Buyer Tips--What You Need to Know Before Signing on the Dotted Line

Real Estate Agent with Keller Williams NYC

You’ve found the perfect Manhattan apartment and you’re ready to make an offer.  Below are a few things you’ll need to do in order to make the buying process less stressful and more successful!

  • Determine a budget and get pre-qualified.  Your agent can provide you with a list of lenders to choose from; however, it may also a good idea to shop around yourself for the best rates and terms.  Your lender will determine what type of loan is best for you and what rate you’ll qualify for.  He/she will advise you of what you’ll need to provide for pre-approval (documents supporting your credit-worthiness).  Rates are still low--30 year fixed are around 4-5%; 15-year are about 4.3% and ARMs (adjusted rate mortgages) are popular again.  A 5/1 and 7/1 ARM offer low, attractive rates which are fixed for the first five and seven years and adjust yearly after that, at a capped rate, toward the maximum.  According to a recent New York Times article, “. . .ARMS now account for 10 percent of home loans.”
  • Typically, Manhattan condo apartments require 10% down and co-ops, 25%.  However, 20% down is more common these days for condos due to tougher financing conditions.  There are unique situations in every transaction, so check with your agent--there could be circumstances where you’ll need more or less.  If you’re paying cash, the process is accelerated.  We’ve had cash buyers that have closed within one week of signing a contract!
  • Mortgage Title Insurance.  These costs are typically $500.00 per every $100,000 and it’s insurance that the property you’re buying is free and clear.  Your agent will go over this aspect of the process with you.
  • Other fees associated with buying are mortgage bank fees; application credit and appraisal; bank attorney; NY State mortgage taxes; recording fees; managing agent fees; lien search fees; and closing adjustments which can include one month and real estate taxes for one to three months.  These costs can vary upon your own unique circumstances.  

Note:  If the unit you purchase is over $1M, you’ll have to pay a Mansion Tax in the form of 1% of the purchase price.  Keep in mind that if you purchase a new development property, you may be required to pay the city and state transfer taxes (1.825% of the purchase price).  If the purchase price plus the transfer tax exceeds $999,999, you’ll have to pay that Mansion Tax.  The approximate cutoff price for a unit you purchase and pay transfer taxes for is $980,000.  Make sure you choose an agent that can explain what costs you can expect.

  • Before making your offer, make a list of what’s included in the purchase price.  Do you want the drapes or window treatments to convey?  What about that beautiful chandelier in the living room?  What about the items you don’t want--list those as well.  Are there repairs that need to be done?  If you and your agent are uncertain about the condition of the unit’s construction or appliances as well as the building’s major areas like boiler and roofing, you can employ the services of  a home inspector.  Home inspections typically aren’t needed for newer developments.  Make a list of everything you want to stay, what you want repaired, and what you want removed.   Include it all, in writing, when you make an offer.  
  • You and your agent will determine what to offer a buyer by looking at comparables, how long the property’s been on the market and how motivated the seller is.  Ultimately, it’s your decision on what the offer should be.  A good agent can advise you as to whether your offer is too low, how many other people may be looking at the property and what the chances are of your offer being accepted.
  • If your offer’s not accepted, and the seller is motivated, the seller will counter offer and you’ll go through a negotiation process.  If it’s accepted, you’ll need a real estate attorney.  You’ll want to choose an attorney that’s experienced in real estate; one that understands the intricacies associated with Manhattan real estate.  These fees can range from $1,500 and up.  You’ll want to hire a lawyer that charges a flat fee--not an hourly one.  Some buyers have their own attorneys, but most buyers seek assistance from their agents.  Your real estate attorney will assess the financials and work with the seller’s attorney to produce a contract that will be executed by you and the seller
  • Normally, the process for buying a condo, from initial offer to closing, is 45-60 days; with co-ops the process can take as long 60-90 days.  For co-ops, you’ll go through a board review process and an interview; condos don’t require board approval.  Your agent will go over all the paperwork, associated fees, and pertinent financial verifications.
  • Final walk-through.  This can be the week before or the day before you close.  You’ll be anxious to close and move-in, but make sure that everything you and the seller agreed upon has been done.  Inspect everything and check it off your list.  If something’s not been done, you can request to have the amount of money required to fix the problem withheld from the seller’s proceeds.

Although the process of buying may seem daunting, the realtor you choose is one of the most important pieces of the puzzle.  Choose one that has expertise in the Manhattan market and backed by a company with a stellar reputation.  Keller Williams New York City has a network of nearly 80,000 agents that can help make your dream a realty.


For more information about buying and selling in New York City, call me or any of our agents at 212-838-1956.  Email us at  





Browning, Lynnley. The New York Times. ARMs Redux. Mar 20, 2011.


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Ilan Bracha

KW NYC/The Bracha Group, Manhattan
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