Tips for First-Time Buyers

1. Know what you want and your financial affordability.

2. Start with realistic goals.

  • There is no perfect property.
  • Prioritize your requirements. Identify the features that you “must have” vs. features that are “nice to have”.

3. Be financially prepared.
Make sure everything is in order, financially. You should have enough in savings to cover both down payment, closing costs and about two years in liquid asset for the combined mortgage payment and the common charge in order to be financially acceptable by the residential board . Double-check your personal credit reports and keep an organized file of all financial information you might need.

4. Know when to, and who to, ask for help.
Consult the professional for their advice you trust.

5. Obtain a mortgage pre-approved letter.
Before you even begin to look for your new home, discuss options for a pre-approved mortgage with an experienced lender. Having a loan secured before you begin negotiations will lend you credibility and increase your options.

6. Know your own timeline and any contingency.
When will you want to purchase by and why? If you are currently a renter, how much time remains on your lease? Are you permitted to sublet? Does your current home need to be listed for sale? Know when things have to happen, and in what order. It will make the whole process go more smoothly.
Is your purchase of the new home contingent upon the sale of your current residence?
Is the sale of your current residence contingent upon the job relocation?

7. Take the long-term view.
Will your new home be your ultimate abode, or as a starter home? The decision between a starter home and a long-term, family home may influence the choices you make in looking for your new property, as well as influence which sort of mortgage loan may be best suited to your needs.

8. Do NOT cut corners.
With the advice of the real estate broker, smart buyers will know when to have a home inspection before purchase in Manhattan. It is advisable for townhouse and buildings. In the case of condo and co-op apartments, it is not a standard practice to inspect before buying.

9. Don’t over-leverage yourself.
While your new home may be your dream, don’t forget that you will need to set aside money for maintenance, real estate tax and decoration, as well as other financial goals. Don’t spend everything on the house itself.

10. Find the right real estate agent to work with.
Look for real estate professionals who share your principles and style. Buying a new home is a highly emotional commitment, and major financial investment. Be sure that the agent is experienced and compatible. Your real estate agent works with you and has your best interests in mind.

11. Avoid second guessing.
If you find your ideal home, don’t wait and see if the housing market shifts in your favor or try to second-guess interest rate changes. Relevant changes don’t generally happen quickly enough to make a significant difference and excellent properties never stay on the market for long, particularly in New York City.

12. Don’t outsmart yourself.
Shrewd negotiating might save you a bundle, but you have to be careful not to negotiate yourself right out of the deal. Trying for that rock-bottom price could very well lose you the property.

13. Look to the future.
Buyer’s remorse is common, particularly for a big ticket item like a new home. Trust your choices and remember, your home is an investment. Come up with a post-home buying budget. Factor in repairs, decorating costs and maintenance. Don’t get caught short and allow your new investment, your home, to deteriorate.