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How to Buy

A New York City Apartment

Even if you consider yourself a decent negotiator, chances are you've only negotiated the purchase of a home a handful of times at most. Here are a few key do's and don'ts:

  • Don't talk too much in front of the seller's agent. You may give the agent reason to believe you can afford more than you initially offer or you might disqualify yourself as a buyer by inadvertently underselling your qualifications. Your own broker, if they're experienced, will be able to best present your net worth statement as even the most educated buyers tend to leave out assets that they didn't realize could be counted.
  • Don't present your best offer first. The other side assumes it isn't your best offer and will keep chipping away, while you've got nothing left to give.
  • Do write an offer letter. Your agent should write a carefully crafted Word document on your agent's letterhead (scanned and emailed is fine) explaining your offer and the reasoning behind it, reference supportive information like comparable sales. It communicates sincerity and demonstrates you are probably not making offers on 10 properties at once. And usually the seller's broker will show it to the seller, ensuring that your points will not be lost.
  • Don't ask for everything at once with your first offer. A lowball offer, for instance, is best digested alone.
  • Do be nice. It will get you a lot further than being a jerk, because residential transactions are more emotional. This includes your broker--so make sure you don't select one with an abrasive or bullying personality.
  • Don't blow small things--like who gets the window a/c's--into deal breakers.