5 Things You Need to Know Before Buying a Home in NYC

Two brokers offer advice on how to find your ideal home in a highly competitive market.

Photo courtesy of Ideal Properties Group Buyers must stay on their toes in today's hot NYC market, where homes like this Prospect Heights brownstone have been selling in less than a week.

As we mentioned last month, the real estate market in New York City is hot — with many homes selling mere days after hitting the market. For sellers, this is great news. For buyers, less so. Low inventory means there are more potential buyers per available home — which means you'll have competition as you start your hunt.

We asked two brokers for some tips on how to navigate such a competitive buyer's market. After reading our tips, check out our sampling of homes that are currently for sale, from West Chelsea to Red Hook in Brooklyn.

1. Preparation is essential
"You have to be prepared to move on the home you love the moment you've seen it," says Aleksandra Scepanovic, managing director of Ideal Properties Group. "And when I say prepared I mean that you should already have your lender picked out, and you should already be pre-approved for a loan. Know the attorney whose services you'll be retaining for the transaction so you could have them assist you with negotiations the moment they start. Know which home inspector you'll be using. Having all your ducks in a row will give you an assertive advantage over your many competitors." Melanie Lazenby of Douglas Elliman adds that you should "check for new listings daily, as they may not be on the market for even a week."

2. Bargains are rare….
"Bargains in the Big Apple are extremely far and few between, and amid much movement in the heated real estate market that we're currently in, the best scenario one could hope for is to achieve a fair price relative to the marketplace," says Scepanovic. "The best scenario also hopefully excludes you being party to a bidding war, as wars can be won, but always at a cost."

3. … but there are always up-and-coming neighborhoods
" Blue chip areas such as the Upper East Side, the Upper West Side, Tribeca, SoHo, Greenwich Village, Midtown and Flatiron are always great investments as there is constant demand for apartments in those areas," says Lazenby. "However, some strong up-and-coming areas are NoMad and West Chelsea, which are already setting pricing records. For great value, try less well-known but centrally located areas such as Murray Hill or Clinton, which are both somewhat undervalued. Or go farther afield and check out Red Hook in Brooklyn, which is charming, water-front and bustling with new restaurants and markets."

4. Playing hard-to-get will probably backfire
"If you have found the home you really want, you cannot play hard to get," says Scepanovic. "In all probability, the seller will quickly move on to the next offer in line. There is just not enough housing stock on the market to meet the current buyer demand."

5. Beware empty lots
"Be wary of any empty, undeveloped lots close to your new home," says Scepanovic. "The robust real estate market entails a high level of certainty they won't stay empty for long. Nothing will as effectively ruin your enjoyment of your new home as the sounds of piles being driven into the ground, or jackhammers going at all hours."

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