Ask Away. The Art of Asking Questions as a Prospective Buyer.
December 9, 2015
While there’s always more to learn about the intricacies of purchasing and selling real estate in New York City, there’s just as much to learn about the individual apartments and homes you’ll view as you move through your search for the perfect home or investment property.
While having a seasoned buyer’s agent on your side at the appointments can help, it never hurts to be bold and asks as many questions as you can before, during, and after the appointment. Whether the listing is for sale by owner or being shown to you by a real estate agent representing the owner, it’s not guaranteed that all of your questions will be answered, or that the questions that are fielded will be met with helpful and informative responses -–– nonetheless, ask away.
As you’re viewing the apartment for the first time, remember that the person showing you the property is privy to a wealth of information that neither the building specs; the apartment itself; or the accompanying show sheet and listing details can speak to. While we’ve previously written regarding the value of your intuition when deciding on an apartment, it’s important to make note of one of the best ways to provide your heart and mind with more materials that may help your intuition key in on whether an apartment may or may not be the best fit for you: asking questions.
For newer developments, there’s a good deal of information that can be garnered through inquiries directed toward the building’s construction and development: when was construction completed; what else has the developer built; what other projects does the developer have planned? While the broker for the apartment may not have all of this information ready for you on hand, it’s likely that they’ll be able to get this information for you.
If you’re able to find out what else the developer has built, you’ll have a building to compare to the one that you’re considering purchasing in. Visiting the building that’s already been completed (and seeing any available apartments in the building) may give you a better idea concerning the quality of the developer’s craftsmanship. If you’re able to find out what projects the developer has planned, you may found out that it’s best to hold off on purchasing in the building you're considering, as the project on the horizon may provide a better living and/or investment opportunity for you once it’s completed.
While these questions are only the tip of the iceberg in terms of the due diligence required before purchasing an apartment in a new development, the key here lies with the importance of asking a few questions to start with; as once you do, you’ll be surprised how one question can lead to another, and another, and another; and another –– and as you ask more questions, gain more knowledge concerning the market and information relating to the particular apartment, then you’ll be that much more prepared to determine whether the apartment is the right place for you.
Although the term “Pre-war” gets tossed and thrown around, about, across, and over the New York City real estate market with the speed, persistence, and tenacity of this year’s New York City Marathon Winner, Stanley Biwott (2:10:41 – that’s slightly over 5 minutes per mile ––– 26.2 times), there’s as many inquiries to be made regarding older apartments as there are apartments designated as pre-war. Though it’s not possible to create an exhaustive list here, one of the best approaches for generating quality questions to ask when viewing older buildings is to put yourself in the shoes of the owner.
If you were him or her, Why would you list your apartment for the listing price; Why would you want to sell the apartment; What offer would you be willing to accept for the apartment; Why did you decide to purchase the apartment; Why have you decided to sell the apartment now?
As you put yourself in the owner’s position, you can begin to better understand they’re motivations for selling, and use that information to help gauge whether to make an offer, and if so, how low or high of an offer to make.
As for older buildings, while you’ll want to hire a home inspector for a townhouse, single, or multi-family house purchase, the fact that you may hire an inspector at a later date should not discourage you from asking questions about the home’s quality and construction at the time of the appointment. While you may receive answers such as, “The house is being sold as is . . . that’s a questions for a home inspector . . . (or) bring your contractor,” you never know what information you can get by asking.
Overall, if a question crosses your mind, ask it. If you’re afraid that your question may seem odd, offend the owner, or not have an answer, feel free to ask your buyer’s agent first. And as always, if you have any questions regarding the process of purchasing or selling property here in New York City, feel free to reach out to Curlew New York ––– we’d be happy to hear from you : - ).