Young, First-Time Buyer Looking for Apartment with Help from Parents

Asked by Dan Leers, New York, NY Sun Jul 29, 2007

I'm a recent MA graduate/new employee @ an NYC Museum looking to possibly buy my first place in Manhattan. Being a non-profit worker means I don't have the income to put a down payment on a place. My parents do however, and could possibly put down 30-50% of a $400K plus apartment (not much more than that though!). Can I still qualify for low-income housing (my annual income is below $45K) if my parents who actually buy the place cannot? I would assume all monthly maintenance costs and mortgage payments. I'd specifically consider neighborhoods of Far West Village, Lower East Side/Chinatown, and Park Row/City Hall. Are there decent places (1br or Studio preferably more than 700sq ft.) for this price (~$400K) in these neighborhoods? Furthermore, can you recommend any specific brokers to work with? Any information helps. Thanks!

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Mitchell Hall, Agent, New York, NY
Sun Aug 5, 2007
HI Dano, You've been given some good advice here. While it doesn't hurt to check with HPD regularly and find out about affordable housing opportunities as Northern mentions they have strict requirements and it can take a very long time.

Mitchell Lama was a good program for moderate income housing. The problem with Mitchell Lama is it was a program that started in 1955 and all the Mitchell Lama buildings all have a 20 - 30 year opt out clause. Most of the buildings are expiring and are becoming private at market rates. There are fewer and fewer of them. There are new programs, many of the new developments in order to receive their 421A or other tax abatements are supposed to set aside 20% of the apartments for affordable housing. In addition to the income restrictions the restrictions are also tiered to the amount of people in a family and what size apartment they can live in. If you're single you have to make even less and you might only be eligible for a 400 s.f studio. Under HPD subsidized housing you usually can't sell the unit at market price for 14 or 15 years without penalties.

You are fortunate that your parents can help you. There are still many apartments in Manhattan around $400K. You might want to consider other neighborhoods. The far West Village is very expensive, LES/Chinatown is less expensive but there is not a lot of inventory downtown. There are great deals in upper Manhattan such as Washington Heights. However if you are not willing to go that far north there are still some very nice apartments on the upper east and upper west sides. Lincoln Towers for example a complex of several high rise full service buildings on West End Avenue near Lincoln Center, has many large alcove studios about 600-650 s.f. for about $375K. They are a coop but they allow parents as co purchasers and guarantors. You shouldn't get caught up in square feet you will be very suprised. What matters is how the square footage is used not the number.

I suggest you contact Aileen Novess who answered previously. We work at the same firm CBHK and our company has many programs to help first time buyers. Call Aileen at 646-442-7333 You will be in good hands.
1 vote
Madeline, Both Buyer And Seller, New York, NY
Sun Aug 5, 2007
700 sq ft for $400K? You're clearly not from New York. Wherever it is that your parents made their money, it's not going to buy you anything bigger than a studio, and probably no more than 500 square feet, more likely less. Also, even if they put down a large down payment, how are you going to afford the remainder of the mortgage and maintenance (maintenance on a 500 square foot studio can easily be $700 a month in a co-op, and at the price you're looking at you're not even in the condo market)? I would go way north in Manhattan or out to the boroughs, like everyone else in a comparable budget range. And move fast, while lenders are still likely to take a chance on you.
0 votes
Ray Aguilar, , Flushing, NY
Fri Aug 3, 2007
Hi Dan-o,

I'm a real estate broker and a loan officer. I have a Condo listing in Elmhurst(South), Queens. 1 Block to R/G/V Trains. Near Queens Center Mall. 25-30 minutes subway ride to the City. 759 Sq.ft, 1 Large and 1 small bedrooms (Jr.4) Price $359,000.

If you can't get an affordable Condo in Manhattan, come and see this Elmhurst unit. The only difference are the size and the price.
0 votes
Bruce Lynn, Agent, Coppell, TX
Tue Jul 31, 2007
Dan-o, I think your choices will be limited, but you should be able to find something that will work for you. The first step is to get a good Realtor and Loan Officer working for you to find some options. If you can let me know your timeframe and contact information we'll point you in the right direction.
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0 votes
Ben Aughenba…, Other Pro,
Mon Jul 30, 2007

Great question. As you know, the NYC housing market is a beast, especially with the new listings in the market completely out of range for the majority of recent comers to the city. With that, qualifications for low-income housing are very strict and require great time, effort, and patience. This, however, should not dissuade you from trying.

My recommendations would be to peruse the following sites:

In addition, there is the Mitchell Lama program which offers limited equity ownership and also subsidized rentals. Contact HPD, NYC Housing preservation and development, although there are lotteries and waiting lists up to 10 years.
0 votes
Aileen-Manha…, , New York, NY
Mon Jul 30, 2007

I conducted a preliminary search for property in your price range and preferred location. I found two, but with less sqf than you want. I would be happy to refer you to a loan officer at a national bank who can help you - and your parents - determine what your options are. Feel free to contact me at your earliest convenience.
0 votes
Mario Pinedo,…, Agent, Cupertino, CA
Sun Jul 29, 2007
Send me an email, I have a great agent in NYC to help you. I'm not sure about the first time home buyer programs, but there definitely are loan programs that will fit your situation.
0 votes
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