First Time Buyer in NYC: Steps to Purchasing a NYC Apartment

Real Estate Agent with Douglas Elliman Real Estate

Steps to Purchasing an Apartment

The steps to purchasing a co-op or a condominium in Manhattan are very similar.

To give you some idea of the timeframe, Let us assume that you have found the property on which you wish to place an offer and that you have spoken to a bank or mortgage broker (if financing) to determine a comfortable financing price level.

  1. Offers are made orally or through emails in New York City. When you have found the right property, a bid or offer will be placed through your agent. They will convey your offer to either the seller's agent or to the seller directly.
  2. The seller may "counter" your offer. This will begin a negotiation process that will eventually lead to a "meeting of the minds," at which point price, terms, and closing date have been agreed upon.
  3. A real estate attorney is required in all property transactions in New York City. Contact an attorney familiar with real estate in Manhattan to represent you. The seller's attorney will begin preparation of a contract of sale, and during that time your attorney will begin to examine the financial condition of the building in which you wish to purchase. Your real estate agent can assist you in finding experienced attorneys.
  4. After your lawyer concludes that the financial condition is satisfactory, that the by-laws of the building are acceptable to you, and that the contract of sale is also acceptable, your attorney will allow you to sign the contract. At that time you will usually be required to present a deposit of 10% of the purchase price. The contract plus the deposit will then be forwarded to the seller for signature . This money will be held in the seller's attorney's escrow account until closing. It is important to note that until all parties have signed the contract, and it has been delivered, the seller can still entertain and accept other offers.
  5. If financing, you should move forward with your loan application. We as your real estate agent can assist you in finding a mortgage broker . It is advised that you pre-qualify for a mortgage with a brokerage firm prior to beginning your housing search.
  6. You will, by now, have received from us the board requirements and application materials. The application materials can be similar for a cooperative and condominium. However, the actual process is quite different. You will need to complete all of the required materials which typically include: an application, a financial statement signed by a CPA, all requisite support for your financial statement, three years of tax returns, bank statements, letters of personal and financial reference, letters of professional reference, the contract of sale, bank documents (if financing) indicating that your loan is in place, etc.
  7. When your "package" is finished, it will be reviewed by a company Manager, and then, assuming it is complete, it will be forwarded to the managing agent for review. Upon determination that it is in order and that credit checks were acceptable, it will be forwarded to the Board of Directors. No applications will be accepted by a Managing Agent unless they are complete.
  8. In the case of a cooperative, if your application meets initial approval, you will be invited to be interviewed by the Board or by an interviewing committee. This is a serious matter and not to be taken lightly. It should be treated as a business meeting.
  9. After approval by the Board, you are ready to begin planning for a closing!

In the case of a condominium, there is generally no formal interview. Your application will be reviewed, and if all required materials are included and in order, an approval is typically granted.
The entire process can move quickly in a condominium, and assuming a loan can be secured in a timely fashion, one can move from contract to closing in about 60 days. However, the cooperative process is more involved, and 60 to 90 plus days is not unusual.

To Read More About Manhattan Market and Purchasing Steps, please click links below

Manhattan Buildings (Condo, Co-Op, Townhouse)

Buying Power in Manhattan

Financial Report of Each Manhattan Building

Let us be your resource to Manhattan Real Estate Market. Call us or Email us for an intelligent and private conversation...! (212)321-7122 or (917)837-8869.


Posted by



Eileen Hsu 許雅嵐 (email: EHSU(@)

Our team specialize in Manhattan New York Condominiums, townhouses, and condops.

We are condominium residents ourselves so we understand the Manhattan New York condominium community. We also enjoy all Manhattan neighborhoods, especially Upper West Side, Lincoln Square, Midtown East, Murray Hill, Financial District, Chelsea, Fifth Avenue, Greenwich Village, Nolita and etc just to name a few. If you or you know someone that may be interested in selling, buying or leasing their Manhattan New York condo, call us today (917)837-8869 or (646)644-6929 and we can discuss your specific Real Estate goals.

Manhattan New York Condo Specialists or Chinese Speaking Real Estate Agent



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Barbara Delaney
Park Place REALTORS, Inc. - Roanoke, VA

Dear Eileen,

Thanks for the explanation of the process. What a different world!

Let say another buyer wants to throw their hat in the ring. When would the first buyer know that he has a binding contract and is first in line?

I would assume that would be after all parties have accepted the attorney written contract. Is that true?




Dec 18, 2008 06:29 AM #1
Eileen Hsu
Douglas Elliman Real Estate - Manhattan, NY

Dear Barbara:

Nothing is bind here until both buyer and seller have signed that piece of contract. This can take anywhere from 2 days to (insert any number) of days. If the contract is out to the first set of buyers (in NYC, sellers' attorney draws up the contract and send to the buyers' attorney once there is a mutual accepted price). And until the seller signs the contract that comes back from first set of buyers' attorney, any offer can happen and the seller is NOT obligated to the first set of buyers... :)

This happens a lot when the market is very hot, and sellers often gets greedy...

We don't advise this behavior, but Sellers attorney can send out multiple sets of contracts with different price to different buyers until the contract is SIGNED, no one is bind.


Dec 18, 2008 06:54 AM #2
Morgan Evans
Douglas Elliman Real Estate - Manhattan, NY

Buying real estate in New York City is very different than other parts of the country.  People relocating to NYC or buying for the first time who don't know what it is like need to educate themselves and read blogs like yours.

Dec 26, 2008 05:57 AM #3
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