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The Ultimate checklist for First-time Apartment Buyers in Manhattan

Written by igluu

In NYC on February 19th 2019

Writen by: Shery Saeed




Today’s real estate market presents a unique opportunity for first-time buyers. The prices are dropping, the interest rates are low, and the market correction is not due to a recent catastrophic event. The last four downturns in New York City were all caused by particular circumstances:



Mid 1970s – New York City was on the verge of bankruptcy

  • 1989-91 – October 19, ’87 stock market crash
  • 2001 – bubble burst, 9/11 terrorist attacks
  • 2008-09 – Financial crisis

This time New York real estate is on sale and the market correction is due to years of steady price increases. This market adjustment has created extensive opportunities for buyers – ranging from people who could afford apartments that other times were not feasible to others who can negotiate an awesome deal. It is an excellent opportunity for upgrading your lifestyle and your investments.

According to Real Deal the “ … Manhattan inventory has been piling up for three years now. And there’s an avalanche of more product about to hit. In 2019, the inventory of new condos alone is expected to hit a massive 7,900 units —well above the average for the past few years,which has hovered between 3,000 and 4,000 units, according to appraisal firm Miller Samuel.”


What you need to know when you are ready to buy:

Your Finances

  • Organize your finances – proof of employment -pay stub, credit report, two years of tax returns, and bank and investment statements.
  • It is important to get pre-approved with a lender, so you know what you can afford. They will provide you with a range and aim for the high-end.


The Neighborhood
Explore neighborhoods so you can choose the one you prefer. Each area has distinct characteristics, and in Manhattan, it starts with deciding if you would like to live uptown, midtown or downtown then Eastside or Westside. Plan to go to open houses and walk around different neighborhoods to get a feel for the vibe and keep in mind your commute.

Condo, Co-op or Cond-op
Then there is the question of condo or co-op – The significant difference is that with a condo you own the apartment and have a title but in a coop, you have shares in a building, and you don’t have your name on a deed. Co-ops have more restrictions for renting and remodeling units. Cond-ops are condominium buildings that have both commercial and residential units and the residential units managed by a co-op corporation.

Another factor to keep in mind is the monthly common (maintenance) charges. Some buildings have low purchase prices but very high common charges which often signifies that the building’sfinances are in trouble.


Co-op Financing
For co-ops, the down payment ranges from average 20%- 25%% to 50% or more for higher-end buildings. Co-op buyers get a share loan, and the stricter sublet rules eliminate the owner-tenant requirement. But co-op buyers have to abide by the liquid asset requirements for board approval. The amount can range from a few months of maintenance payments to 3 times the purchase price. The average co-op’s financial standards are much higher than the average requirements for a mortgage.


Condo Financing
For condos, the down payment is usually about 20% of the purchase price. Also, in condo transactions mortgage lenders require buildings to have healthy reserves and a low owner-tenant ratio before approving a loan. Buyers are required to have a debt-to-income ratio of around 25% – 29%.


Board Approval
For co-ops takes six to eight weeks after submitting the board application. It is four to six weeks for the board to review an application and schedule an interview. Once the board interview is conducted, it usually takes about a week to receive a decision. For Condos board approvals are faster, and it usually does not require an interview.


Sponsor Unit
In a condo building, these are apartments that are owned by the developer and are for sale for the first time. In the case of co-ops, these residences are owned by the original owner or the corporation that converted rental units into co-ops. Sponsor units do not need board approval and are favored by


The Non-Negotiable Amenities
Determine your list of must-haves in the building – elevator or walk-up, doorman, gym, view, laundry room, washer/dryer in the unit, children’s playroom, bike room, live-in super, pets allowed and balcony.


Buyer’s Agent
Buyers do not pay a commission to their agents. The seller pays the 6% commission which is divided between buyer and seller agents.


Real Estate Attorney
You will need a real estate attorney once your offer is accepted to review the contract. In New York state real estate deals attorneys are recommended. They are responsible for due diligence which includes evaluating board meeting minutes and financial statements (that provide clues to ongoing or potential expensive problems in the building,) offering plans (that include details on bylaws and risks.) Attorneys’ fees start roughly around $2,000 and increase depending on the complexity of the transactions.


Closing Costs for Buyers
Overall, closing costs for purchase prices below a million are roughly about 2% to 3% of the price, and for amounts over a million, it is about 3% to 4% of the cost. It Includes:

• Mansion tax – is a 1% tax on sales of $1 million and more and the buyer is usually responsible for the payment.

