Sales: Basics of Buying New York City Real Estate

Congratulations, you have made the decision to buy a home in one of the world's most exciting, historically rich and culturally diverse cities in the world! Home ownership in Manhattan, New York City comes complete with a backyard full of tantalizing restaurants and cultural landmarks. And that is on top of a dizzying array of entertainment, shopping and nightlife. Like the rest of life in the Big Apple, the NYC real estate market moves fast with a large variety of housing options to choose from at any one time. It is therefore important to be prepared prior to your home-buying adventure to ensure that you will obtain the home that will best fit your needs. As a buyer in a city of predominantly renters, your rewards are substantial. This includes the chance to build equity, have greater control over your living environment and may be eligible for tax benefits.

Preliminary Considerations

How much Manhattan real estate can I afford? This is an important question to ask before you've set your sights on a lovely Tribeca apartment only to find out you are a few dollars short of the down payment. A good way to calculate the amount you will realistically be able to afford is to use a mortgage calculator. Many first time buyers are surprised to find out that they can actually afford more than they initially thought. It is important to also become pre-qualified for a mortgage before beginning your Manhattan real estate search. This will make you a much more attractive home buying candidate during the process.

The right neighborhood. New York City is a dense and diverse universe of its own. In the space of 10 blocks, one can enjoy an authentic Dim Sum lunch to a dessert of the finest Italian Tiramisu. With so much cultural diversity, it is important to consider which area of the city is going to best suit your lifestyle. To see an overview of the various New York neighborhoods please visit our Manhattan Neighborhoods section to find the best Manhattan real estate.

The right NYC apartment. New York City offers some of the most interesting and diverse apartment space constructs in the nation. Carefully consider the size of the apartment (number of bedrooms, size of kitchen, etc.) and layout that will be most comfortable for the needs of you and your family. Other considerations include how important a great view is, and if office space is necessary before setting out on your New York City real estate search.

Buying Options

Condominium or Cooperative? Condos and cooperatives both have their sets of pros and cons that should be carefully assessed when you are deciding on the right Manhattan real estate for you.

Cooperatives are the most common buying option in New York City today, due in large part to their high prevalence. Cooperatives offer buyers a type of corporate ownership of the property. They own a certain percentage of the property via a proprietary lease. The value of the property unit is determined based on the number of shares given to that particular space as well as location of the building and services offered. The shareholders are governed by a Board of Directors who make decisions in regards to maintenance fees, building policy and leasing regulations.


  • Greater availability
  • Lower initial purchase price
  • Greater control of your living space (e.g., who your neighbors are, and rules for your building's residents)
  • Prewar style, thicker walls, ornate structure, bigger inside dimensions and overall charm
  • Lease Restrictions (helps control the transiency of sub-tenants)


  • Stringent coop boards (making admission an arduous process)
  • Higher monthly fees (maintenance)
  • Restrictions on subleasing


  • Easy approval process
  • Greater flexibility in financing options
  • Greater freedom in leasing Manhattan Real Estate
  • Lower maintenance costs
  • No time consuming purchasing delays on account of coop boards


  • Higher purchasing price
  • Greater legal responsibility for the overall premises

Using a Manhattan Real Estate Broker

On account of the vast selection of Manhattan apartments for sale, the complexities of the buying process and fast turnover in the market, it is essential to the success of your home search to have a relationship with a broker whom you can trust. Navigating the NYC market is quite a challenge on your own and it is recommended that you find one broker who will be dedicated to acting in your best interest. Brokers live in real estate world 24-7; they are equipped with the right tools and connections to help match your needs with this fast-paced market.

Buying List of Do's and Don'ts

  • DO be serious in your home-buying search. Be prepared before you begin your search, and prepared to follow through on the sale once it has been initiated.
  • DON'T work with multiple brokers. No broker will be 100% committed to helping you in your search if you are also using other brokers. Find a broker with whom you are comfortable and who you trust.
  • DON'T get stuck on one apartment. The New York City real estate market is fluid and fast moving, other apartments that will equally meet your needs will come up even if your dream pick does not work out.
  • DON'T focus on money as the only factor in your Manhattan Apartment search. A 'great deal' financially could cause you a loss in terms of convenience and/or quality of life.