Intro to NYC real estate: Where to find classes for first-time buyers

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By Mimi OConnor  |
February 12, 2019 - 3:00PM

You have many questions. Get answers here. 


You could say that buying real estate for the first time in New York City is a daunting process—but you would be lying. The truth is, it’s freaking terrifying. (Unless you have gobs of money, but even then, we’re guessing it’s stressful.)

Arm yourself with information. The more you know about buying in New York, the more prepared you’ll be for inevitable hiccups and peculiarities of the market here. There are many ways to educate yourself: talk to your friends, buy a book for a general overview, and of course, binge-read Brick Underground.  

But sometimes you need an informed person to talk you through the process, field the most basic or specific questions, and give you the lay of the land. You need NYC home buying 101. Good news: there’s a class for that. Several, in fact. Grab your notebook and pencil and head to one of these first-time home buyer classes in New York City.

(Hot tip: StreetEasy is holding its annual First-Time Home Buyers' Series on Saturday, March 2 at NYU's Skirball Center. The free event will cover everything from understanding the NYC market and financing to legal pitfalls, home inspections, and beyond. And, there will be a Q & A to address whatever burning questions you still might have at the end.)

One important caveat: It should be noted that depending on who is holding them, these kinds of classes can be thinly-veiled marketing ploys to generate leads. Our advice: Go in with specific questions to keep yourself focused and get the info you need.

New York City Housing Partnership

Based on the eight-hour U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s curriculum to provide people with unbiased information about purchasing a home, The NYC Housing Partnership’s classes cover a wide range of topics about the buying process. The day-long seminars discuss the importance of credit and determining how much you can afford, getting a mortgage, working with a realtor, the role of an attorney, the purchase process, and affordable housing options and down payment assistance. All classes, which run throughout the year and cost $100, are conducted by Housing Partnership Development Corporation, a U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD) approved Housing Counseling Agency.

Brooklyn Brainery

Corcoran agent Alison McQueen teaches “Buying Your First Home in NYC” for just $10 at both the Prospect Heights and Park Slope locations of Brooklyn Brainery, the home of “casual classes for curious adults.” She’s a member of the company’s Multi-Million Dollar Club (awarded to high-performing sales agents) and covers preparing for a search, the best resources, what to do when you’ve found a place you love, the mortgage process, niche markets and more. The 90-minute class also allows time for plenty of questions.

Neighbors Helping Neighbors

Part of South Brooklyn’s non-profit Fifth Avenue Committee, Neighbors Helping Neighbors offers Homebuyer Seminars as part of its First-time Homebuyer Education and Counseling Program, which is dedicated to promoting sustainable homeownership for low- to moderate-income households. Classes take place in two-hour sessions over two days, and are ongoing. Cost is $60. These seminars help attendees determine their home-buying readiness, prepare finances for the process, educate about common pitfalls, predatory lending practices, how to choose an affordable mortgage, and more. Neighbors helping neighbors also offer one-on-one financial coaching. Classes take place at the organization’s Gowanus location.


For a completely free crash course in NYC home buying, head to Compass agent Lindsay Owen’s 90-minute class at the Second Street Park Slope office. (She holds them periodically, more frequently in the high season of spring and fall.) The session covers topics such as leveraging the current buyer’s market, the buying timeline, the difference between a co-op and condo, how to place an offer, and how a buyer’s agent can help you in your search. The evening also includes a discussion of mortgage rates and the approval process, and insight from a mortgage professional. Follow Owen on Twitter or Instagram (or sign up for her charming newsletter) to get word of her latest class offerings.


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Mimi OConnor

Contributing Writer

Mimi O’Connor has written about New York City real estate for publications that include Brick Underground, Refinery29, and Thrillist. She is the recipient of two awards from the National Association of Real Estate Editors for interior design and service journalism. Her writing on New York City, parenting, events, and culture has also appeared in Parents, Red Tricycle, BizBash, and Time Out New York.

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