  • Title Insurance – Owner’s Policy Premium
  • Buyer’s Attorney Fee
  • Move-In Deposit
  • Title Search – Endorsements, Other Charges
  • Board Application Fees
  • Move-In Deposit – varies by building
  • Deed Recording Fees
  • Credit Check
  • Mortgage-Related Costs
    • Mortgage Recording Tax – 1.8% of mortgage amount if $500,000 or less; 1.925% of mortgage amount if over $500,000
    • Managing Agent Application & Processing Fees
    • Title Insurance – Mortgage Policy Premium
    • Bank Attorney fee
    • Mortgage Application, Credit Check & Processing
    • Appraisal fee
    • Mortgage Recording Fee – so it is part of the public record.
    • Origination Fees – roughly about 1% of the mortgage amount
Overall, it is a buyer’s market – apartments prices are down, inventory is high, and sellers are struggling and open to negotiating.

If you have any questions, please contact me at Shery at

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Another competitor has thrown a hat into New York’s crowded ring of real estate listing providers.
Igluu's new homepage Igluu, originally a platform used to find roommates in New York City, relaunched Wednesday as a residential rental and sale listing site. Its team thinks the new concept will be more successful. “I am pretty competitive and set bold goals,” Igluu founder Martin Mucha told Bisnow. “By the end of 2018, we are aiming to be the leading platform in NYC.”
The initial launch uses residential feeds, like REBNY's newly launched Residential Listing Service, RealPlus and Nestio while OLR and Spherexx will be added in September, Mucha said. While Igluu enters a crowded field dominated by competitors like, and StreetEasy, Mucha insists his platform is different. “Many of these websites are more national than they are New York-centric,” Mucha said. “Plus, there are too many restrictions on StreetEasy.” With the relaunch, Igluu’s goal is to grow a consumer-centric product with more social elements like ratings and reviews. While the present iteration is largely focused on listings, Mucha said his team is "playing with gamification theories" to give the site a better community feel and to pair users with agents based on algorithms.
“There is room for a new kid to come in and move the model from corporate monolith like StreetEasy to a more user-friendly model with brains and brawn behind it,” said New York attorney Mel Dogan, who sits on Igluu’s advisory board. “When there is disruption in the market, there is room for other players to come in and take their spot.”
StreetEasy drew criticism this year after introducing its Premier Agent platform. The service allows a broker to pay to be featured on the site as a listing’s go-to contact instead of the seller’s broker, even if that broker has an exclusive listing. The Real Estate Board of New York asked New York regulators at the time of the launch to investigate whether the program violated state law.  It garnered outright rejection from the city’s real estate community in July after it rolled out a new policy where agents had to pay $3/day for each listing. The site’s listings dropped 55% in a day, and leading agencies like Citi Habitats, The Corcoran Group and Brown Harris Stevens quit using the service and said agents would have to pay for it themselves if they continued listing.
“While I do think an advertiser should be paid, I have an issue in their gatekeeper policy of who gets access,” Compass real estate broker William Stahlke said. “The StreetEasy war has thrown off the brokerage community in many ways.” REBNY launched its RLS Aug. 1 after spending two years improving its existing feed to give members access to accurate information and monitor for stale listings. The same firms that ditched StreetEasy sped up syndication on the new REBNY platform, which was sent to 200 consumer-facing listing sites. StreetEasy did not take the RLS feed, claiming it was created to halt growth on its own site.  Mucha still faces an uphill battle. As of 10:30 a.m. Thursday, had over 41,000 rental listings and StreetEasy had over 17,000 on their respective websites. Igluu had just over 3,000. Mucha said listings are steadily increasing as the feeds syndicate to his site and expects to hit 5,000 by early Friday, gaining thousands more as brokers opt-in to Igluu through their feeds.
“ and have been online for 10 years,” he said. "Theirs is not a new product." Mucha said Igluu, like StreetEasy, will naturally have fewer listings because the company and users will monitor and flag stale listings that will get deleted. With StreetEasy stumbling after the rollout of Premier Agent and its listing fees, some in New York’s real estate community see where Igluu has a path to be the market leader. “There’s a myriad of players trying to take StreetEasy’s space,” Stahlke said. “Who that will be, I don’t know. Who is the best? I would say Igluu.”
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New York, NY Every year, thousands of young people move to New York City to study, work an internship, or begin a new job. However, the majority find it difficult, stressful, and time consuming to get reasonable housing for their mid to long term stay. In a city with millions of rentals and people to connect with, finding a place and roommate remains a big challenge. is a community-oriented platform that helps students, young professionals, and foreigners find rooms, roommates, and broker-free apartments in the city. Whether you need summer housing, to sublease a place, or want to sublet, Igluu provides solutions for all. A trusted and sophisticated system which makes the moving process this simple for everyone has not existed, and Igluu is proud to be the first. incorporates high-end technology with an attractive and innovative brand that New Yorkers will love and want for the ultimate housing experience. Users from all around the globe have discovered how easy and efficient Igluu is in their search for the ideal place and roommate.

On Igluu, students and young professionals are able to explore each others mutual friends, interests, social media handles and chat directly on the platform. Users can connect directly with people who go to their universities or work at the same company. By providing quick access to all of these options, users are better informed and can make better decisions on who they prefer to live with. The process is unbelievably simple.

