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New York City
Home Buyers Guide

The decision to purchase a home is one of the most significant decisions of one's life, with many options and details to consider. Whether you're buying solely for yourself or for your family, as a first-time buyer or as a veteran home owner, MNS can help you simplify these choices in order to make your housing search as uncomplicated and anxiety-free as possible.

MNS wants to teach you how to buy right. Let us educate you on the home buying process and answer any questions you may have. We want our clients to be able to buy with no uncertainties and to know that we are behind them in every step of this very important investment.

What MNS Can Do For You

As you begin looking for your new home, you must first think about your wants and needs, which we will then discuss as we find properties that suit your lifestyle. Once we've established what your priorities are, we will research all available properties that fit your criteria including, but not limited to, those that are listed on MNS's own website and database, new constructions, exclusive properties of other brokers and those that are for sale by owner. We have access to every listing within the entire brokerage community, which we will gladly show you as we help you conduct your search. We will leave no stone unturned; if it's out there, we have access to it.

Once we've narrowed down your options to the properties that appeal to you most, we will schedule appointments to view them and accompany you on all property showings. Prior to you making an offer to purchase, we will also provide you with pertinent market information that will help you make an educated decision.

If you're a first-time buyer, one of MNS's many skilled agents will explain New York's real estate procedures to you and assist you in selecting and acquiring the services of any professionals you may need (e.g., banker, attorney, appraiser, architect, engineer, etc.). He or she can also assess the investment value of a potential purchase and determine whether or not it's worth pursuing.

When you've chosen a property as your future home, we will aid you in preparing and presenting your purchase offer terms and all other necessary documents that may deem you a more qualified buyer than others in the eyes of the seller. MNS will draft and present a written offer to the seller or seller's agent, and the seller's attorney will subsequently prepare a sales contract in which price and other relevant negotiable terms are established. We will prepare and help you to assemble a board package that will be presented to the board of directors for review prior to an interview in the case of a co-op. Upon approval and before the closing, we will schedule a walk-through appointment during which we will ensure that all required repairs have been made in accordance with the contract, that the property has been properly maintained and that all items promised in the contract (such as appliances) are present.

The closing itself is the formal process by which ownership passes from the seller to the buyer. Here you will sign tax documents, applicable loan forms and, in the case of a co-op, a stock certificate and proprietary lease. If you're purchasing a condominium, you will sign a deed instead of a stock certificate and, in both cases, you will receive the keys to your new home!

  • Speak to a mortgage broker, bank or financial advisor. Know what your budget is before you even begin your search. Financial requirements vary from building to building, so keep that in mind. 1 - 2 days
  • Find an apartment. 1 day - 3 months
  • Negotiate on the apartment. 3 days - 2 weeks
  • Sign a contract. Both the buyer and seller are represented by real estate attorneys. The seller's attorney draws up the contract for the buyer's attorney and, upon receipt, the buyer's attorney performs “due diligence” (e.g., reading minutes, reviewing financial statements of the building, etc.). Once all terms are agreed upon, the buyer signs the contract and returns it to the seller's attorney with a 10% deposit, after which the seller executes the contract. Possible contingencies may include financing, board approval and closing dates. 3 days - 2 weeks
  • Apply for a mortgage and receive a commitment letter from your lender. Mortgage applications cannot be processed without a fully executed contract, and if an apartment is being financed, the board requires a commitment letter from the lender. 3 - 6 weeks
  • Complete your board package or condo application. Your real estate agent will ensure that your board package is thorough and completed in a timely manner. 1 - 2 weeks
  • Submit a board package or condo application to the managing agent. Once the board package is complete, it is given to the building's managing agent. The package is then forwarded to the Board of Directors, who decides whether or not an interview will be granted. 4 - 6 weeks
  • Meet with the co-op board for an interview. Every co-op board is unique to its building, but they typically meet once a month on a weekday evening, though some may not meet in August. 30 minutes - 1 hour
  • Receive approval from the board. The managing agent will let the seller's agent know whether or not you've been approved by the board. 1 day - 1 week after the interview
  • Schedule a closing. The managing agent sets the closing date, and the buyer's and seller's attorneys then coordinate with the appropriate banks for available dates and times. 1 - 2 weeks after board approval

A Buyer's Guide to Board Package Preparation

One of the most important aspects of purchasing a co-op apartment is completing a purchase application and assembling a board package—a comprehensive presentation of financial documents and references. The primary purpose of the board package is to assure the corporation of your financial ability to support the apartment and to give them confidence that you will be a “cooperative” shareholder and welcomed member of their community.

