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6 tips for purchasing your first property

Leaving behind the rental market in favor of home ownership is a major decision, especially in New York City. When competition is high, buying a house or condo can not only be expensive, but it can also take time.

If you have never purchased property before, entering the market can be a bit overwhelming. However, making sure your expectations are realistic and considering the following tips can help remove some of the frustration involved in buying a home.

1. Improve your credit score if you need to. If you are thinking about buying a condo, home or other type of property and you don't know your credit score, now is the time to find out. A bad - or even mediocre - credit score cannot be repaired overnight. The sooner you start improving your score, the sooner you can be approved for a loan.

2. Make saving a priority. If you haven't been focused on saving, now is the time start. While you won't be expected to pay cash for a property, it is wise to have at least 20 percent on hand to put down immediately. Sellers will take you more seriously, and you'll be better off in the long run.

3. Consider getting preapproved. There are a few benefits to being preapproved for a loan. The primary benefit is that you will know what you can afford. With preapproval, you can target homes within your price range rather than finding out the hard way that you can't afford your dream property.

4. Do your research. It is important to take time to understand what you are getting yourself into with any given property. Learn the differences between condos and co-ops. Research the history of a building you are considering moving into. Figure out if necessary updates will push a property out of your price range. Spend time in neighborhoods you are interested in. Doing each of these things and more will help ensure there are no negative surprises down the road.

5. Prepare for disappointment. It is a scenario that has happened to many New Yorkers. You find the perfect apartment only to get outbid by someone else. Or your dream condo ends up needing serious, costly repairs, making it just too expensive to justify. Falling in love with a property only to have it ripped out of your hands is heartbreaking - which is why it is best to avoid getting attached to any particular space. Keeping some emotional distance can help you pick yourself up and move on when disappointment strikes.

6. Have an experienced team on your side. It can be extremely helpful to have both a real estate agent and a lawyer on your side. Both your agent and your lawyer can help explain what to expect from the home-buying process. Your lawyer will also be able to review your paperwork, making you're your best interests are protected and that there aren't any red flags that could end up haunting you in the future.

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