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« previous: I'm just so proud of my country tonight   |  next: The Fairness Issue: Coping with the Flood of Foreclosures »

Monday, November 10, 2008

tips on shopping for a home

We join real estate Attorney Keith Schuman for some lawerly tips on the decision making process. Feel free to ask questions in the comments section.

buying a manahattan co-op or condoOnce you have determined how much you can afford to spend for your new home and have assembled your team of real estate professionals to assist you in this process, you can focus on the type of home you would like to purchase. If you are working with a real estate broker, be sure he or she knows what your priorities and requirements are for a home and neighborhood. Defining your price range, house or apartment size and amenities will help your broker with the search. Remember, flexibility in any of these areas will greatly increase your chances of finding the best home for you. Your broker will schedule an appointment with you to show you apartments that match your requirements. You also should attend as many open houses as you can even if your broker is not available. However, be sure you sign in under your broker’s name so that he or she can assist you with the purchase if you decide to make an offer.

A pre-war one bedroom co-op at 435 East 57th Street.

When you are searching for a home, it is advisable to bring a notepad to make notes about each apartment that you visit. You may find it helpful to consider the following items when you visit a potential home:
  • What is the visible condition of the home’s exterior, and in the case of a coop or condo, the lobby, the elevators, and the hallways?
  • Has the home been well maintained, or does it require major repairs or replacements?
  • If you are looking at a coop or a condo, where is the apartment situated in the building? An apartment which faces the front of a building will provide light but might be exposed to more traffic and noise.
  • What is the condition of the other homes or buildings on the block? If neighboring homes or buildings are in poor condition, it could affect resale values.
  • How close is the home to shopping, schools, parking garages, and public transportation? Nearby services can add value to a home.
  • Are there community amenities close by? What is the reputation of the public schools in the neighborhood? Parks, museums, restaurants, and good public school districts can add value to the property.
  • How long has the home been on the market? A home that is on the market for a long time may indicate a problem with the home or property or an inflexible seller.

After you have viewed many homes, take some time to think about which one would be best for you. Use all the information that you have collected to compare the various homes before you commit to one. Weigh all the pros and cons. One home may have all the features that you want, but the price may be too high. Another home may need significant cosmetic work, but may have other attractive features and may be in the right price range. Consider the monthly carrying charges and the resale value of the home and make sure that you can obtain the required financing before you make your final decision.

Types of Home Ownership
There are four ways to take title to a home. You should discuss these with your attorney before closing so you have a clear understanding of the advantages and disadvantages of each form of ownership:
  • Sole Ownership. One person owns the home entirely.
  • Joint Tenancy with Right of Survivorship. When two or more people own an equal undivided interest in the home. If one owner dies, the surviving owner automatically becomes the owner of the deceased owner’s interest in the home.
  • Tenancy by the Entirety. The same as joint tenancy with right of survivorship except that it only applies to married couples. If one spouse dies, the surviving spouse automatically becomes the sole owner.
  • Tenancy in Common. Two or more persons own a share of the ownership (generally 50/50) of the home without rights of survivorship.

About the author: Keith A. Schuman, Esq. is the founder of Schuman & Associates, LLC, a full service real estate firm that provides legal services to its clients, through all aspects of their transactions. Keith is a frequent contributor to Contact him at or phone 212.490.0100.

related posts:
Who are the key advisors in buying a Manhattan home?
What are the actual differences between townhouses, coops, condos and cond-ops?
What are the income tax benefits of owning a home
When should I buy a home?

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