Common mistakes when buying a Big Apple co-op

If you are a first-time buyer of a New York City co-op, the buying process can be quite intimidating. It's almost enough to make you settle for a lifetime of renting.

Before you give up in frustration, consider whether you are making one or more of these common mistakes.

Not having a broker

Brokers are either free or low-cost to sellers, and they advocate for your interests. The seller will have their broker negotiating on their behalf, so why handicap yourself?

Your mortgage pre-approval letter falls short of the mark

If you have to return to your lender for a new letter that reflects the price you need to pay to grab your dream home, another buyer could beat you to that home. Your letter should reflect your maximum borrowing capacity so that you don't have to do this.

Assuming the co-op board acceptance is a shoe-in

There can be many reasons why a board votes "nay" on your application, including purchase prices so low that they fear for their own property values. Never assume that you will be approved, no matter how well you think your interview went.

Your financials aren't as strong as you thought

Sure, you've got a great job, but people loose jobs due to downsizing and a multitude of other reasons all the time. The economy appears rosy on the surface but is actually quite volatile underneath. Do you have the liquidity to cover a sudden shortfall of your cash flow? If not, you may need to lower your expectations.

Not retaining a real estate attorney

New York City real estate law is as tangled as a Gordian knot. Skimping on costs can cause your co-op ownership dreams to crash and burn.