Relocation Guide: Time Line For Purchasing A Manhattan Home

Real Estate Agent


Time Line Guide For Purchasing

1. Mortgage Pre-Approval:

Typical Time frame: 30 minutes - 2 hours
You must know how much you can spend before you spend it. Condominium apartments require at least 10% down; cooperatives generally require at least 25% down. However, every building is different. Go to this web site to get pre-approved and start the mortgage process.

2. Find an apartment:

Typical Time frame: 3 - 6 months before closing.
Depending on what you are looking for, the length of your search will vary. The average person sees 10 - 25 apartments before deciding on one. Viewing apartments on-line can save you time and headaches by eliminating those you don't like. The first apartments you see are often the best, so try to be alert and ready.

3. Negotiations:

Typical Time frame: 1 hour to 2 weeks
Step One: Make an OFFER. Everything is negotiable so inquire about assessments, fixtures, window replacements, air conditioners, rugs, floors, curtains, appliances, working fireplaces, washers, dryers, etc. Apartments are delivered "swept clean".

4. Sign a Contract:

Typical Time frame: 1 - 3 weeks
Typically in a sales transaction, a New York City real estate attorney represents each buyer and seller. The seller's attorney draws up the contract for the buyer's attorney review; the buyer's attorney does "due diligence", reading condo or co-op minutes, financial statements, etc. The buyers sign the contract and forward the contract with a 10% deposit; the sellers execute the contract. Possible contingencies: Financing, Board Approval, closing dates. The quicker the contract can be signed, the better. A contract is binding only after all parties have signed.

5. Apply for and get a mortgage:

Typical time frame: 24 hours to - 4 weeks
Receive commitment letter from lender. Mortgage applications cannot be processed without an executed contract. If an apartment is being financed, the board requires a commitment letter from a lender. These letters are generally the last items to complete a board package/condo application.

6. Complete a Board Package or Condominium Application:

Typical time frame: 1 - 3 weeks
Cooperative apartment buildings require board approval before a closing can take place. Condominiums require an information package to be completed before a closing can take place. In order to review a potential purchaser, the Board of Directors for a co-op demands extensive information in a Board Package. Most boards request the following information: financial disclosure (net worth) with supporting documentation, employment history, professional and personal reference letters, tax returns, etc. If a purchaser cannot or does not want to supply this information, he/she should buy a condominium. Board packages/Condo applications are given to potential buyers to fill out after a contract has been executed. If there is no financing, it usually takes about 2 - 3 weeks to gather the information for the board condominium application.

7. Submit Board Package or Condo Application for the managing agent's review:

Typical time frame: 1 - 4 weeks
Once completed, multiple copies (6-10 copies) are forwarded to the managing agent who makes sure all required information has been included. The "package" is then submitted to the co-op Board. The Board will then decide to interview (or reject) the applicant based on the "package."

8. Meet the Co-op Board for an Interview:

Typical time frame: 30 minutes - 1 hour
Co-op boards typically meet once a month, and some Boards do not meet in August. Every Board is different, but generally, a Board Meeting will be held in the evening on a weeknight. Although a board interview may be granted, this does not guarantee board approval. Although we present interview dates that are most convenient for you, board interviews tend to be "command performances" at the board's discretion.

9. Receive Approval from Board:

Typical time frame: 1 day - 1 week after board interview
The managing agent will generally alert the seller's broker when a potential buyer has passed the board.

10 Schedule a Closing:

Typical time frame: 1 - 2 weeks after board approval
Managing agents generally set the date for closings, and lawyers for sellers and buyers coordinate with the appropriate banks on available dates and times.