Each co-op has its own set of requirements and application forms, which we will obtain for you from the managing agent of the building. The most common elements are the following:

Purchase Application: This should be typed. Fill in all blanks and answer all questions (even with, if necessary, “not applicable”).

Credit Release Form: This allows the managing agent to obtain a credit check for each applicant.

Financial Statement: This is a statement of all assets and liabilities and supporting documents. It is very important that the sums on the statement reconcile with the attached supporting documents. Every item on the statement (except personal property) must be documented. Don't forget to add earnest money (deposit on contract) in the asset column.

Reference Letters: A combination of personal and business reference letters are needed. These letters give the board an opportunity to know you. Have your friends and associates write wonderful things about you-but do ask them to include some basics: How long have they known you? In what capacity did you meet? Why do they think you will make a great neighbor? If they live in a co-op or have served on the board at their building, it is a good thing to mention. Letters should be addressed to the Board of Directors, on letterhead and with their contact information.

Tax Returns: Most co-ops require two years' worth of tax returns including all schedules and W-2 forms.

Landlord Reference: This verifies your prompt payment of rental or maintenance charges.

Bank Reference Letter: Just ask a banker at your local branch. They do this all the time and will know what you are talking about.

After you've gathered together all your documents, we will have them copied and submitted to the managing agent for you. As a rule, if you are applying for a mortgage, managing agents do not accept any papers without a written commitment letter from the bank.

Condos and Co-ops and the Differences Between Them

Owning a condo is like owning a house; that particular piece of real estate is exclusively yours and you receive a deed to the property, which is considered “real property”. Co-op owners, on the other hand, own shares of stock in the corporation that owns the building and they receive proprietary leases for their apartments.

Both condos and co-ops require board approval, though a condo board has a less rigorous approval process and will rarely turn potential buyers down. However, the condo board does have the first right of refusal, which enables the condominium to protect itself from deflated values and prices resulting from unusually low sales in the building. If the board feels your price and terms aren't favorable, it may take over as purchaser in your sales contract, thereby cancelling your purchase. The co-op board also has the ability to determine how much of the purchase price may be financed, as well as minimum cash requirements.

All prospective purchasers must interview with the co-op board. Prior to the interview, you will have to present your financial situation with supporting documentation. The following is a partial list; further details are available from your agent. Co-ops generally require a purchase application, financial statements, letters of personal reference, financial letters of reference, a letter from your current landlord, an employment verification letter, business letters of reference, copies of your tax returns from the last few years, a credit search, lead paint disclosure and financing information.

Subletting a co-op can be difficult; each co-op has its own rules, which should be reviewed carefully before application to purchase. Condo buildings in New York, however, despite having recently tightened their sublet policies, allow you to rent out your home at any time, though many condos now require the subletter to fill out a complete application disclosing financial and credit information in order to rent from an owner in the building. There are sometimes also minimum lease terms (i.e., six months to a year).

Tools

  • Determine if it's better to rent or to buy by filling in a few numbers and percentages.

  • Check out samples of leases and riders you will find throughout the Manhattan rental market.

  • A list of maps and transit options available in New York City and beyond.

  • Print out our moving checklist so you can be sure to have all your ducks in a row before you move.

  • Know the pertinent steps to buying an apartment in Manhattan. The guidance you receive can make or break your deal. Know before you go.

  • We know real estate terms and abbreviations can get confusing, so we’ve put together a list of terms and definitions for you.