During StreetEasy Buyers Week, we’re rounding up insider tips for NYC buyers on a variety of topics from those who live and breath this city’s home buying process every day: real estate agents.

Today’s question:

What’s a common mistake many NYC first-time buyers make?

The advice theme here? It’s all about your financials.

Get Preapproved

“Not getting preapproved for a mortgage prior to their search.  Most buyers don’t understand exactly how much they can afford, what their credit score is, and how their income, employment history, and credit rating can affect their loan amount & rate.”

Takk Yamaguchi, Compass

“Biggest mistake is they don’t get preapproved for a mortgage. Potential buyers think they know what they can afford based on their current rental payments. Just because they can afford a monthly payment doesn’t mean they’ll actually get a loan. Get preapproved before wasting precious time.”

Bernard Klein, Blooming Sky

“We see the #1 mistake first-time buyers make is when buyers begin their search without really knowing what they can afford, what their real budget is and/or how much a bank is willing to lend them. We have seen buyers fall in love with properties that end up out being of their price range. A buyer’s search criteria will inevitably change a bit as they get into different properties and see different finishes, layouts in various locations but their affordability generally will not.”

Joseph Dima & Josiane Lysius, Corcoran

Pad Your Budget and Time Frame

“Each property has potential hidden costs, so make sure you have a “hidden-cost fund” for things that may go wrong. Things that cannot be addressed immediately typically don’t get addressed, you just learn to live with it and that’s not necessarily a good home ownership maintenance policy.”

Jacqueline Edwards, Perfect Quarters

“They miscalculate how long the process takes from finding the place you want to getting the deal closed. Compared to many markets it seems bank deals, co-op boards and just sheer complexity of the deal in NYC creates a lengthy transaction timeline. Some buyers are in rentals and need to be out by a certain time and these miscalculations cause anxiety and heartache.”

Michael Napolitano, RE/Max