what is the procedure of buying a condo?

Asked by Julia, New York, NY Thu Oct 4, 2012

Help the community by answering this question:

+ web reference
Web reference:


Kelly Killian’s answer
Kelly Killian, Agent, Astoria, NY
Thu Oct 4, 2012
Hi Julia:

To add to the below, the process should be as follows:
1) Understand your savings, amount to put down, total monthly costs that you are comfortable with
2) Understand the area that you want to live in, more specific the better
3) Understand the size of the property that you want to purchase or that you believe your monthly costs can afford
4) Get a mortgage pre-approval from your bank or broker of choice. This will also help inform you of the above so your search will be focused on what you want and can do with out wasting time.
5) Find yourself a good, solid buyer's agent who will look out for your interests. They can also help you with a mortgage broker if you aren't sure where to go.
NOTE: Be aware that if you are doing less than 20% down in NYC that you will not be a better choice than your compeition that puts down 20% or more. A seller's agent may take a lower price offer for a deal with 20%+ if you are putting down less money.

At offer you will need to have some documents prepared to ensure that you are the better packaged candidate for the property.
1) Offer letter including amounts down, financing etc. This your agent should do.
2) Pre-approval letter
3) Proof of downpayment
4) Financial form - objective is to ensure the seller's agent is aware of your capability to be financed.

At offer acceptance:
Have an attorney ready. Attorneys are skilled at understanding potential problems with the building docs or any other issues (offering plan, financials, minutes, any litigation etc). They will also negotiate the contract with the seller's attorney to ensure that it doesn't only benefit the seller.

If you want an inspection, do that between acceptance and contract signing to ensure no issues and negotiate anything needed (fix electric plugs)

Sign contract:
This will include the attorney explaining to you the legal ramifications of the contract. At this point in time you put down 10% which goes into attorney escrow. The attorney then begins the title search once the seller's sign (you sign first).

Now the mortgage process begins.
1) The mortgage company will investigate and approve the building
2) Then investigate your financial background and approve you.
3) Once the above two items happen, you will get a commitment

With in 2-3 weeks of commitment you will be able to sign on your property. With in 3 days before you should do a walk through with your agent and the sellers agent to ensure everything is as required in the contract. You do need to have the type of insurance that your bank requires prior to closing, this is called a binder. Closings seem a bit daunting in NYC as at the table there are seller, buyer and bank attorney's, title company and the agents involved. You also get to read the HUD statement with your attorney that is a flashback to accounting 101. Your attorney is there to help you through it. The show is with the attorneys and title company, and the agents are there at that point for moral support.

One of the points to indicate is that having a good agent is critical as they do a lot of the behind the scenes liaisoning with the bank and the attorneys. A good one will know when things are wrong (they instinctively know even when no one is telling them anything!) and get to the bottom of it to straighten it out because they do this all the time. For them, in effect, the deal starts at offer as there is a lot of work to ensure everyone is on the same page. Find a good one that can oversee the process and help smooth out issues as we go forward. They should help make the process relatively transparent to you or as much as possible in this current environment.

I hope that that helps understand the steps. Feel free to call if you need more detail.

Kelly Killian
Vice President
Bond New York
Manhattan, Queens and Brooklyn
3 votes
WOW! Great advice!
Trevor Curran NMLS #40140
Flag Thu Oct 4, 2012
First Last, , 90002
Fri Oct 5, 2012
I would like to add one thing not yet mentioned: Go visit open houses as soon as you think you might be buying.

The reason is, you will learn so much about what you like and don't like simply by seeing so many properties, and seeing what $X will get for you.

Be careful what you say, though, because that agent is working for the seller, not for you, and is legally obligated to reveal anything you have said to the seller. This can really work against you if you end up negotiating on that apartment.

Also, if you're buying in Manhattan, most apartments you see will be co-operatives. This is where a good agent can really help, because you will need to prepare a board package and sit for a board interview. I believe in preparing for interviews to ensure that you pass, and it's important that the board package (which is usually at least 1/2 an inch thick, with many copies) is persuasive.

