A Buyer's Guide to NYC

Purchasing a home is surely one of the most important decisions you will make in your life. Purchasing a home or an investment can be a very hectic experience, especially in New York City, one of the most competitive real estate markets in the world. There are many different factors to consider when deciding which home to buy, which often leads to confusion and frustration.

Hiring a real estate agent to work with you to find the most ideal home for you will greatly ease the process on you and your family, and can result in saving you a lot of time and money. The right broker will be able to keep you informed about current market trends, assist you in making well-informed decisions about your purchase, keep your needs in consideration during the process, as well as help you to connect with any professional you may need, such as financing, remodeling, legal assistance, and more.

Step-by-step Process:

  1. Make a Wish List:

    Make a list of your requirements as well as your preferences. Ranking them in order of need or preference will help your Hecht Group agent find properties within your price range that match your criteria.

  2. Prequalify for a Mortgage:

    If you are not an all cash buyer, it is important that you obtain a prequalification letter from the financial institution of your choice. Your Hecht Group agent can assist you with this as well as recommend a financial institution. It is a free and easy service that we recommend you take advantage of, as offers from prequalified buyers are taken more seriously than offers from buyers without prequalification. This will also help you to determine your comfortable “purchasing power” which will show you what your comfortable purchase price is and what monthly payments you can expect and afford.

  3. View Properties:

    Your Hecht Group agent will search for properties that match your criteria. Once properties matching your criteria are found, your Hecht Group agent will schedule viewings of these properties to learn closely about your likes and dislikes in order to choose through your preferences and the right home for you. Your agent can also view properties on your behalf, once he/she understands your preferences.

  4. Make an Offer:

    Once we have found the property that you intend to purchase, your Hecht Group agent will go over the details with you, before making a written offer on your behalf. The offer will be written in a letter that will include the offer price, the name of your New York state-certified attorney, as well as your income and financial qualifications to demonstrate your strength as a candidate.

  5. Prepare a Deal Sheet:

    Once negotiations are complete and the seller accepts your offer, your Hecht Group agent and the seller's agent will prepare a deal sheet. This document will provide the required information to both parties' attorneys and brokers, and contains the agreed-upon terms for the sales contracts.

  6. Execute the Contract of Sale:

    The seller's attorney will draft a contract of sale and provide it to your attorney for review. Once you sign it, it will be sent with a deposit check (usually 10% of the purchase price) to the seller's attorney. The deposit is held in escrow until the closing of sale. Once the seller signs the contract, it is considered to be fully executed and legally binding. This process could take up to 1 month, depending on how long it takes for both attorneys to review the offering plan and if financing is involved, as well as how long it takes for the building board members to review and approve the sale.

  7. Apply for a Mortgage:

    A mortgage application could take up to 2 months to complete, so it is vital to contact your financial institution immediately after the contract is signed. A fully executed contract must be included with the mortgage application.

  8. Prepare the Board Package and Board Interview (If Required):

    Your Hecht Group agent will help you prepare and submit your co-op or condominium board package. For co-op sales, you will most likely be interviewed by the Board of Directors and receive their decision within approximately 72 hours. Your attorney will coordinate the closing once the board has given approval.

  9. Inspect the Property:

    Your Hecht Group agent will accompany you on a walk-through to inspect the property prior to the closing of sale. The inspection is your opportunity to verify everything in the property (including appliances, fixtures, plumbing, and electricity, among others) is in working condition.

  10. Close the Sale:

    Closings are typically held with you, your attorney, your agent, the seller, the seller's attorney, and the seller's agent in attendance. Once the closing of the sale is complete, you will receive the keys to your new home. Congratulations!

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What is the difference between a co-op and a condo?

    A cooperative apartment (also known as a “co-op”) is an apartment that is sold as shares in a corporation. When you purchase a co-op you are actually buying shares in the corporation that owns the building. As the owner of shares in the building, you are issued a proprietary lease giving you the right to occupy the apartment. You also pay monthly maintenance fees for upkeep of common areas, staff salaries, and managing agent fees, as well as real estate taxes and interest on any underlying building mortgage. The tax deductibility of the monthly maintenance charges may vary depending on the co-op.

    A condominium (also known as a “condo”) is an apartment that is sold as property, just like a house. Just as if you purchasing a house, you will receive a deed to the property and pay property taxes to the city, which are tax deductible. You will also pay common charges to the board, which are not tax deductible. Subletting policies for condos are generally more lenient than for co-ops. Therefore, they are a better choice for investment properties. In addition, condos usually have a higher value than co-ops of similar size. However, condos come with extra costs for title insurance and mortgage recording taxes.

  2. Should I work with more than one agent at a time?

    Working with one agent saves you time and money, making the home-buying process easier and less stressful. In Manhattan, REBNY member brokers share all available listings. Hecht Group is currently a REBNY member in good standing.

  3. How long will it take to find my perfect home?

    Many first-time buyers find a home within a month or two. Your Hecht Group agent is knowledgeable, efficient, and can easily match your needs with the available inventory, expediting the process even further.

  4. What will I need for a Co-op board package?

    Generally, the following is required for a co-op board:

    • Your purchase application.
    • A financial statement with supplemental documents for verification.
    • Personal and financial reference letters.
    • A reference letter from your current landlord
    • A letter from your employer verifying employment.
    • Business letters of reference.
    • Your 2 most recent tax returns.
    • Permission to run a credit check
    • Payment of several different fees.

  5. Will I need an attorney?

    While we strongly recommend you hire an attorney for the process, it is not mandated by law that both the buyer and seller be represented by real estate attorneys licensed in the state of New York.

  6. When should I start looking for financing?

    You should contact a financial institution for mortgage prequalification as soon as you begin searching for property to purchase.

  7. How much money do I need to put down?

    For a condo, you will usually be asked for a deposit equal to 10% of the purchase price. Requirements vary for a co-op, but a minimum of 25% of the purchase price is typical. Keep in mind that some co-op buildings do not allow financing at all.

  8. How long will it to take from accepted offer to signed contracts?

    Usually the process takes up to two weeks. Your agent will be in constant communication with the parties to ensure progress and to handle any issues that may arise.

  9. Tips to Pass the Board Interview:

    • Show up on time. Arriving late does not make a good first impression.
    • Dress to impress! Treat the board interview the way you would treat a job interview.
    • Only answer questions that interviewer asks you. Do not volunteer any information.
    • Smile! Remember, your interviewer will be one of your future neighbors. Smiling shows you are a good neighbor.
    • Be polite! Express a positive attitude about the building. Keep any criticism to yourself.
    • Express any long term plans to stay in the apartment. Do not bring up any plans to sublet or vacate the apartment for an extended period of time.
    • Do not bring up any plans to renovate the apartment. Save any questions you have on renovations until after you are approved.
    • Talk about the stability of your career.
    • Do not imply that you will be coming into/out of the building late at night or that you will be hosting parties.
    • If you smoke, do not mention that you smoke.
    • Try not to ask too many questions.
    • Know your application. Go over your application several times.
    • Couples should decide in advance who will answer certain types of questions.
    • Be prepared for personal questions.