Buying an Apartment in NYC: Your Step by Step Guide

Looking for information about buying an apartment in NYC that’ll take you step by step through the process? Then look no further than this post! The timeline below provides a brief overview of the process so that it won’t seem like such a mystery.

Timeline for Buying

  • Speak with a mortgage broker, bank or financial advisor.

  • 1 to 3 weeks
    • Pre-approval has to be your first step once you’ve decided you’re serious about buying. Missed that post? You can take a look at it again here.
  • Hire a real estate lawyer.

  • 1 to 3 weeks
    • Remember – real estate is key here and they need to be well versed in residential NYC real estate transactions. An attorney is a key member of your real estate team. Don’t wait until the last minute to engage the right one!
  • Hunt for an apartment.

  • 1 to 3 months
    • Although this process typically takes anywhere from 1 to 3 months for many active buyers, some people will find their homes much sooner or later than others.
  • Negotiate on the apartment.

  • 3 days to 2 weeks
    • Most apartments are sold “as is,” so be clear with your real estate agent about current or pending assessments, fixtures, window replacements, air conditioners, rugs, floors, curtains, appliances, working fireplaces, washer/dryers, etc.
    • Appliances are usually included, whereas some fixtures, such as window treatments, etc., are usually not. Always ask, do not assume.
  • Sign your contract.

  • 3 to 10 days
    • The seller’s attorney will draw up the initial draft of the contract for review and negotiation with the buyer’s attorney over the precise terms and any conditions and contingencies. During this time, the buyer’s attorney will also conduct due diligence. This is the time when you find out if there are any issues with either the apartment or the building.
    • Once all terms are agreed to, the buyer signs the contract and returns it to the seller’s attorney along with typically a 10% deposit. Once the deposit is received, the seller executes the contract.
    • A contract is binding only after both parties have signed it and value has been rendered (e.g. escrow monies).
  • Apply for a Mortgage and Receive Your Commitment Letter from the Lender.

  • 3 to 6 weeks
    • Once you have a fully executed contract, you can begin the formal process of applying for a loan. The co-op or condo board will require a commitment letter from the lender as part of the board package.
  • Complete Your Co-op Board Package or Condo Application.

  • 10 to 20 business days
    • Concurrently with your mortgage application, you will begin the process of putting together your co-op board package or condo application. It usually takes 2 to 4 weeks to gather the information for the purchase application and the requested documentation.
  • Submit Board Package for Managing Agent’s Review

  • 1 to 4 weeks
    • Once your board package is complete, it will go to the managing agent for review. If deemed complete, it will then be forwarded to the board members for review. In a co-op, the board members will decide if they want to meet you after reviewing your application, and in a condo, the board will decide if they wish to exercise their right of first refusal or approve the purchase.
  • Co-op Board Interview & Approval

  • 30 Minutes to 1 Hour for the Interview; 1 day to 1 week for approval
    • The managing agent will reach out to you to schedule your interview which will often occur at the board’s monthly meeting or at a special meeting. It all depends on each individual board’s procedures. It is critical to make yourself available for this interview.
  • Schedule a Closing

  • 2 weeks after approval
    • Managing agents generally set the closing date, and buyer’s and seller’s lawyers will coordinate with the appropriate banks, title company, brokers, etc., for available dates and times.

Overall, the total amount of time from accepted offer to closing is 2 months for most condos and 3 months for most co-ops. But remember your time frame could vary from what’s noted above depending upon the circumstances surrounding your purchase.


So there you have it. Hopefully this overview of buying an apartment in NYC step by step was helpful. But I’ve got something even better for you if you want more details. It’s my First Time Buyer’s Guide, and you can download it here for free when you join my email newsletter list.





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