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Latest posts by Larry Rothman (see all)
- Voting Particulars of Board Elections in Condo’s and Co-op’s - July 21, 2018
- You Can’t Always Rely on Square Footage Numbers - July 20, 2018
- Understanding a Co-op Ownership Structure and Proprietary Lease - July 17, 2018
Your dream apartment may be a Park Avenue penthouse with the latest appliances along with a newly renovated kitchen and bathroom. For many, this is out of reach, of course. Still, there are plenty of people, particularly first time home buyers, that have unrealistic expectations, causing them to miss out on great apartments.
We can assist you in avoiding this fate by helping you create a useful list to consider as you conduct your home search.
When examining your needs, try to anticipate what these will be down the road. For instance, if you are newly married and planning on children down the road, you should think about those requirements. Similarly, if you have an elderly parent and you think he or she might live with you, factor this in, too. Remember, you may plan to upgrade in a couple of years, but the real estate market may be vastly different and selling your unit may take more time than you anticipate.
- Location: Think about your living needs outside of the apartment. Do you want to be able to walk to work? Are shops nearby? Do you prefer to live close to transportation? Does a busy street bother you? Do you want to live in a neighborhood with many young families?
- Size of the building. Do you want to live in a high-rise building? On the other hand, is townhouse living more your style? Perhaps brownstones charm you.
- Square footage of your unit: Can this accommodate your lifestyle? Do your furniture and other items fit?
- The number of bedrooms: This is a basic question to answer. Remember, a seller may claim it is a two bedroom apartment, but there are legal definitions based on minimum square footage, along with at least one window that opens to the street, yard, garden, or court on the same lot, and a heating/cooling element. There must also be two means to exit (windows count, along with doors).
- The number of bathrooms: If you are a family of five, think about the waiting time.
This is where things get interesting and potentially complicated. You may only need 800 square feet to live comfortably, but you want 2,000 square feet to live very comfortably. Excluding these considerations, we compile a list of wants to consider.
- Door attendant: You may think this is indispensable, but we put this in the want category.
- Building amenities: If you like everything about the apartment, and it meets all of your needs, consider what you want in the building versus what you need. Going to the gym may be a part of your lifestyle, but you can go to a local place if the building does not have one.
- Apartment amenities: This includes flooring and windows. There are certain features, such as walk-in closets, a master suite, and an updated kitchen, that are not easy or inexpensive to put in place. Therefore, we advise prioritizing what you really want. You may want hardwood floors, but you can install these later, providing it is not against your house rules, and it fits your budget.
- Appliances: If your unit has outdated appliances, remember you can purchase these down the line.
- Decorating style: Many people are intent on avoiding what they consider a poorly decorated apartment. However, many of these, such as painting and removing wallpaper, are quick, easy fixes.
- Living space: Consider how important the layout is to you.
When to Settle on Your Wish List
Whenever anyone plans a move to New York City, they tend to be in for some reality checks. While making a move tends to be inspiring, searching for the perfect property to live tends to cause some sticker shock, to say the least, whether you are moving in from home or abroad. To help you stay strong and bear the brunt of the disappointment before you even start looking for a property, here are a few tips to help you readjust your expectations.
Make a Wish List-And Be Prepared to Modify It
As you prepare for your meeting with a real estate buyer’s brokermake a wish list of everything, you desire in a property. Be forewarned, however, that many of your desires may not be met. If you are serious about buying property in NYC, know that you will likely have to compromise on your vision.
For example, while many local and foreign buyers are used to having lots of space and some type of yard or garden, these luxuries are rare in New York. You will most likely be surprised to know that even exclusive buildings have smaller spaces and fewer outdoor options than many other cities in the world.
Knowing what you want can help your realtor narrow down your list and give you realistic options that fit your broader needs—and your budget. If you have always dreamed of having a swimming pool in your building, know that it probably won’t happen because of all the luxury properties in New York, only about a dozen feature swimming pools. Being prepared to compromise on unnecessary items like swimming pools will help make your transition to the Big Apple easier.
Also be prepared to compromise on things like size, ceiling height, and even the building itself. New York isn’t the most expensive city in the world, but it is up there. The price per square foot is much higher than in other places in the country and even the world, so your lifestyle may be slightly altered from the one you are used to. In return for your potentially smaller space, you have the city of New York at your doorstep.
New York real estate is great for investors because it is a liquid market. And right now, interest rates are at an all-time low, making it the perfect time to invest. While there is a stereotype that foreign investors pay in all-cash, in reality, many foreign investors also take advantage of fixed-rate financing. This way, they can lock in the lower rate over the life of the mortgage, something that is unavailable in many other countries.
If a property doesn’t feel right to you, go ahead and sleep on it. Don’t feel rushed if you are still uncertain.
Remember too, that your home is also an investment. The longer you own the property, the better. If you sell too quickly or at the wrong time, you may lose money by getting stuck in the downward trend. And with today’s economy, you have to be even more patient.
For buyers planning to own the home for five years, make it closer to seven in the current market. Your home should match your demands and be sustainable through the trends of the market or a rental yield.
This means that if you can hold on to a property, you can rent it when you move out, to maintain a profit.
Finding a perfect property isn’t easy, but compromise is the key to getting as close as possible.
When thinking about your housing needs and wants, it is helpful to write things down, even creating a checklist. You should not be able to live without the items on your essentials list. After that, it is about prioritizing your wants. It is not easy to give up certain things you want, but your search may prove frustrating if you do not compromise.