Buying the first apartment you see? How to do it right

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There’s something seductive about purchasing the first condo or co-op you lay eyes on—saving yourself the agony of endless lists of pros and cons, reclaiming your Sunday afternoons from the open house circuit, and ending your search in one decisive action. And apparently, a growing number of New Yorkers are embracing this “one-and-done” method, the New York Daily News reports.  The lack of choice and the competition for good apartments in New York is prompting some buyers to put in serious bids after attending their first (and only) showing—especially among those who’ve already spent months researching their ideal place online.

Benefits aside, this approach is not without its risks. What if you overlook a crucial downside that a more experienced apartment shopper would have picked up on? What if you simply overpay? Here, a list of some of the ways to minimize the hazards:

Do your homework: We are living in a golden age of real estate data, and it’s now possible to unearth an incredible amount of detailed information on an apartment, building or neighborhood without ever leaving your current dwelling. For example:

Get the most out of your visit: Just because you only see a single apartment doesn’t mean you can’t glean a ton of information from one open house or showing.

  • Ask specific questions about the property, and don’t take the listing broker’s word for anything.
  • Open the closets, look under the sink, and generally don’t be afraid to explore the nooks and crannies—after all, you want to make sure you know what you’re buying.
  • Don't wait until you enter the apartment to gather information. Pay attention to the upkeep of the hallways and elevators, and scope out the common areas.

Convince sellers you’re genuine: An apartment owner may look askance at a buyer who makes an offer on the first place they see, thinking they may not be serious or knowledgeable enough to follow through with the deal. (Many buyers put in “placeholder” bids on apartments they never intend to actually purchase.) To counteract this impression, consider writing a “love letter” to the owner to underscore your ability and desire to close on the purchase, or enlisting your broker (if you work with one) to make your case.


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