Buyer's Guide

Every real estate market is unique. As a buyer, you are making a significant investment now and for your future. Working with an experienced licensed realtor will be a very helpful way to learn and navigate the particularities of the local market, as we will guide you in making the smartest investment that best matches your needs and dreams. The New York City market is particularly unique and can be challenging whether you are a first-time or an experienced buyer. At Anchor Associates, we know New York. It's our specialty. We speak this city's many languages, and we speak the most important one of all: the complicated language of this great city's real estate market. The Anchor Associate's Buyer's Guide is intended to help you learn the basics of that language-- co-ops, condos, and cond-ops, for instance and prepare yourself to use the language as you work with your Anchor Associates agent, attorneys and mortgage broker to approach the closing process. Like any new language, you might need translation. Please feel free to contact us if you have any other questions regarding this process.

Key Terms

Co-ops: This is one of the most important words for buyers interested in the NYC market, as this is the type of housing that dominates in the city. Understanding what a co-op is will help you determine whether this is the best search option for you. The co-op buyer does not buy his or her apartment, per square foot, but rather owns shares in the corporation that owns the apartment building. The corporation pays the building's mortgage and other expenses, including taxes and doormen and maintenance staff salaries. Typically, the owner, who has a long-term proprietary lease for his or her apartment, will pay a monthly "maintenance fee", which is calculated based on the number of shares owned; these, in turn, are determined by factors such as the size of one's apartment and the floor (higher vs. lower). The buying process is straightforward but quite distinct from buying other kinds of real estate. Each co-op has a board that is responsible for reviewing and either approving or declining a prospective buyer's application. This board is also responsible for making general decisions for the building shareholders such as subleasing rules and the smart prospective buyer will ask about the co-op rules up front, as well as the financial specifications for each property. The down payment required typically runs as high as 50% in the Manhattan co-op market, so buyers should keep this important fact in mind when deciding whether a co-op is right for them.

Condominiums (Condos): The process for buying a condo is somewhat similar to purchasing a co-op, but understanding the differences is key. Unlike the co-op, the buyer of a condo does own his or her apartment. As the owner, he or she is responsible for paying all property taxes. Like the co-op, he or she will also pay a monthly maintenance fee, referred to as common charges or CC, and will also be subject to an application approval process and conforming to building-specific rules that are set by the condo board. This being said, purchasing a NYC condo tends to offer greater flexibility, and has some attractive advantages for the buyer who plans to finance.

Cond-ops: This term is usually used to describe a co-op that operates under condominium rules. Most often this is important to the investor who is concerned about the strict rental rules in co-ops. A cond-op is an apartment in a mixed-use (commercial and residential building), where the ground floor is a commercial unit that is termed a "condo" and is held by an individual or by an investor group that is separate from the residential owners' group. The term "cond-op" is frequently misused, so be sure to ask how the term is being used when you hear it.

Preparing Yourself for Buying:

Knowing the steps of the New York City buying process will help you be more prepared and feel more comfortable with your purchase. These are the basic steps:

  1. Plan ahead! The NYC market moves fast and requires the buyer (as well as his or her support team of real estate agent, attorneys, and financers) to be prepared. Before you make your offer, have the following package ready, as it will be required at a later point in every buying transaction:
    • Financial statement of your net worth signed by a CPA
    • Support for the statement, including:
    • Tax returns from the past three years
    • Bank statements
    • Letters of personal, financial, and professional reference (verifying your employment, salary, and fiscal health)
    • Pre-approval paperwork (for loans, mortgaging, or other financing), if applicable. If you are planning to mortgage, visit our Mortgage Guide and pre-qualify yourself with a mortgage broker.
    Additionally, you may want to review your credit report and determine whether there are any outstanding debts to be cleared.
  2. Work with your Anchor Associates agent and determine what is most important to you in finding your new home. Spend the time discussing the different options and once you have reached a point of clarity around your requirements our agent will walk you through the exciting process of finding you new home. Mind you, finding the apartment you want is only half of the process.
  3. Make your offer. This will be presented by your agent to the seller or his or her representative. A seller may reply with a counter-offer; this will signal the beginning of a negotiation process.
  4. Once the negotiation process is complete, you will retain the services of a real estate attorney. Choose someone who knows the NYC market well. Your attorney will determine the financial profile of the building, will review the contract of sale, and will assist you with forwarding the down payment to the seller.
  5. At this point, you will complete the application for the co-op or condo and will send it along with your financial package, to the building's board. You may be called to interview in person with the board. Upon approval, you will begin the closing process. This will involve another inspection of the property with your real estate agent, final financial transactions, and your receipt of a title, deed, or stock certificate.

This may seem overwhelming, especially for the first-time buyer, but we are here and committed to helping you every step of the way. We will also assist you in identifying other professionals, like attorneys, mortgage brokers or even movers who will help you secure the NYC co-op, condo, or condop of your dreams!

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