11. Closing: Bring your checkbook

Manhattan Relocation Package:

Neighborhood Relocation Guides:

Courtesy of:

©Mitchell Hall 2006-2008

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Comments (11)

James and Denise Francois
HomeSnipe Real Estate, LLC - Allentown, PA
New York is quite different from PA and some people do not realize it.
Feb 17, 2008 09:46 AM
Heather the Realtor Orlando, Lake Mary
LemonTree Realty - Orlando, FL
First Time Home Buyers, Bank Owned Homes
Great blog. My boyfriend and I have tossed around moving to NYC. All I know is I would probably need a career change if I moved up there. :)
Feb 17, 2008 09:48 AM
Andrew Mooers | 207.532.6573
Northern Maine Real Estate-Aroostook County Broker
Hey Mitchell..isn't the first requirement to have some coin and good credit and not too much in the way of debt so debt ratios are healthy?  Good post! My oldest daughter graduated from Columbia...way way different surroundings then Houlton Maine!
Feb 17, 2008 09:48 AM
Lenn Harley
Lenn Harley,, MD & VA Homes and Real Estate - Leesburg, VA
Real Estate Broker - Virginia & Maryland

Very nice Mitchell, as always.

One thing I've never seen posted is the cost of closing for a typical transfer in MYC.  Is there a typical % for closing costs?

Feb 17, 2008 09:49 AM
Laurie Mindnich
Centennial, CO
Mitchell, your input with respect to a truly confounding purchase should be embraced by the NYC contingent.  I've always wondered about the board approval process- is it pretty low key?  Great NYC post, as always.
Feb 17, 2008 09:52 AM
Laura Cerrano
Feng Shui Manhattan Long Island - Locust Valley, NY
Certified Feng Shui Expert, Speaker & Researcher
Mitchell, You've got some absolutely gorgeous places to both rent and purchase!  I think I would love living in the City--goodness knows I already love it!  The condos sound a lot easier to purchase but I just spent about an hour on your website.  If I come across a client considering a move I would send them to you in a heartbeat.
Feb 17, 2008 10:11 AM
Adam Waldman
Westcott Group Real Estate Company - Hauppauge, NY
Realtor - Long Island
MITCH - Outstanding as usual!  This is a very comprehensive look at the home buying process in Manhattan, which in my opinion, is one of the most unique experiences in real estate.  Thanks for putting this together with so much thought.
Feb 17, 2008 10:18 AM
Mitchell J Hall
Manhattan, NY
Lic Associate RE Broker - Manhattan & Brooklyn

James and Denise, You're quick, I just finished typing. We're even different than most parts of New york

Heather, My broker is always recruiting. We just hired an agent from Florida Friday.

Andrew, Yes all of those things are very important and a good job.

Lenn, I have posted closing costs, I just searched and can't find it on activerain but here it is from my outside blog NYC closings costs for coops and condos. In new construction condo it can be about 5% of sale price because builders get buyers to pay transfer taxes which normally seller pays. It is much less in a coop because there is no mortgage recording tax. (coops are personal property rather than real property)

Laurie, The board approval process varies building to building. A building in Greenwich Village might be more liberal than a building on Park Avenue. Some buildings require an essay, some buildings want to meet the dog and adult children who live out of state. The minimum I usually use to qualify a buyer is 25% debt to income ratio plus 2 years worth of maintenance or 1 years worth of mortgage payment and maintenance in liquid assets after the closing.

Feb 17, 2008 10:26 AM
Mitchell J Hall
Manhattan, NY
Lic Associate RE Broker - Manhattan & Brooklyn

Carole, Thank you. I just enjoyed reading your walking tour of NYC. Condos are easier to purchase but because of that fact and supply and demand condos are about 15% more than coops.

Adam, Thank you. I really appreciate your comments. Thank you for forming the Local Expert group.

Feb 17, 2008 10:38 AM
Carole Cohen
Howard Hanna Cleveland City Office - Cleveland, OH
Realtor, ePRO

I can't imagine moving to NYC without you as my broker/agent. Between you in NYC and Bonnie Erickson in MN, I get the best explanations of what really goes on in real estate. Wtg my Friend. 

Feb 17, 2008 11:00 AM
Mitchell J Hall
Manhattan, NY
Lic Associate RE Broker - Manhattan & Brooklyn
Carole, Thank you. I would be honored to have you as a client. You would be fun to work with. I already know you like historical buildings.
Feb 17, 2008 11:19 AM