Truthfully, based on your comments, I don't see any upside to buying now, rather than waiting till you are ready to move and physically live in the apt 3 years from now. Since you don't want to be a landlord and deal with a tenant, having a unit sit empty for 3 years, while you pay maintenance fees, taxes, and any possible assessemnts that might be incurred, doesn't make any sense. Certainly, there are no indications that home prices will skyrocket anytime soon (I only wish!!). My only advice would be to keep an eye on the market in Queens, and if you see prices starting to increase over the next few years, as your retirement time gets closer, then, for that reason, you might want to buy slightly ahead of your move.
If your postion on being a landlord changes, that would be the only reason I might suggest buying sooner rather than later, if the renatla numbers are positive - otherwise, relax, and wait till you're ready!
Don't buy a co-op now, especially if you don't plan on living in it. Co-ops are notoriously difficult to rent out, even in Queens, but made worse by the fact that you will be an absentee landlord in a city that favors renters. Also, many co-op boards restrict how long the unit can be rented, or after how long a period of time must pass before it can be rented, or charge a rental fee in addition to the maintenance simply to get in on the action, or require getting board approval for renters, or in the worse situation, a combination of any or all of the above.
If you want to rent it out, you are better off going with a condo. But although Bloomberg is expecting like 1 Million more people in the next ten years with many going to the outer boros like Queens, there are many new buildings coming on the market particularily in LIC and Astoria to alleviate some of that demand. But in Queens, there will always be co-ops and condos available, and not at the slobber prices of Manhatten., so you are better off waiting.
Lastly, it is notoriously difficult to make even positive cash flow when buying a rental property in NYC, and it is even more difficult when you won't live here and have no control over the maintenance- which always goes up. Unlike other areas, where renting and buying might be comparable monthly payments, here in NYC people often pay at least a 15% premium to own rather than rent. So for example, your co-op that you would need to rent out at 1400 to cover its costs has a good chance of having a FMV of 1200 rental. And what are the chances that you stumble accross one that works out, not being here, not knowing the nabes, and not knowing the sellers?
Wait it out- Queens co-ops/condos will not go through the roof in 3 years. Save your money and avoid the stress, then come and enjoy our great city. We will be waiting for you.
For you, basically none. Unless you really really like to gamble, and are willing to make a bet that could pay off with about a 10% gain about 10-20% of the time, and the other 80-90%, you'll lose 5-25% of your investment.
Our advice is basic.....if it's the right omes, in the right location, offered at the right price......NOW is as good a time as any.
The mistake people are making in today's market is viewing the real estate market on a "short term" basis. Unless you are investing, the best way to view your purchase is long term and buy SMART.
I will be happy to do property management for you and it will be ready to occupy on your relo.