Advice For Buyers

FAQ

Purchasing a home is exciting, but there’s a lot to consider. Take time to define your search parameters like price range, location preference, type of ownership (co-op, condo, etc.), size of property and building amenities, if applicable. Prioritize your needs (i.e., space, light, views, schools, etc.) but try to be flexible. In evaluating your budget, know what you can spend on a down payment as well as monthly expenditures like maintenance or common charges, real estate taxes, monthly mortgage, utilities, parking, etc. Find the right real estate agent to help you navigate through the process, speak with a mortgage lender to obtain written pre-approval for a loan, and choose an attorney experienced in NYC real estate.
Buying a home is not only an important financial decision but a major life decision as well. Nothing says more about who you are or how you live than where you live, so make sure that your real estate agent is someone who understands you and your needs. Begin by asking friends who’ve used agents for referrals. Choose a professional who specializes in homes in your price range and desired neighborhood(s), is available to work with your schedule, listens to your needs, asks a lot of questions about how you live, and takes the time to explain things you may not understand. Finding a new home should be an exciting and enjoyable process but it is also time-consuming. Look for someone whose company you enjoy – you will likely be spending a lot of time together.
Co-ops are owned by a corporation. When you buy a co-op, you’re buying shares that entitle you as a shareholder to a “proprietary lease” in a particular apartment. Shareholders pay a monthly maintenance fee to cover building expenses, including real estate taxes. Approval is granted by a board of directors, and all prospective buyers must submit a “board package”. The board will also require an interview.

A condominium is real property, and a purchaser is given a deed. Besides owning the apartment, you also own a small percentage of the building’s common elements like the halls, stairwells, etc. Each individual apartment gets a separate tax bill from the city. There is also a monthly common charge for building expenses. Financing and subletting terms can be more flexible in a condo than a co-op.
Yes! Getting your financing in place before you look for a home will save time and help ensure a smoother transaction. Meet with a mortgage broker to ask questions about the loan process and arrive at a comfortable price range. There are two levels of endorsement during this process: pre-qualification and pre-approval. Pre-qualification means you are potentially qualified for a stated loan amount, assuming full and accurate disclosure, while pre-approval is more appealing to a seller. To get pre-approved, you must provide your mortgage broker with information for a detailed background and financial check (including tax returns, credit check and income history). You’ll then get a letter from the lender stating the amount of your loan. This commitment is usually valid for about 60 days.
For many homebuyers, closing costs are a mystery. If you are purchasing, you need to be aware of these costs well in advance of the closing date. Typical closing costs associated with the purchase of a co-op, condominium or townhouse include but are not limited to: attorney fees (which vary); fees associated with your mortgage loan such as origination costs (0 – 3% value of loan), application, credit check, etc. ($500 and up), appraisal ($600 and up); move-in deposit ($500 and up, usually refundable if no damage); various taxes including mansion tax, insurance and other items, plus your remaining down payment. Condos and townhouses also require title insurance, title search and recording fees (approximately 0.5-0.8% of purchase price).

Buyers should consult their real estate attorney or financial advisor for specifics. Those buying in new development projects should pay particular attention to these numbers as you will likely be paying NY City and NY State transfer taxes (1.825% or more of the purchase price) as well as other seller fees and expenses like the cost of the seller’s attorney.

A complete list of closing costs can be found here.
Once you’ve started your search and are working with your agent to preview different properties, it’s important to be aware of the timeline of events that generally take place when you’ve found that perfect home. In most cases, once you decide to make an offer, it can take an average of 60 – 120 days to complete the closing process.

Prepare the Offer: 1 day

Negotiate the Offer & Acceptance: 2-5 days

Loan Application & Appraisal, Loan Approval and Commitment Letter, Sign

Contract/Escrow Deposit: 2-4 weeks

Co-op Board Package & Interview/Condo Application: 4-6 weeks

Bank & Attorney Prep Closing: 1-2 weeks

Final Walk Through: Day of Closing

Transaction Closing: 3 hours
Determine your budget for a down payment and the amount you are able to spend monthly. Consider monthly expenditures such as your mortgage, maintenance or common charges and real estate taxes, utilities, parking, etc.

Get pre-approved for a mortgage, look into your credit report, FICO score, type of mortgage, and shop for best rates and programs.

Identify your timeline for moving.

Find a real estate agent who specializes in New York City real estate.

Determine your needs and prioritize your wants: style of home, size, location, building amenities, condo, co-op or house.

Explore different neighborhoods to determine which ones suit your needs.

Evaluate access to transportation and commute time to work in selected neighborhoods.

Evaluate building amenities and house rules in terms of your needs (e.g., washer/dryer permitted, doorman, gym, pet policy, storage facilities, etc.).

Discuss with your agent how much to offer and leave room to negotiate. Your agent will be able to advise based on how long the property has been on the market, condition of home, other offers that have been presented, and how the asking price compares to similar, recently sold properties.

Let your agent prepare your offer and apply trained negotiating skills during the buying process. Your agent will advise you of any final negotiating factors that may benefit you in the purchase.

Once you have chosen an apartment, have both your agent and your attorney evaluate the building’s financial statements.

Once your offer is accepted, work closely with your agent to gather materials for your mortgage application and/or board package.

Find a local real estate attorney to prepare the purchase contract before you sign and represent you at the closing.

Before you move in, obtain homeowners insurance. Get quotes, compare and secure an insurance policy with appropriate coverage.
  1. First and most important is that unless the project has been built already and is ready for move-in, you should be flexible on your closing timeline. Construction always equals delays. Be prepared to wait 6 months and up to 12 months from the closing projections that you are given by the sales team. From fire alarm inspections, to Con Ed installing the gas meters, you are at the mercy of various city agencies and construction teams and, of course, those custom windows being shipped from Italy never arrive on time. The good news is that the finished product is usually pretty spectacular and worth the wait.

