If you’re looking to buy a house in Queens, then these are the 14 steps you can expect to encounter along the way. Some steps may vary depending on the type of property you buy, but in general these are the steps you can expect as you begin your home buying journey in Queens NY. Need help? Feel free to Contact Us anytime.
Talk to a lender. If you’re looking to buy a property in Queens, the first thing you need to do is find out if you can actually afford to buy. This can be done by getting a pre-qualification or a pre-approval. Without this step, you’re really just shooting in the dark. You’d be surprised, some buyers can qualify for more then they expected, and other buyers think they can get approved for more than they actually can. A mortgage lender will ask you about your income, financial statements, credit, employment history, other properties owned, etc. Many people do this years before they buy because even if the mortgage lender tells you that you can’t get a loan, at least you will know what you need to do in order to become qualified. They will tell you what to do to get on the path to homeownership and that is a key first step. If you need any lender recommendations, we have plenty.
Talk to an agent. Once you find out if you qualify for a loan, your next step should be to speak with a local agent who is full time, specializes in working with buyers, and knows the areas that you’re looking in. They’ll be able to tell you if what you’re looking for is actually realistic based on your pre-approval amount. If so, then they will likely be able to help you find a great property. On the other hand, if your approval amount is not realistic for the areas that you’re looking in, then a good buyer agent will be able to help you identify other areas that can still meet your lifestyle needs.
Schedule a buyer consultation. Most people skip this step but it is SO important. You’d be surprised how much you (and your agent) can learn once you sit down to talk through your ideas, must haves, lifestyle, etc. The initial consultation usually takes about an hour and in that time, a good buyer’s agent will ask you all sorts of questions to find out more about exactly what you’re looking for, and whether they think it is possible to find in that in the market of that moment. The consultation is key because without one, you and your agent will be learning things one the fly and this ultimately leads to a lot of wasted time seeing properties that you have no interest in. A good buyer consultation should cut your home search in half, and if done right, you should be able to find the right property within 10 showings. FYI: Buyer consultations are typically free so you should never have to pay for one.
Decide to buy. Once you meet with an agent and go over all your needs, you should have a good idea as to whether or not you are really ready to buy. If you come to the realization that you aren’t ready, that’s completely normal, and at that point, what you want to do is keep preparing so that when you enter the market you can find and buy something that you’ll be happy with. On the other hand, if you realize that you are indeed ready to buy, then the next step is to get out there and start viewing properties!
Start viewing properties. Once you decide to buy, you can get out there & actively start looking at properties. TIP: Don’t look at anything over your budget, unless you know it’s a pronounced buyer’s market. Also, be open to doing some work. Truth is that houses and apartments in Queens are old and if you require a completely move-in ready home, it will likely take you years to find the right place. Our advice, if you see a property you really like and it’s priced right, chances are someone else feels the same way so don’t hesitate to put in a strong offer to win the bid. We’ve seen people pay over asking price for a home and then a year or two later they already gained more than the difference in appreciation. We also see a lot of people who lose out on properties and then feel the regret of not being more aggressive for the property they loved. A good buyer agent will be a great partner while you view properties too because good buyer agents will point out aspects of the property that you may not see or know about.
Make and negotiate offers. Once you see a property you like, you’ll probably want to make an offer. This is where it’s very important that you understand agency because a seller’s agent (or listing agent) will always want you to pay the most money possible, while a buyer’s agent will be able to help you determine the right offer price, analyze the market, share comps with you, give you their opinion, etc. Only a buyer’s agent that you have hired to represent you can do that, a broker or seller’s agent will not be able to.
Schedule inspection & do your due diligence. Once you have an accepted offer, it’s time for you and your agent to do some due diligence. This includes things like conducting a home inspection, checking for open violations, non-permitted items, certificate of occupancies, etc. A good buyer’s agent will help you with this. A seller’s agent, broker’s agent, or non-experienced agent will most likely not help much with this type of due diligence.
Hire a real estate attorney. Once you have an accepted offer you should start vetting attorneys because as soon as you get through the due diligence period, you will need to notify them. At this point, the listing agent will ask you or your agent for your attorney’s contact info and they will include it on the deal sheet which goes out to both buyer and seller attorneys.
