The Purchase Process
Discuss with your real estate agent a negotiating strategy and make an offer. In New York City, offers are submitted in writing via e-mail, and negotiations proceed back and forth until all aspects of the sale have been agreed to—price, amount to be financed, occupancy date, closing date, disposition of lighting fixtures, etc.
Accepting the offer: There is no legal obligation between buyer and seller until a contract is fully executed. In a hot market, this process should move quickly.
Obtain information about the building you’ve chosen. Your agent and your lawyer will guide you in this process and your attorney will go through the “due diligence process” to evaluate the building's financial and physical condition.
Going to contract: The seller’s attorney prepares the contract and forwards it by messenger to your attorney. Both attorneys consult and agree on all points.
Signing the contract: You sign it first, then it’s sent back to the seller’s attorney to obtain the seller’s signature. A down payment is expected at this point—usually 10% of the contract price, which is held in the seller’s attorney’s escrow account.
Complete the mortgage application, if applicable.
The bank that is providing the mortgage will arrange to have the unit appraised.
Complete the building's purchase application.
If purchasing in a co-op, this process will include an interview.
Closing is arranged by the seller’s and buyer’s attorneys, in conjunction with the lender.
The entire process can take between 1.5 to 5 months.
Start out with a neighborhood (Manhattan, Brooklyn, or Queens) choice and a budget in mind.
Consult your real estate broker, mortgage broker and/or banker regarding a mortgage. (If you need to know how much you can afford, find out before looking.)
Select a real estate attorney, someone who specializes in Manhattan real estate. Suburban lawyers or lawyers who specialize in other fields can spell trouble or delay.
Pre-Qualify For Your Mortgage
You might have an idea of the loan payment and mortgage you can afford. But will the bank feel otherwise? It’s always best to pre-qualify for a mortgage so you know exactly how much a financial institution would be willing to lend you.
In the pre-qualification process, you will find out:
How much cash you will need for the down payment.
The minimum down payment, and advantages of higher down payments.
What the bank feels you can afford for a monthly payment.
For a free pre-qualification please feel free to contact us for a list of mortgage professionals.
Selecting an Agent
The purchase of New York City properties is a complex matter. At first it might seem that by checking online sites you canquickly find the right home at the right price.
But a basic rule in NYC real estate is that all properties are unique.
Homes differ and so do contract terms, financing options, inspection requirements and closing costs. Also, no two transactions are alike. In this maze of forms, financing, inspections, rent controls, marketing, pricing and negotiating, it makes sense to work with professionals who specialize in NYC real estate.
We would like you to use our services. But please check out the competition. You can find agents by searching open houses, local advertising, Web sites, referrals from other REALTORS, recommendations from neighbors and suggestions from lenders, attorneys, financial planners and CPAs. Or if you prefer, contact us and we will send you a list of other specialists in your neighborhood.
Once you select an agent you will want to establish a proper business relationship. You likely know that some agents represent sellers while others represent buyers. Each agent should explain the options available, describe how he or she typically works with individuals and provide you with complete agency disclosures (the ins and outs of your relationship with the agent) as required in New York. Once hired for the job, the agent will provide you with information detailing current market conditions, financing options and negotiating issues that might apply to a given situation.
Remember: Because market conditions can change and the strategies that apply in one negotiation may be inappropriate in another, this information should not be set in stone. Your agent will keep you updated and alert you to each step in the transaction process.
Elements of a Board Package
A major aspect of purchasing a co-op apartment is completing a purchase application and assembling financial documents and references, which together are commonly referred to as “The Board Package.” First time co-op buyers are often shocked by the amount of confidential material required by boards. Just be assured that the information is kept confidential.
The primary purpose of the Board Package is to assure the corporation of your financial ability to carry the apartment (boards are tougher than banks) and to give them confidence that you will be a “cooperative” shareholder and a welcomed member of their community.
Each co-op has its own set of requirements which we will obtain for you from the building’s managing agent.
Our two main recommendations are these:
Read the instructions on the cover page carefully and plan to provide ALL of the information requested.
Be sure your application, references and supporting documents are neat and clear.
The most common elements of a Board Package are:
Purchase Application – Should be typed. Fill in all the blanks and answer all questions: name, address, social security number, name of attorney, schools attended, etc.
Credit Release Form – Your permission for the managing agent to obtain a credit check on each applicant. Sign it.
Contract of Sale – A fully executed copy is acceptable.
Financial Statement – A blank form is usually provided in the package. Basically, a statement of all assets and liabilities AND supporting documents. It is VERY important that all sums on the statement reconcile with the attached supporting documents. For example, you cannot list a checking account balance as of January 1, and then include the February statement as backup. Every asset on the statement (except for personal property) needs documentation.
Reference Letters – A combination of personal and business references. We recommend that these letters be taken seriously. Please ask your friends and associates to be specific in their anecdotes and glowing in their comments. These letters are an opportunity for a Board to “get to know you.” They also provide subjects for the interview discussion.
Tax Returns – Many co-ops require your last one or two most recent tax returns.
Landlord References – Verifying your past prompt payment of rent or maintenance charges.
A few weeks after the completed Board Package has been submitted to the managing agent, you will be called for an interview. If your schedule has unusual constraints that would limit your availability for meeting with the board, we will indicate this in your cover letter to the board package.
All sellers with homes built prior to 1978 are required to fill out a lead-based paint disclosure form and provide you, the buyer, with a lead-based paint educational booklet.. Lead is a highly toxic metal that was used for many years in products found in and around our homes.
Lead may cause a range of health effects, from behavioral problems and learning disabilities, to seizures and death. Children six years old and under are most at risk, because their bodies are growing quickly.
Bear in mind, there are millions of homes with lead paint out there, which have been painted and repainted many times since 1978. As a result, the lead paint essentially buried. If you are worried you can have the paint tested and evaluated either at a local laboratory, or with one of the home test kits available at your local hardware store.
When purchasing a townhouse or a condo, you will need to acquire homeowners insurance. If you are purchasing a coop, then apartment insurance may be sufficient. Most lenders will require a policy be in effect prior to funding the loan. Make sure you have ample coverage, should anything happen. Policies refer to “replacement costs” that may not cover all of yourpersonal property.
You should ask your insurance agent a lot of “what if” questions. Also, consider how much of a deductible you are comfortable with. Higher deductibles reduce your monthly premium.
Check with your insurance agent for more information on these issues. If you don’t have an insurance agent, we have access to several top-notch agents we can refer you to with confidence.