Ask an Expert

I'm in contract on a NYC apartment. What kind of access can I get before I close?

By Alanna Schubach | March 29, 2021 - 9:30AM 

Traditionally, buyers can make a few visits to an apartment while it is in contract. However, the Covid pandemic is making some sellers skittish.

Austin Havens-Bowen for Brick Underground/Flickr

Question:

I'm buying a new place, and I want access to the apartment to take measurements and make renovation plans. However, the seller is not being very accommodating. Three visits used to be customary—has Covid changed that? What sort of access can a buyer expect these days?

Answer:

Normally, sellers allow buyers to make a few visits to the apartment, but in some cases, the ongoing pandemic is upending this practice, our experts say. 

"The traditional contract allows for a buyer to have reasonable access with reasonable notice at reasonable times," says Deanna Kory, a broker with Corcoran. "Customarily, it’s meant between three and five visits prior to closing, for perhaps a half hour or 45 minutes at the most."

For apartments in need of renovation, she adds, buyers can sometimes make longer visits. However, the ongoing pandemic may be making sellers skittish about having people in their home on multiple occasions—and there's no law on the books about the level of access they allow. 

"Ultimately there is no specific rule on how many visits are allowed in an apartment before closing," says Jeronimo Aguilar Gutierrez, vice president of pricing and procurement with Bolster (a Brick sponsor). "One is required for the inspections on the property to be performed; however, the seller always holds the last word."

But the Covid pandemic has sellers fearful of giving buyers the usual access, he says.

That said, it may be possible to push back a bit—after all, you're making one of the biggest purchases of your life. You could try negotiating a specific number of visits with the seller while the apartment is in contract, which Gutierrez says one of his clients has done. And if push comes to shove, you could ask your attorney to intervene. 

"If a property has been on the market and the seller has been showing it, I don’t see why there should be any difference in post-contract visits," Kory says. "The buyer can always work out visits through attorneys if the seller is really being difficult." 


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