PRO TIP: Make sure you use a Real Estate Attorney. We’ve seen a lot of buyers lose their deal because they chose an attorney who doesn’t specialize in real estate or is not familiar with Queens’ real estate and as a result, they end up dragging things out or making things way more complicated then they need to be. Most Queens real estate attorneys know how to work together, know what is common practice, and know how to get a deal in contract as soon as possible.
Contract is drawn up and sent to buyer’s attorney. The seller’s attorney will draft the initial contract and send it to over to your attorney. The attorneys will go back & forth until they are in agreement on all terms, conditions, contingencies, language, etc. Here in Queens, this process can take anywhere from 1-3 weeks depending on how fast (or slow) the attorneys work.
PRO TIP: We have also seen a lot of deals die during this process so make sure you know what your attorney is asking for, make sure that they are being responsive to the seller’s attorney, and make sure that they are being cooperative with them as well. If you really like the property, it might not be a bad idea to express that to them so that they know that you don’t want to lose the deal.
Contract terms are finalized. Once the contract is finalized and both attorneys are satisfied with it, your attorney will call the you in to review and sign the contract. At this time, your attorney will go through the entire contract with you and answer any questions that you have. It’s a lot of legal jargon so you may feel overwhelmed, but rest assured that most contracts have standard language. What you want to pay attention to are the contingencies, language regarding liens & violations, and any riders that are added to the contract. Once you go through everything with your attorney, you will sign the contract and cut a check for your initial escrow deposit, typically 10% of the purchase price. Remaining down payment is typically paid at closing. If you are putting down leas than 10%, the seller may require you to put the entire down payment at contract signing.
Half signed contract is sent to seller’s attorney. Once you sign and cut the initial escrow deposit, the half signed contract along with your down payment check will be sent to the seller’s attorney. It is usually sent via overnight mail, or on occasion the buyer’s agent will pick it up and hand deliver it. We’ve seen deals die at this point too because in Queens, no offer is considered fully accepted until contracts are fully executed (i.e. signed kn both sides). As a result, it is very important for you to know that until contracts are fully executed, new offers will continue to be presented to the sellers and unfortunately they have every right to entertain them with no legal penalties until they sign a contract. Just another reason to make sure you move fast.
Contract is fully executed. Once the seller’s attroney receives the half signed contract, they will call the seller(s) in to review and sign the contract as well. Once the seller(s) sign, you will have a fully executed contract of sale (FECOS). At this point, you are both locked in to the contract and the goal is to get the deal to a closing as soon as possible. In our experience, as long as the proper due diligence and qualifying were done in advance, then there is no reason why you shouldn’t be able to close.
Start your mortgage application. Once you have a FECOS, you can officially start your loan application. Make sure you get all your docs in quickly so that you can expedite the application process. Your lender will ask for a million things, and it can be frustrating, but just be patient and get them in as soon as possible. Many deals that we see get dragged out are due to buyers who take too long in getting things done for their loan, or title issues that take a while to resolve. If you want to make sure you close in a reasonable amount of time, get your docs in and clear conditions as soon as your lender requests them.
Contract to close process begins. If you have a good real estate team, the transaction should be fairly smooth. If not, then you may be in for a wild ride. Make sure your real estate team is on top of things and in communication with each other to ensure a smooth transaction. If you’re taking a loan and buying a residential property, then you can expect to close in about 2-3 months (usually closer to 3 months). If you’re taking a loan and buying a coop apartment, then you can expect to close in about 3-4 months. No matter what, your deal will most likely take some time to close because that’s just how it is here in Queens. Don’t expect to close in less than 60 days because that is very rare. We always advise buyers to be conservative so plan on 3 months for residential and 4 months for coops.
PRO TIP: We’ve seen coops take 6-12 months to close so ask the agent and management company what a realistic timeline is for that specific development. This will help you plan better, and it will help you decide whether or not you want to move forward with that unit. You can also ask for a list of recent sales in the building to get an idea of how long previous deals took to close.
Well, those are the 14 steps that you can expect to encounter from the moment you start your home search until you finally go into contract. Once you are under contract, there are a ton of other things that will need to get done and there are several issues that can come up but as long as you have a good real estate team in place, everything should be fine.
Have a question? Feel free to Contact Us anytime.