I'd be delighted to help you find a condo in Manhattan or Brooklyn, please feel free to contact me.

Karla Harby
Licensed Real Estate Salesperson
Rutenberg Realty
New York, NY
1 vote
Krystyna Rac…, Agent, New York, NY
Sun Oct 19, 2014
Hi Julia,

For information related to purchasing an apartment in Manhattan, you can read this webpage from our website:
We specialize in working with foreign buyers.

Best regards,

Krystyna Rachtan, Licensed Real Estate Broker
Phone (212) 991-8072 Email: kr@nyhome.com
295 Madison Avenue, 12fl, New York, NY 10017
0 votes
Gea Elika, Agent, New York, NY
Tue Oct 7, 2014
Hello Julia,

I believe our comprehensive Home Buyers handbook will answer all your questions. It is available to be downloaded free at: http://www.elikarealestate.com/blog/buy-home-nyc/

Please feel free to contact me directly should you have any further questions or require assistance.

Thank you
0 votes
Christine Go…, Agent, New York, NY
Fri Oct 3, 2014
Hi Julia,

How are you? I hope all is well.

Are you still interested in purchasing a condo? If so, I'd be glad to provide you with our 15 page printed guide entitled "Condo vs. Coop in NYC - Your step-by-step guide to buying a new home"

Looking forward,

Christine Gordon
Licensed Real Estate Broker
Gorick Realty, Inc.
Cell: 917.881.2924
Fax: 347.328.9352
View listings at http://www.gorickrealty.com
"Home is where the heart is."
0 votes
Paul Marzolla, Mortgage Broker Or Lender, Fort Lee, NJ
Wed Oct 1, 2014
The first and most important step would be for me to ensure you're qualified so I can issue your mortgage Pre-Approval Letter. This letter is what grants you buying power and the ability to place and negotiate offers.

Your mortgage will most likely be your largest monthly expense which is why it's of utmost important that it's handled by a knowledgeable and experience mortgage professional, such as myself. The last thing you want is a "surprise" to happen in underwriting which could of been avoided from the start; that's the difference that I make. You will know what to expect from the start and experience nothing short of a smooth transaction.

I recommend that we speak so we can discuss your scenario as a whole. We can go over the finer details of the condo buying process and weigh-out all feasible options. It's important that your monthly payment is comfortable (not just manageable) and makes sense from a financial standpoint. Please don't hesitate contacting me at your earliest convenience so we may get the ball rolling. I may be reached directly via phone or email, whichever method you prefer. I look forward to helping!

Kind regards,

Paul Marzolla
Vice President
Direct: (201) 957-6768
Email: info@paulmarzolla.com

Licensed by New York Department of Financial Services
Member of NAMB - The Association of Mortgage Professionals
Member of New York Real Estate Investors Association
0 votes
Michael Druc…, Agent, New York, NY
Mon Sep 15, 2014
For a firs time buyer this can be a complicated process. Work with a broker who is experienced and can manage the process for you.
0 votes
Fern Hamberg…, Agent, New York, NY
Wed May 22, 2013
Hello Julia,

Buying a condo is the same as buying a coop except you do not get to be interviewed by the board.
and your closing costs are much higher than if you are to buy a coop.

You must have all your finances in order.
1- Have a pre-approved letter from a financial institution.

2- A pre-approval letter is not sufficient, a pre-qualification letter from a real estate broker should be more accurate, because now you are purchasing within a building and some buildings may have some specific rules even if it is a condo.

3- A proof of fund, a REBNY (Real estate board of NY) financial form should be completed, showing all your finances which have to be verfiied shortly.This REBNY form along with the pre-aproval letter will be presented when you present an offer to the seller.

4 -Tax returns for the last two years showing that you have an income or an annual salary or both.

5-Bank statements showing your cash or liquid assets.

6- any stocks and / or bonds portfolio showing again your liquid assets.

