your buyer’s agent on a regular basis to stay on top of new listings as soon as they hit the market, and make time to visit properties you are interested in promptly.

  • Be ready to make a decision. That means knowing exactly what you want and what you can afford so that you recognize, and can act on, a good opportunity when you see it.

  • Compromise: Whether you reside in New York currently or you’re relocating from another state, most buyers experience a bit of sticker shock when they realize the usually modest size of condo or coop they can actually afford. For this reason, compromise is an integral part of the home-buying process in New York City. The question is, just how much should you compromise?
    You don’t want to overextend yourself by buying too big, but you also don’t want to be forced to sell down the road because you didn’t allow room for growth. In a buyer’s market, you should accept a place that satisfies 90 percent or more of your wish list. In a seller’s market, you should buy if a place has 80 percent or more of what you want. When you make out a list of pros and cons for the places you view, consider including a column for compromises so you stay flexible in your demands.

  • Even in a competitive market, protect your interests by insisting on the proper inspections.

  • Before you make an offer, do due diligence on the property with your agent. Get sales data on the property you are interested in, as well as on comparable properties in the neighborhood. Develop a three-tiered price target: The lowest price you could reasonably offer without offending the seller, the price that you and your agent think the seller is most likely to accept, and the maximum price you are willing to pay for the property. Make your offer based on the lower price target, and stick to your limits if the negotiation takes the home price beyond your maximum amount.

  • If financing, ask for a mortgage contingency clause, but if you are in a competitive bidding situation, consider dropping it; it may give you an advantage with the seller. Don’t place restrictions on the sale, such as a delayed closing date, or a contingency clause on the sale of your existing home. If your home hasn’t sold, talk to your lender about a bridge loan to cover both mortgages for a short period.

  • Be accommodating to the seller by offering him the opportunity to choose a closing date at his convenience. Some sellers have not lined up a new place to live by the time their house sells.
    When it comes time to make an offer, don’t panic if your first offer is rejected, or if it turns out you are in a very competitive market. Some buyers are tempted to buy a property at any price if they’ve lost an bidding war in the past. While you want to make your offer as attractive as possible, don’t work against your interests. On the other hand, depending on market sentiment, it may also be worth paying a reasonable premium to win the property. For most buyers, their home is their largest investment; whatever you choose to do, just make sure your investment is a sound one.

    Mr. Elika has proved to be a consummate professional and shown a true and deep understanding of the Manhattan property market.

    Richard Weinberg

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