Buyers' Guide

Mortgage Guide:

Getting a mortgage loan these days can be a slow and frustrating experience.

Here are some things that buyers should know as they go through the application process:

  1. Ask for the "Good Faith Estimate" early. It won’t be released until it is officially "complete" and all the questions are answered. Push applicants to find answers right away to all the lender’s questions.
  2. Suggest they read and ask questions about the fine print. Identifying and negotiating all the fees and charges can cut an applicant’s costs.
  3. Shop title insurance. Point buyers toward Web sites like Closing.com, where they can comparison shop.
  4. Get a commitment. Insist that the lender or loan broker agree that there won’t be any other charges on the HUD-1, which most borrowers don’t see until they are at the settlement table. "If [the lender] won't agree to that, you have to be a little suspicious," says Claire Fennessey, senior vice president of Entitle Direct.
  5. Question flood insurance. If a property requires flood insurance, point buyers (and sellers) toward a civil engineering firm with experience with the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s resources to ensure that they aren’t paying too much. Eligibility for a preferred risk policy can cut costs substantially.
Co-op or Condo Buyers' Guide:

The steps to purchasing a co-op or a condominium in Manhattan are very similar. Let us assume that you have found the property on which you wish to place an offer and that you have spoken to a bank or mortgage broker (if financing) to determine a comfortable financing price level.

  1. Offers are made orally in New York City. When you have found the right property, a bid or offer will be placed through your agent. They will convey your offer to either the seller's agent or to the seller directly.
  2. The seller may "counter" your offer. This will begin a negotiation process that will eventually lead to a "meeting of the minds," at which point price, terms, and closing date have been agreed upon.
  3. A real estate attorney is required in all property transactions in New York City. Contact an attorney familiar with real estate in Manhattan to represent you. The seller's attorney will begin preparation of a contract of sale, and during that time your attorney will begin to examine the financial condition of the building in which you wish to purchase. Your real estate agent can assist you in finding experienced attorneys.
  4. After your lawyer concludes that the financial condition is satisfactory, that the by-laws of the building are acceptable to you, and that the contract of sale is also acceptable, your attorney will allow you to sign the contract. At that time you will usually be required to present a deposit of 10% of the purchase price. The contract plus the deposit will then be forwarded to the seller for signature . This money will be held in the seller's attorney's escrow account until closing. It is important to note that until all parties have signed the contract, and it has been delivered, the seller can still entertain and accept other offers.
  5. If financing, you should move forward with your loan application. Your real estate agent can assist you in finding a mortgage broker . It is advised that you pre-qualify for a mortgage with a brokerage firm prior to beginning your housing search.
  6. You will, by now, have received from your real estate agent the board requirements and application materials. The application materials can be similar for a cooperative and condominium. However, the actual process is quite different. You will need to complete all of the required materials which typically include: an application, a financial statement signed by a CPA, all requisite support for your financial statement, three years of tax returns, bank statements, letters of personal and financial reference, letters of professional reference, the contract of sale, bank documents (if financing) indicating that your loan is in place, etc.
  7. When your "package" is finished, it will be reviewed by a Green Homes NYC Manager, and then, assuming it is complete, it will be forwarded to the managing agent for review. Upon determination that it is in order and that credit checks were acceptable, it will be forwarded to the Board of Directors. No applications will be accepted by a Managing Agent unless they are complete.
  8. In the case of a cooperative, if your application meets initial approval, you will be invited to be interviewed by the Board or by an interviewing committee. This is a serious matter and not to be taken lightly. It should be treated as a business meeting.
  9. After approval by the Board, you are ready to begin planning for a closing!

In the case of a condominium, there is generally no formal interview. Your application will be reviewed, and if all required materials are included and in order, an approval is typically granted.

The entire process can move quickly in a condominium, and assuming a loan can be secured in a timely fashion, one can move from contract to closing in about 60 days. However, the cooperative process is more involved, and 60 to 90 plus days is not unusual.


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