YO! WHERE YOU BEEN? Well, normally the answer to that question is: BEEN DRUNK. But, serious. Busy. Part of the "busy" is the "buying of an apartment" that we've recently completed. I need to keep track of everything and the best way to do that is the hot medium of the future: "BLOGGINGS!"
Where to start Two years ago, Mrs. Robot and I somehow found ourselves at an open house here in Brooklyn. It was a building that had been on our radar for a long time and the apartment was great. Wonderful space. Lots of closets. The price, I'm sure in hindsight (and I'm not looking it up and starting to cry) was fair but being that I am the sober one in this marriage I said something like, "We don't even know how much we can afford - we need to figure that out!"
Get your money We are lucky in that we have a guy who we can run financial things by. He looked at all our moneys (strip clubs, gun running, hired thuggery) and gave us a range of what we could afford (which was $125.00). That's the first step. What do we have. What can we afford. Assume 20% down. Assume a bag of cash needed for various inspections and closing fees.
Find a realtor The best way to do this is to choose the hottest realtor photo on the benches at bus stops. We actually chose our realtor after she appeared in a NYT article about a buyer looking for a similar apartment and price range. That makes sense, right?
Realtors, at least in NYC, are of course paid by the seller. They split a broker fee with the buyers broker so you don't actually pay them anything. That is, unless you are buying an apartment from a seller who is using a broker who doesn't "co-broke". Then, guess who has to write a big-ass check to a realtor? You. This is what happened to us. More about that later.
What a realtor does In our case, we didn't talk too much with our realtor person that often. They will give you access to their real estate search tool. They may send you a listing from time to time. Their value is really in: Answering real estate questions that come up Putting offers in Getting all the paperwork together for your offers, board interviews, and closing Acting as a general advisor What they don't do is some dumb HGTV House Hunters stuff where they visit places with you and point things out. At least in NYC. We probably toured 3 or 4 places with our realtor - that said, we probably went to 60 or so open houses on our own.
What you want? The other big step was putting together a list of wants and needs. Figuring out which neighborhoods we wanted to look at. Thinking of things that we totally don't want. All that stuff. We had very simple needs: sound proofing so that we couldn't hear the neighbors fart. A closet or two. An elevator. That was our list. Since we live in a borderline third world building currently, anything else would be icing on the cake.