Basically, Igluu’s platform provides an innovative system that ensures a fast and hassle-free search, which had not been possible until now. Less restrictions and more accessibility have expanded its market, bringing more users every day that choose Igluu as their main housing source. For this reason, units on Igluu’s platform are receiving the highest exposure ever due to the constant flow of users that have opted for Igluu’s services as a result of their experience with Igluu’s optimal performance. 

By introducing the use of artificial intelligence (AI), Igluu is revolutionizing the roommate and apartment search process, enabling for it to attain the highest level of first-rate performance. Using AI (i.e machine learning, pattern recognition, algorithmic coding, data analytics, etc.) will enhance matchmaking opportunities amongst Igluu users looking for the most compatible roommates and places to live. Furthermore, AI will significantly enhance business for property owners and management companies whom work with Igluu. Providing the highest quality data allows for companies to be better informed and efficiently target the right tenants.

Igluu’s software developer, (U+), sees enormous potential in Igluu through its usage of advanced technology.

“There is an ultimate value of cutting edge new technologies, advanced analytics and excellent user experience for all parties involved in traditional real estate business, both commercial and residential. With Igluu there is a unique opportunity to bring our solution to the hottest market in NYC, combining social media and big data analytics, natural language processing and eventually our proprietary artificial intelligence and virtual reality solution,” said Jan Beranek, founder of U+ and CTO at Igluu.

Igluu is the modern age platform young professionals, brokers and property owners have been waiting for. Strong strategic partnerships with hundreds of universities, major youth organizations and social influencers enables Igluu to consistently access and communicate with millions of people, hundreds of thousands of which are looking for roommates and apartments directly in the city every year. Its partnerships with many of the primary management companies in the city provide its users with a database of more than 5,000 units, comfortably meeting the demand. These units are located throughout the boroughs of the city, and many are within walking distance of some of the city’s most populated schools. Also, the database is re-filtered daily, ensuring users they are only viewing available units.

Igluu CMO Zack Gaylis believes Igluu has positioned itself for great success.

“We’re constantly exploring ways to get creative in combining social networking and real estate. Our partners have joined us in this movement, allowing for us to connect with our target market in so many different and exciting ways. Not only do we have a lot of inventory, but many of the units are in desired locations around universities and big companies. It gives us an incredible opportunity to grow our community, our brand and certainly to scale.”

By leveraging technology to provide users with the most updated and relevant information, people are connecting more efficiently, viewing listings more adequately and better comprehending fair market value. While users and renters are benefiting from Igluu, management companies and brokers are actually profiting. As Igluu users connect with each other more efficiently, they are looking for apartments much earlier, resulting in higher transaction rates and reduced vacancies. Igluu ensures that units are being taken care of, but also procures to increase a positive reputation with the property owners it works with, boosting the demand for their listings and further growing their businesses. 

Igluu has partnered with companies who share its vision of revolutionizing the real estate industry. Working with one of the leading lease guaranty  insurance providers on the east coast allows Igluu to grant most of its users the ability to secure the apartment of their choice. Within just hours of review and a one-time fee, most applicants are able to get the apartments they love and rid themselves of apartment-hunting anxiety.

The likelihood of receiving guaranteed lease insurance has immediately elevated Igluu’s reputation, comforting many people who are either put off by or forced to pay significantly high prepay penalties. Conversely, landlords benefit just as much, knowing the rent is guaranteed and shifting their attention to other potential tenants. With its extensive inventory and trusted insurance provider, Igluu has opened a whole new market for students, young professionals and foreigners looking to live in the city.

Along with a secure network of companies that share its vision is key to the development of the company. Igluu’s growing brand awareness and positive association has resulted well for its partnered property owners and management companies, driving more PR to their buildings and units.

In an exciting new collaboration with one of its partners, Igluu is creating a massive buzz around the industry and amongst its community. After reaching one million users on its platform, Igluu is promising to offer one user free rent for an entire year in a luxury apartment. As its community continues to grow with promotions like this, Igluu’s partners will continue receiving strong recognition on its website.

What distinguishes Igluu from the rest is that it has built a platform that caters to all parties of the rental business. Whether its renters, brokers, property owners or management companies, each receives value from Igluu. People finally have a resource for legitimately connecting with roommates they can call friends and brokers have a resource to bolster their client services with. Meanwhile, management companies and landlords have a fast-operating and reliable platform to promote their vacancies.

Although the real estate industry remains incredibly prosperous, especially in the city, there remains a significant appetite for reliability and transparency. Igluu is transforming the industry through its integration of advanced technology to better connect people with each other and apartments, while improving the overall market efficiency. As more Millennials continue migrating to major cities like NYC, Igluu is serving as their guidance.

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