New college graduate looking to buy a co-op in West Harlem - advice?

Asked by Ten, Harlem, New York, NY Tue Aug 7, 2012

I am a recent college graduate working in banking and am interested in buying a 1Br/1Ba/studio co-op in Harlem. I have a thin credit file and so would likely co-sign financing with my parents.

-Will most coop corporations allow young people like myself into the coop?
- Do I have the ability to review the coop bylaws before making an offer?
- Are most sublet policies restrictive?

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Adina Greenberg’s answer
Adina Greenb…, , New York, NY
Wed Aug 8, 2012
Your first step should be contacting a mortgage broker or bank to find out how much you can borrow.
Without that, there's no need to look at any apartment, or even think of making an offer.
Some coops will allow parents co signing, some not, but that's really too far ahead.

Note that in general you can't see the coops bylaws till after you have an accepted offer and then that's part of your attorney's due diligence. Another general is that most coops will allow you to sublet 2 years out of 5 years. But, some coops have different rules about that.

Good luck!
1 vote
Marion, Home Buyer, New York, NY
Sat Aug 25, 2012
I live in a co-op in the 10027/Manhattanville section. It's a great time to buy and a great neighborhood to buy in. However, co-op boards can be very strict. Many have strict subletting rules. (In my coop, you can't sublet for more than two years under any circumstances.) Generally co-ops want people who will live there and not use it as an investment. Most have 20% or higher down and ask for a ton of financials. Some have "flip" taxes where you have to give back some of your profit when you leave. If you think you will hold on to it and live there for an indefinite period, than it is probably worth it. Buildings also have individual characteristics and personalities. Boards look for people who will be a good fit. Given your age and where you are, frankly, a newer condo with more young people would probably work better for you.
0 votes
Katherine (K…, , New York, NY
Sun Aug 19, 2012
Hi there--

Great choice; there are tons of deals in Harlem, and you can get a lot for your money.

In addition, there are plenty of income-restricted properties--which allow you to find affordable properties and reasonable co-op boards.

I live in an HDFC Harlem co-op myself, and specialize in working with first-time buyers. I'm also deeply into the foreclosure market, which can take longer, but provide significant rewards. For instance, there is a 2-br foreclosure in my building in the mid-$200K range; some of these also qualify for Fannie Mae Mortgage Programs, which allow you to put as little as 3% down (although the co-op may require more).

And while condos may seem appealing because there's less red tape--and sometimes ARE a great option--the biggest downside with a condo is the substantial difference in closing costs. The same apartment, if it is a co-op, could cost you $2-3000 in closing costs--but might be $15-20K if it's a condo. This isn't always a deal breaker, but it should be taken into consideration.

If you have a good job, good credit, and a co-signer, you are in better shape than you may think.

Finally, the best thing about working with a real estate agent is that since the seller pays the commission (as per the listing agreement), the agent's services are free to the buyer. There is really no good reason not to have an agent doing the work and negotiating on your side, although some unscrupulous brokers might tell you otherwise. Personally, I don't like having one agent/broker conduct both sides of the transaction unless I know them VERY well; remember that the agent is contracted to the seller. They should act in good faith for both parties, but since their salary is commission-based, there can be a tendency to want to settle at a higher price. This doesn't always happen, but it's another reason why it's good to have someone objective on your side, knowing what information to relay and what to keep private, as your deal is negotiated.

If any of this sounds like something you would like to know more about, send me an email!

I'm a licensed agent with Prudential Douglas Elliman and have worked on both buyers' and sellers' sides of lots of transactions north of 96th St. I am also a resident and strong advocate of Harlem's many neighborhoods, especially for first-time buyers. And I have learned through experience a lot about guiding first-time buyers toward finding what's really important to them and what might be better reserved for their "wish list" once they build some equity and are ready to trade up to their second apartment. ;)

If you've already found someone, good luck with your search. Buying your first place can be intimidating, but in this market, it is absolutely brilliant to have made the decision to buy.

0 votes
Jesus Rodrig…, , New York
Fri Aug 10, 2012
Co-op boards can be difficult to deal with, especially with someone with a thin credit history. You could have all the necessary paper work and financing and still not qualify. Co-op boards can disqualify you from obtaining the apartment you want and they don't have to give you a reason why. If you're serious about purchasing a 1Br/1Ba apartment i would advise looking into condos, qualifying isn't as strict.
If you have any questions please feel free to contact me. My company has relationships with many management companies throughout NYC.

Jesus Rodriguez
0 votes
Adina Greenb…, , New York, NY
Thu Aug 9, 2012
As for a mortgage person. In the past 6 months, I have been working with Michael Most of Citibank. He did the fastest mortgage process I ever encountered, he's nice and knows his stuff and as far as I know, he literally saved 5 deals of friends/colleagues in the past 2 months.
I wholeheartedly recommend him.
He's based in New York City, which is really a must and most of my buyers he worked with are first time buyers.
Below is his information.

Michael Most
Senior Mortgage Consultant
Retail Partnership Sales
666 Fifth Avenue, 13th Floor
New York, NY 10022
917-841-8096 Cell
855-831-9028 Efax
NMLS #363202
0 votes
Todd Meyer, , New York, NY
Thu Aug 9, 2012
Co-ops can be tough for First Time Home Buyers, as they usually require a 20%+ downpayment. You say you're working in banking with a thin credit file so I am assuming your Debt to Income will not be a problem. A co-signer will most likely not be necessary, you will be surprised how easy it is to obtain a mortgage. Please contact me at (516) 429-2921 if you have any additional questions, I specialize in obtaining financing for First Time Home Buyers.
0 votes
John Peitler, Agent, NY,
Wed Aug 8, 2012
Please contact me for assistance. My name is Tanuja and I can be reached at 347-882-0353. Thank you and good luck!
0 votes
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