7- Any retirements statements showing your current balance.

8- Must have good credit.

9- Know that the banks will require that you put down at least 20%

Having all your financial papers ready, you should be able to point how much you can afford, since
the banks will allow you to borrow more than the building's maximum financing.

10- Once you have all your finances in order, you should select a real estate broker you are comfortable with and then go out and select the unit of your choice.

11- the same way, the seller wants to know about your financials, you should also know about
the building financials and that is when a real estate broker will be able to disclose.

12- Than negotiation starts and once the purchase price and all terms are agreed upon, contract is then signed and executed.

13- With a signed contract, you are then allowed to proceed for a loan.

14- An apraisor is then asked to go and inspect your unit.

15- While this is happening the real estate broker collects and verifies all your assets against your proof of funds.

16- Other activities can take place, like getting to know the financials and rules of the building.

17- you should know if there is any assessment going on or if there are 421 Tax abatement.

18- Depending on which building your purchase in, you may have to submit some business and personal refferals stating your good character.

19- And a purchase application along with all your verfied paperwork is then submitted to the management of the building.

20- The management will then run a credit check and reviews all the paperwork.
Within a 30 day period, you will be told whether you submitted all the papers accurately or whether you are missing more documents.

21-Once all this is done, the bank will have to issue a letter of comitment stating that they will lend you the amount you need if and when you meet all their conditions.

22- Once all these conditions are met, then the lawyers will schedule the closing, this is when you get
the deed of the unit and the keys once the loan from the bank is cleared.

There are a few other little activities that may take place but basically i covered most of them.

I hope i answered your questions.
Best Regards and good luck!

Fern Hamberger
The Fern Hamberger Team
0 votes
Bill, , Southampton, NY
Wed Oct 10, 2012
Its important to check out the financial condition of the condominium. Check to see if the HOA dues are paid on time by at least 90% of the unit owners, check to see if the HOA is in any lawsuits. Check presale and percent of owner ocupancy vs investors. Check percent of individual ownership and that no one entity owns more than 10% of the total units.
0 votes
Jennifer Chi…, Agent, New York, NY
Sun Oct 7, 2012
Here is a great post that will detail a step by step guide on how to buy a condo in Manhattan.


I thought it is important to note that I amn also a licensed real estate appraiser in Manhattan and I make sure that my clients do not overpay for an apartment.

You now have the opportunity to search approximately 20,000 exclusive listings, representing the entire database of residential listings available through the membership of the Real Estate Board of New York (REBNY).

These are the most accurate listings you can find in NY because they come from the brokers themselves; there is no bait and switch, no duplicates, and no opens; and are updated every hour.

Read: How to Buy an Apartment in Manhattan and Get the Best Interest Rate


Jennifer Chiongbian
SVP/ Associate Broker
Rutenberg Realty NYC
0 votes
Christopher…, Agent, Tarrytown, NY
Sat Oct 6, 2012
Here is a blog post I composed a while back...hope it helps....Purchasing a Condo in Westchester County NY is much different from purchasing a Coop yet alot of people tend to get them confused. I explained in detail, in a previous post what a Coop is and discussed the purchasing process. A Condo is a single real property parcel with all of the unit owners having a right to common use and common elements with separate ownership confined to the individual units which are serially designated. There are a few different styles of Condos; Garden (usually a small building consisting of no more then three levels), Townhouse style, Midrise and Highrise buildings. Unlike a Coop You own the Unit and receive a Deed along with a Title. You will pay Property Taxes as well as monthly Common Charges which usually cover the expense of maintaining the Common areas.

The Condiminium is goverened by a Board Of Managers that makes financial decisions as to the Common Charges, but not for the costs of individual units. The Condominium Board Of Managers usually do not have decision making powers as to the sale or sublet of the unit to whom it may be sold or as to repairs and alterations within the particular unit. In some cases You may find that when situated in a building with other units any electrical or structural changes to be made may have to be brought to the attention of the board. This is to make sure that the structural integrity of the building isn't compromised and the other owners aren't going to be affected. You may also be required to have work done during certain hours during the week and have only licensed and insured workers perform.

