6 first-time buyers on what they'd do better next time

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In Case You Missed It: Every so often, BrickUnderground digs through the archives to find the best advice our experts have shared through the years. In this installment, first-time buyers spill what they wished they'd known as virgin apartment hunters.

Holly, Upper West Side: More than anything, I would have handled negotiations myself rather than rely on my broker's advice to increase my bid. I discovered after my purchase that the "other bid" (made by neighbors in the building), which the seller's broker used to get me to bid higher, was significantly lower than my initial offer, let alone my final one! - Holly, Upper West Side

After I moved in, I learned from my new neighbors that the owners would have accepted my original offer because they were desperate to sell and knew they were asking too much.

Carolyn, Kips Bay: I bought in a co-op building when it was still controlled by the sponsor. I didn't fully appreciate what that meant--that there would be a powerless board where the residents were constantly overruled on the issues that mattered to them--like putting in a roofdeck and a remote doorman system.
Until enough sponsor units sold and the residents controlled the board, we also had to deal with a managing agent hired by the sponsor who actually turned out to be stealing from our building.  And we discovered that many capital improvements had been put off or mishandled, which cost us more money.
Vlad, Queens: I bought a co-op in Queens because the price per square foot was great back in the early 2000s. But I hate dealing with the ins and outs of being a shareholder in a co-op. I've rented out my place and had to jump through their unreasonable hoops to get my tenant approved. It's very political. Next time, I will only consider condos.
Alana, Upper West Side: I think our biggest mistake was using a broker to buy (selling is a different story). I think buyers have enough knowledge and power to negotiate for themselves without using someone who takes a cut of the selling price and just wants to get a deal done.
Cinthia, Harlem: I went with a big bank and they turned out to be awful to work with. They'll do anything to reel you in, promise smooth sailing all the way. Then, during underwriting, they turn out to be robots just going through the motions with no expertise, timing, common sense or common courtesy. I can't wait to refinance.
Rebecca, Upper East Side: Our lawyer had told us that he'd charge us somewhere between $1,000 and $2,000 for his services, depending on the complexity of the transaction. Then, at the closing--when we had a million other things to do and were totally overwhelmed--he told us the price was going to be on the higher end without explaining why and despite the fact that it was a pretty standard purchase and he was pretty unresponsive and unhelpful whenever we had called him before.
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