As we near the end of Buyers’ Month, I have hopefully driven home why you should 100% use your own STRONG, competent agent as a buyer rather than trying to DIY it. There is simply too much information and there are too many moving parts to take care of it all by yourself. As I’ve mentioned, the sell side in most cases (in every case I’ve been involved in) pays both sides of the transaction, so not bringing your own person is like choosing to represent yourself in court rather than using a lawyer. It’s not smart.
There are, of course, many companies whose business models depend on people foregoing agents. But although these companies and websites may help you with a single transaction, that’s where their involvement ends. They don’t give you annual real estate reviews, where I sit down with you for an hour and go over the market, show you comps for your apartment, and, like a financial advisor, essentially update you on your largest asset. They also don’t provide you regular support, and you can’t call them up with a random question six months after closing. As an agent, my role is not to find you listings, but to make sure you actually end up with the keys in your hand and then continue to support you in all things real estate forever and ever, amen.
OK, so now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, I want to dig in more to the other people who will make up the “team” on any real estate deal. If the broker is the QB…ok I don’t actually know football well enough to make intelligent analogies about who represents what. But we will start with someone who is necessary in 100% of NYC transactions, even if you (foolishly) choose not to work with an agent.
All real estate transactions in NYC require a lawyer. They do the due diligence, prepare the contracts, and help coordinate and problem solve. You need to work with a lawyer who specializes in real estate transactions in the city, not your uncle who does divorce law upstate or the free lawyer your company has offered to provide. This is rote for people who do it every day, and complicated for those who don’t. Do not cost yourself money in the long run by trying to cut corners here. The lawyer should only cost you about $2-3,000, so in the grand scheme of things it’s not a huge expense.
There are so, so many moving parts in a transaction that you ideally want to work with someone who has a relationship with your agent. This is to keep things from slipping through the cracks, because at $2,000-$3,000 per transaction this actually isn’t a hugely lucrative form of NYC law. If your lawyer has a relationship with the agent you’ve chosen, she is incentivized to do a good job to make sure she continues getting business. It also means that two members of your team already have rapport, which helps in situations where things become complicated (because things are rarely straightforward, so matter how hard we try to make everything run smoothly).
If you are not buying all-cash, the second member of your team will be your mortgage provider.
Sites like LendingTree.com are not accepted here. You can’t just print out a “pre-approval” and expect that to fly when submitting an offer. It doesn’t count. You need to speak to an actual mortgage professional to find out how much you can borrow and at what rate. This will help you both put a cap on the total price of an apartment you can afford, plus you can use the size of the loan and projected interest rate to reverse-engineer your purchase price.
Again, if you use someone recommended by your agent, that often makes things go more smoothly. When should you lock in your rate? What product makes the most sense for you and your situation? If there is open communication between you, your mortgage person, your agent, and ideally your lawyer, the whole team will always be on the same page and best able to assist you in making a property your own.
You can use a provider tied to a certain bank or a broker who shops around at different lenders for the best rates, totally up to you. Your agent will be able to give you some insight of who to contact because lenders market and pitch to us all the time. We give them business, and they want to cultivate those relationships.
Another person who isn’t exactly part of the team, but if you are thinking about buying I would recommend getting on board, is a financial advisor or CPA.
Especially now that there have been changes to the tax code, having an authorized professional who can advise you on whether purchasing is a smart move and what it would look like financially is a great idea. If you have enough money to buy a home in NYC, you have enough money to have a professional do your taxes and advise you on what to do financially.
While this person won’t be directly tied to your transaction, a finance professional is the best person to tell you half of the story of whether buying makes sense. The other half is, of course, your agent. Because this is both the biggest asset you are likely going to have and also your home. So, as I keep harping on, it’s personal, emotional, and financial. You need to look at your circumstances and plans holistically in order to make the right call on when, what, and if to buy.
Oh, and the New York Value here is that it’s NYC: of course you’d need a whole team to do what is much simpler in rural areas. We are, shockingly, actually great at teamwork and looking out for one another here. <3