  2. Second, expect to pay slightly higher closing costs. It is customary in NYC new development purchases for buyers to be asked by the sponsor to pay NYC and NYS Real Property Transfer Taxes of 1.825%, the sponsor’s attorney fee (which varies but usually around $2750), a capital contribution to the new condominiums reserve fund of usually one or two months of common charges, and on occasion, a Residents Manager contribution to pay for the live-in super’s unit. Instead of your closing costs being 3 to 4% as they would in a normal resale purchase, you can add another 2% in a new development purchase. Fret not, all of this at the end of the day is negotiable.

  3. It’s never a bad idea to read the offering plan when purchasing a new home. In the case of a new development that is not yet completed, it is pretty much mandatory that you and your seasoned new development attorney read the offering plan. The offering plan is your projection as a consumer and it has been submitted to the Attorney-General and approved by them stating what the developer is expected to deliver. Anything significant that varies will have to be approved by the AG in an amendment filed by the developer. The OP is essentially the buyer’s way to hold the developer accountable for their promises to build a world-class residence. It is crucial to read it because there is a wealth of information in there about the risks involved (see “Special Risks” section of the plan). Another section that is full of great information is the Architects’ or Engineers’ Report, which talks about everything from the materials used in the lobby, what model of air-conditioners will be installed to the color of paint in the common areas. You will be given a very complete and detailed look at what the final product will look and feel like. As for the architect of record, Google them as well. See what other projects they have put their names on. Finally, read about the building’s retail space and what are the permissible uses under the plan. Can you resell your apartment immediately after closing? Or, are there restrictions built into the plan so that you are not competing with the developer’s unsold inventory?

  4. Look into the developer’s track record for success. What other projects have they done? What was the result like? How many projects have they done? What kind of financing do they have in place to ensure the project gets finished? Who is actually building the project? Don’t be afraid to ask and Google them. Some developers, like Extell, have such a long track record of success there is almost no risk. If you are purchasing in a project with a developer that is somewhat green, then ask for an outside closing date in your contract whereby if the project gets delayed past a certain point, you can just walk away and get your money back.

  5. Work with a broker on the buy-side who has done a significant number of new development deals. They will help educate you, and alert you to pitfalls or opportunities along the way. When it comes time to negotiate the best possible price, having a broker on your side that has completed deals in the building or with that developer is always a plus. They will help you understand what inventory is left that remains unsold and not listed, and what that means in terms of you getting a discount and will be your advocate in the process. Most importantly, if you are trying to decide between two units in the same building, having an outside broker who is experienced in new development and resales on your side will be worth their weight in gold when it comes to identifying which unit will be easier to sell down the road.

Thinking about Purchasing? Let us put together your dream team.

Are you serious about buying a home? You should have a team of professionals on your side: a seasoned real estate agent, a mortgage professional, and a top real estate attorney, all working together to achieve your goal of finding the perfect home.

There is no reason to approach this process alone. With a team behind you, everyone will be working together with your best interest in mind. At the end of the day a team is always better than one.
It’s never just a house, an apartment or a neighborhood. It’s more than hardwood floors and pre-war details. It’s where you come to life and are inspired. It’s the first and best expression of who you are as an individual, as a couple, or as a family. We never forget what a home represents to our clients.

Susanne Columbia and Todd Vitolo are full-service NYC real estate brokers who handle a wide range of residential real estate transactions, including the purchase of co-ops, condos, townhouses, and new developments.

Whether you’re looking to buy a penthouse on Central Park West, a townhouse in the West Village, or a loft in Soho, or just need some solid real estate advice Susanne and Todd know every niche of the Manhattan and Brooklyn market and are happy to serve you.

From recommending the best attorneys, providing referrals for architects, lawyers, engineers, and contractors, we will put together a team of proven players all working together under our management with one goal in mind…YOU. We are always working with you and for you.

What Is A Buyer's Agent

Your home is your biggest asset, and so much more. This is a process that’s not only about dollars and cents, its about loving where you live.

How We Work Together

An agent is bound by State Law to disclose and declare their Agency when having substantive conversations with potential buyers.

Information For International Buyers

New York is a city unlike any other and no real estate firm knows New York as Compass does. We can share our expertise to help you find the right property for who you are and how you live.

What Is A Buyer's Agent

Your home is your biggest asset, and so much more. This is a process that’s not only about dollars and cents, its about loving where you live.

How We Work Together

An agent is bound by State Law to disclose and declare their Agency when having substantive conversations with potential buyers.

Information For International Buyers

New York is a city unlike any other and no real estate firm knows New York as Compass does. We can share our expertise to help you find the right property for who you are and how you live.

The Columbia Vitolo Team Promise

Our Promise – As a buyer, searching for a home is hard work. Sometimes it can feel frustrating, or exciting, and every emotion in between.

Closing Costs

We have two goals: to find you the home of your dreams, and to have you walk away from the experience with a smile.

Get In Touch

Learn more about what to expect in terms of closing costs for your purchase or sale. information you’ll need during your journey to finding a new place to call home.

The Columbia Vitolo Team Promise

Our Promise – As a buyer, searching for a home is hard work. Sometimes it can feel frustrating, or exciting, and every emotion in between.

Closing Costs

We have two goals: to find you the home of your dreams, and to have you walk away from the experience with a smile.

Get In Touch

Learn more about what to expect in terms of closing costs for your purchase or sale. information you’ll need during your journey to finding a new place to call home.

Contact Us For More Information

The Columbia Vitolo Team is ready to put our experience to work for you. Please contact us through any of the listed channels below and we will respond to you as soon as possible.