When I first started looking into seriously buying an apartment I scoured the internet like a mad person and read every single article and personal experience out there! Honestly the whole process seemed intimidating at first especially buying as a single woman who was going at it alone. Everyone had told me how stressful it would be but I didn’t realize how insane it would be until I was knee deep in.
This is a long post because I literally went in knowing zero and learned so much through the process! I was constantly googling and reading articles, asking friends and family a million questions. I wanted to know as much as possible to make the best decision possible for this huge investment. I also learned a ton from reading other peoples personal experiences online so I thought I would share mine in hopes that it may help someone out there as well!
I’ve compiled my top 10 tips that I learned through the process while they are still fresh in my memory. Here we go!
- One of my friends gave me what I thought was the absolute hands down best advice after I may have had a mini meltdown when I realized I didn’t have a big enough downpayment for a property that I fell in love with. She told me new properties come on the market everyday! Once she told me this it totally shifted my mindset from scarcity to endless possibilities. You really have no clue whats about to hit the market or is right around the corner.
- It may take longer than you think. This was something that initially bummed me out. You can bet that I didn’t start the search thinking it would take me 2 years to buy my apartment. Everyone has a different timeline, parameters, budget etc so its best to put on your blinders when you see others snagging their dream home in record speed. The up side to this is that in that 2 year time span I continued to save as much as possible and my savings only grew!
- Your priorities can change. I went into my buying journey thinking I was going to purchase in a totally different neighborhood. Be flexible with yourself and your wants and needs and what types of properties present itself.
- All cash offers are real. There are always people who are going to have a lot more money than you or a bigger downpayment. It can be discouraging but there is hope. I was working with a very small budget for NYC and I financed my purchase.
- Your weekends and schedule will completely change. Zillow/Streeteasy/Trulia dominated my life. The first thing I would do every morning was look at my email to see if any new properties had come on the market. My weekends and after work schedule were filled with open house or showing after showing. Luckily I love the thrill of the hunt so this was exciting to me but for some I know it can grow wearisome fast!
- There are a lot of amazing resources for first time homebuyers. Six months into my search I started working with an advisor at Neighbors Helping Neighbors here in Brooklyn. This was a total game changer for me. My advisor Robert helped me devise a game plan, find an amazing first time home buyer program at Citibank that helped me secure a loan with no PMI and a smaller downpayment and even helped me find a grant program through the city that assisted me with my downpayment. Because of his help I was able to take the budget I thought I was working with and increase it which opened up a few more opportunities for me as far as properties and helped me find my current apartment. Working with them was phenomenal and I’d highly advise you to add an advisor to your team.
- Speaking of working with a team I was initially worried going into this whole process that I would be doing this alone but it was not the case at all! You really will end up with an entire home buying team besides yourself that you will work with closely throughout the process and will come invaluable. My team consisted of my buyers broker, my lawyer, my advisor at Neighbors Helping Neighbors, my loan officer, and towards the end there seemed to be more people popping in to assist everyday. Remember that even if you are buying a solo homeowner you are not alone in this process!
- This is a very NYC thing but I had a lot of fear around the co-op board interview and this process in general. Although I’m sure there are scary boards out there mine was more like a meet and greet except for the people I was meeting and greeting knew everything about me down to the pennies in my bank account. It wasn’t as scary as I had hyped it up to be in my head and I left feeling good about my decision to buy in the building.
- Closing costs plus other expenses are real! While many people fret about the downpayment also consider how much you have liquid for closing costs as well as up front expenses such as fees for paperwork, inspections etc. I’ve kind of purposely blacked out on exactly how much my closing fees were but my advisor uses 4.5% of the purchase price for a condo or house. I don’t believe mine were that much as I bought a co-op but be prepared and factor that into your budget!
- When your offer is accepted and you finally sign the contract you may have a moment of doubt. I had a panic attack because another apartment came on the market that I was interested in the day after my offer was accepted. It wasn’t meant to be though. It was on and off the market for the next two months and it finally sold above asking and out of my price range. My anxiety was running at an all time high from the minute my offer was accepted until closing which was almost a full 4 months later. Get ready to practice your deep breathing.
All in all it was a stressful process but worth it in the end! I know that every time I see my mortgage payment hit my bank account I am investing in my future! I hope this was helpful! I’d love to chat more in the comments if you have any other useful tips to add!