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Advice for buying a home in NYC when you have a young family

If you’re a young family or just starting one, the decisions you make when buying a home in NYC can have a long lasting impact both short and long term. While ones financial resources may vary, there are some universal considerations that most young families should consider that could impact the quality of life today and in the future as your your family grows.


Do look for under market properties that might need some work

A couple strategies here include searching for the least expensive apartment located in a terrific building which may have no view, but has appealing amenities in a good location. Another strategy is to seek a unit which may require some work or updating. With this type of unit, you may be able to adjust the floor plan at bit and secure a larger space for less. Of course, this will require some patience and planning depending upon how much work needs to be done to the apartment to prepare it for family life.

Do favor floor plans that allow for growth

Obviously, space is a premium in NYC, but even in a tight space, a good floor plan can make a real difference. For example, a dining room that could be divided into a future bedroom allows for changes as your children grow without a lot of disruption.

Do look at smaller buildings and non-doorman buildings

Often overlooked are smaller co-ops or even condo buildings with limited services such as part-time or no doorman buildings. The units themselves may have larger layouts such as floor through style (front to back) and may be a flight or two up the stairs, but your monthly common costs will most likely be lower.

Do explore areas of New York City you wouldn’t normally consider

Follow the subway lines and expand your search a few stops beyond what you were originally considering. Areas like Jackson Heights, Woodside or Elmhurst offer gorgeous neighborhoods and larger layouts near major subway lines with plenty of retail and support services nearby. Prices could be 25-50% less than trendier areas like Long Island City or Astoria for example.

Do keep your costs down and anticipate increases

Maintenance charges or common charges go up year after year. The goal should be to start with low manageable common charges and avoid surprise assessments as much as you reasonably can. Scrutinize building financials and inquire about the possibility of major future assessments and the overall condition of a building. Has the boiler been replaced or upgraded? Has the roof been repaired or replaced? Has the building been converted from expensive heating oil to cheaper natural gas?


Do not get an ARM loan

You have your hands full already managing your budget, being prepared for unexpected costs. Eliminate financial surprises with a 30 year mortgage which provide you with financial consistency over the long term, particularly now while interest rates remain at historic lows.

Do not speculate and think long term

Think long term about your purchase. Speculation that you can flip your home in 3 years time, uproot, and move in the hopes of making a hefty profit should not be your decision making focus. You’re investing in a neighborhood, building relationships, tapping into local services and providing consistency and stability for you and your children.

Do not be lured by the well staged home

It’s a fact that sellers will want to present their home in the best possible condition. This may mean storing half or three quarters of their possessions off site to present a comfortable and “spacious” home when marketing it for sale. Look carefully at the storage options within the home. Where are you going to put the stroller? Determine if the space is adequate for your things with some room to grow!

Do not be emotional

Have a list of home must-haves going into your search, and don’t be drawn by the superficial and cosmetic in your decision-making. Stick to your budget, and don’t overextend yourself.

Do not be blindsided by current tax abatements

If you’re looking at new construction there may be very attractive tax abatements that result in low or sometimes no taxes for a given period of time. That’s great while it lasts, but most abatements have an end date. Make sure you find out what the taxes will be when the abatement ends.

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When starting out as a family, your first home and the community you reside is where many family firsts will occur - your child’s first words, first steps, first day at school. So many memories and milestones that last a lifetime. Your home needs to function at its greatest potential to provide comfort for you and your children. Think of your home as a family partner working to support you so you can focus on parenting, providing and enjoying your early family years.

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Salvatore ScamardoReal Estate Salesperson, REALTOR®

Sal Scamardo is an Emmy Award-winning producer with over 25 years of experience at major film studios, TV Networks, record companies and independent film production companies including Twentieth Century Fox, Universal/USA Films (now Focus Featur...

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