Being a first time home buyer is always challenging and a bit nerve-racking, but being a first time New York home buyer is a completely different ball game. The NYC real estate market is like no other in the country thanks to its competitiveness and its unique quirks. If you’re about to embark on your own adventure in New York City real estate, here are the top five things you should know to maximize your chances of securing the perfect home or apartment of your very own.

Be Prepared With Your Down Payment

While 20 percent had long been the traditionally required down payment on a home, mortgage lenders have become more flexible in many parts of the country, allowing first-time buyers to get away with a much smaller down payment. This is not the case in NYC. The vast majority of non-rental apartments in NYC are in co-ops, and most co-ops won’t allow for less than 20 percent down (and sometimes require much more). Condos are more flexible, but you’ll still need at least 10 percent down plus closing costs. In other words, save those pennies.

Find a Buyer’s Broker to Help In Your Search

NYC is an extremely competitive real estate market, and you need to grab any advantage that you can. Working with a buyer’s broker can give you a step up. These experts can provide valuable insights into neighborhoods and comparable sales in addition to representing your best interests when it comes time for negotiation. Moreover, since the seller will be the one to actually pay your broker’s commission, this valuable resource won’t cost you anything.

Know What You’re Looking For–But Keep an Open Mind

With so many neighborhoods and such a vast range in price, knowing what you’re looking for is essential to making your apartment search efficient. However, you need to keep an open mind as you start visiting open houses. In almost every case, there’s no such thing as a perfect NYC apartment, and you will probably need to make compromises. As you get further along in your search, you may even find something that fits your needs better than your original vision did.

Be Ready to Act Quickly

The secret to success in the NYC real estate market is acting quickly. The most desirable apartments will be snapped up fast, often within days of going to market. Be certain to have your mortgage preapproval in hand, be ready to submit a quick offer, and don’t low-ball for an apartment that you really want.

Get Comfortable With Being Outbid

Because NYC’s real estate market is so competitive, you stand an excellent chance of being outbid when you do place your first offer. The average first-time buyer simply can’t compete with the growing number of all-cash buyers looking to invest in the city. Stay upbeat and remember that being outbid is a minor setback; your perfect apartment is right around the corner.


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