The Buyer of a Condo will get to review a copy of the of the Condominiums Offering Plan which will include the sale price of the building and each apt or home, history of the building, budget, financial statements, right of existing owners, existing contracts or agreements (capital imporvements, ongoing construction, etc), and engineering reports. You will get to look this over with your Attorney before signing contracts. Some lenders will want to make sure that there aren't an outstanding number of owners that are late or in default with their Common Charges. This is a major red flag and could affect your chance of getting a loan for that specific complex. You will also get a copy of the Condominiums by-laws to review, which ar basically the laws that govern.

When selling a Condominium some Boards have a "Right of First Refusal". This is a provision that states the Condominium has the first right to purchase if a member wishes to sell their unit. From my experience, and my experience only, it is not common that the Condominium will buy the unit so a waiver of Right To First Refusal is usually signed.

There are many benefits to owning a Condominium, absolute ownership being the most important along with more freedom and tax incentives.
0 votes
Elena Ravich,…, Agent, New York City, NY
Fri Oct 5, 2012
I would be happy to give you a free consultation on all the issues related to buying a condo in Manhattan, explain the steps and provide closing costst estimates.

It is hard to give you precise directions without knowing if you are a resident of the US or an overseas buyer and if you are financing your purchase or not.

The main points would be to know well the areas of your preference, your budget and any other specific features that are important to your search. Procedurally - most condo buildings require a board package and approval, and each of them has their own sales application package...

Please feel free to give me a call to discuss
Elena Ravich
Rakita Realty
646 593 7207
0 votes
Ross Ellis, Agent, New York, NY
Fri Oct 5, 2012
Dear Julia,

You have made the decision to purchase a condo vs coop. Was your decision on condo vs coop based on wanting to rent out the apartment?

I ask this because there is not a lot of inventory on the market in condos in Manhattan, and there is more inventory in coops.

Either way, you should get pre-approved for a mortgage unless you plan to pay all cash.

The second thing to do is hire an experienced buyers broker who knows the Manhattan real estate market.

When considering the purchase of a condo your broker will not only now what is available, but they will know if your finances are acceptable for the property you are considering, negotiate a good price for you, work closely with your mortgage lender to determine if the bank lends in the particular building where you want to make the purchase, work closely with your attorney who should be a New York City real estate attorney with experience in condos, and they will ensure that your board package is correct and complete in order for the condo management and board to approve your application and waive the right of first refusal. This means that a condo could purchase the condo outright rather than allow you to purchase it however I have never seen this done.

If I can be of any assistance to you don’t hesitate to contact me.

Ross Ellis
Licensed Real Estate Salesperson
Halstead Property
Member of Real Estate Board of New York
212.317.7828 direct
770 Lexington Avenue, 10th Floor
New York, NY 10065
0 votes
James Furlong, Agent, Brookline, MA
Thu Oct 4, 2012
Great answer by Kelly Killian.
0 votes
Trevor Curran, Mortgage Broker Or Lender, Great Neck, NY
Thu Oct 4, 2012
Good evening Julia,

First step:
Get Prequalified for mortgage financing by an experienced Local Mortgage Banker.

Second step:
Locate a great, experienced Realtor

Third step:
Shop 'til you drop!

Basically the process for a Condo is the same as for shopping for a home. There are some differences in the financing, so you want to be sure your Mortgage Banker is very experienced so she can guide you accordingly.

Good Luck!

