1. If you are in the happy position of being able to buy in NYC, your first step is to contact you bank and get a Pre-Approval Letter which is a letter from your bank saying they are prepared to back you with a mortgage up to $X and they will charge you Y% interest. You are not in the game until you have this letter unless of course you are buying outright. A letter which specififes your liquid assets may also be necessary, especially if you are buying into a co-op.
2. Once you have your pre-approval letter you can set your budget and then go and scout neighborhoods where your budget will let you buy. This process is not quick and can take up to a year.
3. Simultaneously ask around your friends for a referral to a good broker. Unlike the situation with rental brokers, brokers who handle sales are a hardier breed and need both experience and a good track record to stay in the game. Research their previous sales to make sure they measure up. If there is anything special about your circumstances you will need a broker to guide you. Being a first time buyer in the jungle that is NYC real estate is a special circumstance.
4.Make yourself familiar with the upside/downside of both condos an co-ops. Condos will usually be newer, you can sublet easily and have more amenities but you won’t find too many in TriBeCa or Brooklyn . Co-ops will often be beautiful old buildings, they’re a nightmare to sub-let and can have co-op boards full of cranky people who set a high bar for buyers. Check out possible return on investment for both types of buys, there are swings and roundabouts with both.
5. Research the areas you are interested in, for e.g. how much stock is available and prices over last couple of years. Be eagle eyed about the cost/benefit of different parts of NYC. Use quarterly reports issued by some brokerages to get your data.
6. Make pals with as many brokers as you can and get into the loop for gossip about apartments about to hit the market. this type of informal information is often the key to making a good buy.
7. Always be ready to move fast if you see what you want. Your pre-approval letter and your excellent credit score are your entry requirements to being able to start a sale process.
8. Be ready to fork out additional money for monthly maintenance fees on whatever you buy, application fees, moving fees, and the cost of hiring a real estate attorney and other suddena nd unforseen fees to close the sale for you. Know you’ll have these costs and plan ahead otherwise it’s all a big shock.
9. There is only one way to buy in NYC, slowly and with a lot of research and patience. Good Luck. See here for a more detailed and very helpful checklist of how to successfully buy in NYC : Detailed How To Buy In NYC