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First time apartment buyer here looking for a sub-$500K 1BR condo in Williamsburg or Greenpoint. I've been shopping since April, more aggressively in the last 6 weeks(open houses every weekend, seen every place currently on the market in my desired neighborhoods/range). Have found a place that fits many of my criteria and is affordable, but is not my ideal apartment, and don't feel like I "have to have it".
Looking back at the past 6 months or so, there have been at least 5 or 6 places in my price range (which sold or went to contract before I started looking or got serious) that I'd much have preferred to what's available now. My question is obviously down to opinion, but I'm going to ask it anyway. How long do you think is an appropriate amount of time to shop/wait for more inventory to feel like you've grabbed the best apartment you can realistically get for your money? I'm not in a huge rush to buy, and want the best place I can comfortably afford, but I do want to buy while interest rates are still low and before prices rise too much.
Been told never to buy out of desperation. Also been told that I won't ever find the mythical "ideal" apartment, no matter how long I wait. What's your opinion? What would you do in this market?
I'd wait, especially if there are multiple places you've seen already that you "much preferred" to the one you're considering now. The chances that an apartment you'll like better will come up seem very good to me.
The very first place I bought was the first one I saw. I spent six weeks looking exhaustively at other properties before I had the guts to go back to the first one. Fortunately, it was still available.
In New York, it took close to three years of looking (including one year of every-weekend looking) to find the place I have now. I had a very specific list of requirements, and my significant other had a different very specific list of requirements. Two years later, I still follow the market actively and haven't seen anything else in the same neighborhood - same price range that I'd rather have.
We made an offer the day the apartment was first shown and are very glad we did. We are also glad that we held off on a couple of "decent enough" substitutes. In hindsight, all of them had limitations that would've made us miserable.
I don't think there's a number anybody can give you. It's easy to say "3 months" or "6 months" but there should be extremely wide confidence intervals around those numbers. The rate of new listings has decreased and thus buyers have fewer options, but that isn't a reason to settle -- nor is the fear of higher prices or higher interest rates. The macroeconomic landscape is still a giant mess and even if rates did rise, chances are prices would soften.
I spent 18 months looking before signing a contract, and now even that is unraveling before my eyes. You need to approach the situation as objectively as possible and not let emotion get to you. Know what you need, know what you want, and know the comps.
We've started aggressively looking with a year left on the lease after renting for 5 years. We know what we want and will sit until it pops up. While any broker will try to scare you with the market is getting better, rates are low so buy now, etc keep in mind they are out primarly for the money. Don't get bullied into something that's 'just ok.'
Thanks for the thoughts. Lad, one of the places that was preferable was actually the first place I saw as well. In hindsight it was an excellent apartment, but I was nervous about jumping on it since I hadn't seen anything else. Unfortunately, the market in Williamsburg and Greenpoint seems to be heating back up and the place was in contract by the time I tried to look back into it several weeks later.
My worry in waiting is that if inventory is low right now, which is apparently the peak market season, why expect there to be better options in the fall/winter? I've also been told that there is not much new construction happening in my neighborhoods over the past couple of years. If I'm relying on mostly resales in the off season, seems like I might be waiting a while. And on a place I only plan to live in for 3-7 years or so, I don't want to wait around forever.
I would wait till the time you find what you really like. Of course at that time, be willing to be the highest bidder as many other people will like it too. In addition, if you do not want to overpay, be flexible and realistic with your criteria.
There is no time to expect.
The right place is the right place.
You will know it when you see it.
Just don't blow it by going at it unrepresented and as a result, get taken for a ride or laughed out of negotiations by the seller's agent. No matter how many places you see, you may get educated, but are not quite an expert in the field. Be realistic if making an offer on something you really feel is the one.
Put yourself in the seller's shoes...
Wait - unless you're rich and can pay whatever it takes. We looked for over two years, and over that time learned a lot about what we had to have VS what we merely wanted. For example, we realized that a balcony with a view was more important than a second bedroom. It took a long time, but we ended up with an apartment that's perfect for us, at the right price, in the exact building we liked.
Obviously hard to be specific with a number. Personally I looked for about 9 months and then bought relatively recently. I agree there is no "mythical ideal" - you will be always making various trade-offs holding you price point fixed. It's also possible to overthink things too. I would write down 3 things you won't compromise on -- and go from there. Good luck.
I agree with what everyone has said. It's a personal thing, and the more you look, the better-educated you become about what you really must have, vs. what is negotiable on your wants list.
It took us four years to find our place, and our wants list evolved the more we looked.
i think you should wait and keep looking. it's possible youve become a little jaded since you started your search and just don't respond the same way to things that may be very similar. but you should still feel something about the place you are going to buy, you should be excited about it.
You need to look at enough apts to know what you want and have an idea of what a fair price is. We looked for 4 mos, attending multiple open houses during the 1st 2 mos. During mo 4, we only went to apts that we knew had our must have criteria (3 apts total in mo 4). We made offers on 2 of those. I don't think rates are going to shoot up any time soon. Be patient. Good luck.
I was looking in same areas for a little longer. I found that over the last eight months or so the market has gotten incredibly hot. Initially one bedrooms would linger for many months. Now a nice place that is priced right is gone right away. Over that time prices have noticeably increased and places are going for near asking or over. The unit I ended up with is not one I love, but I realized that you just have to pull the trigger as there just is not much out there and prices are going up. And there is hardly any new inventory (as you note everything you liked is now gone), so I suggest that if you have a place you like then go for it and hope you don't get sucked into a bidding war. I put in offers on about four places before I got mine.
best time to buy is Nov-Jan. if you see something during that time, you avoid dealing with the people who start buying anything in sight once it gets warmer.
I also suggest keeping an eye on 'the one that got away'. If it sits an unusual amount of time between 'in contract' to 'closed', there may be problems with the application being approved.
Let the listing agent know that you are interested in being a back up.
The apartment I bought was in limbo for 3-4 months before the Board finally rejected the previous applicant.
The seller told the agent to get a qualified buyer quick...They accepted my offer which was under the prior contract because I was willing to close as quickly as feasible and had good financials.
If you only plan on being there 3-7 years, buying is probably not a great option. We bought with a 20-year view.