Trevor Curran
NMLS #40140
Mobile: 516-582-9181
Office: 516-829-2900
Fax: 516-829-2944
PowerHouse Solutions, Inc.
185 Great Neck Rd, Suite 240
Great Neck NY 11021
Licensed Mortgage Banker – NYS Dept. of Financial Services
0 votes
Charlie Summ…, Agent, New York, NY
Thu Oct 4, 2012
Hi Julia, as mentioned by one of my colleagues much will depend on whether you are buying a co-op or condo and understanding the difference is important. In Manhattan about 75-80% of inventory is co-op and each building will have rules about down payment limits (typically they require 20-25% down) and also may restrict the type of residential use (meaning may prohibit occasional use, use by family members without the primary occupant in residence, etc). Closing costs on a co-op are usually less than on a condo since you are buying shares in a corporation rather than real property. Condos as mentioned are more scarce, tend to sell at a premium in price versus co-ops but have fewer limitations and are suitable for investors. Aside from locating the unit you want to buy its mostly about making sure your finances are suitable for the given property at hand, getting pre approved for a loan unless you are paying cash, and working with your broker to complete the purchase application which will need to be approved by the buildings board whether co-op or condo (there are also no board approval units that come up very occasionally). I would be happy to answer any other questions you have and help you find your new home!
Charlie Summers, SVP, Bellmarx 917-376-1648
0 votes
Veronika Baba, Agent, NY,
Thu Oct 4, 2012
Check your credit rating and clean up your credit. Buying a condo or house requires you finances to be in order. Nothing is worse than finding the condo of your dreams only to have your mortgage application fall through.
Learn about the different mortgage types and decide how much you can afford to spend on your condo. Decide on a price that you are comfortable with and stick to is so you won’t be overextended after you close your condo.
Decide where you want to live. Choose a neighborhood and condo project that fit your lifestyle in a location that is convenient for you.
If you are interested in finding a buyers broker to help you through the closing process now is the time to find one. A broker can help you find the unit that you want and help with the negotiation process.
Find your condo unit.
Write a purchase contract
Educate yourself on what the market is currently doing so you can have the upper hand during the negotiation process.
Negotiate the deal.
Have the condo inspected. This could be the best $200 dollars you ever spent.
Obtain attorney approval on the contract.
Get your loan approved by your loan officer.
Close on your condo unit.
0 votes
Filippa Edbe…, Agent, New York, NY
Thu Oct 4, 2012
Hi Julia,

Buying a home is a very exciting experience. You might already know the difference between a Condo and a Co-op. In short: owning a Condo you own Real Property, meaning everything within the walls of your unit, as well as a small percentage of the common areas. Owning a Co-op, what you actually own are shares in a corporation that then entitles you to occupy your unit with a "proprietary lease." You will need a board approval to buy, sell, renovate or sublease.

In Manhattan over two thirds of all apartments are Co-ops, and each Co-op has its own rules.

As for Condos the buying process is more straightforward, and you have more flexibility regarding buying, renovating, subletting, selling, etc

For a more detailed overview of the procedure, time line and costs related with buying a Condo ( or a Co-op) have a look at the link below:


Let me know if you need additional help.

0 votes
Brad Malow, Agent, New York, NY
Thu Oct 4, 2012
Hi Julia,

Take a look at http://www.BuyingNYC.com for information on the purchase process as it relates to co-ops an condos. I think you'll find it to be very helpful.

Brad Malow
Helping buyers and sellers navigate the complexities of NYC's real estate market
0 votes
Don Tepper, Agent, Burke, VA
Thu Oct 4, 2012
Pretty much the same process as buying any real estate. The extra "twists" often involve your inspecting the condo's bylaws and financial statements to find out what you may be required to do and to find out whether the condo is in decent financial shape.

Meanwhile, your lender will want to make sure that not too many units are in foreclosure or are rentals. You should be able to determine this early on, so that you don't start pursuing a property on which a lender won't lend.

A good local Realtor will be able to assist you.
0 votes
Rich Homer, Agent, NAPLES, FL
Thu Oct 4, 2012
Engage a Real Estate Broker first. Best to look for a local Real Estate Broker under "Find a Pro in the header of this website. http://www.NaplesRealEstateGuys.com
0 votes
Search Advice
Ask our community a question

Email me when…

Learn more