The thought of buying our first apartment in NYC makes me so excited, but as it will likely be the biggest purchase my heartmate and I will likely ever make in our lives, it also gives me cold sweats! To be quite frank, I went into the process of apartment hunting without knowing much about New York City real estate; I just dove head first into it all. It’s safe to say it’s been a learning experience so far! During my hunt I’ve been sharing mini tours of the apartments on my Instagram Stories and I’ve received lots of messages from you guys saying you too are looking, or hoping to start looking, for your first apartments, and what advice did I have. So, in partnership with Uber, I wanted to share a post with what I’ve learned about being a first-time buyer in NYC. House hunting is one of those really exciting but also stressful situations in life, especially in NYC! We’ve loved being able to grab an Uber and use all the in-app functionalities – such as their Share My Trip feature – that make their rides safer and more comfortable and have helped us in our apartment hunt.1. Think about what is important to you but also be flexible
If I’m honest, we went into our apartment hunt process with a lot of hard lines about what we did and didn’t want. However, as we started to view different apartments we quickly gained a sense of what was really important for us in a home. We were too quick to write off certain units and ended up not even bothering to even view lots of apartments at the start because they were missing one thing we were looking for. I’ve learned that often it is great to take a chance and see somewhere that is perhaps missing one thing but attracts you in another way because you can end up being pleasantly surprised by a space. You never truly know if you will like an apartment until you actually physically walk the unit and the building. Places I’ve thought I’d love from the listing had me wanting to turn and walk out from the moment I stepped inside, and visa versa!2. Look into the monthlies and not just the sale price
You will find the first question any property website will ask you is to put in a maximum and minimum price. If, like us, you are likely getting a mortgage for your first home, so the total monthly cost (mortgage and monthly building payments – tax, amenities etc.) is just as important as the listed sale price. So, make sure you don’t fixate on the sale price alone but also take a really close look at monthlies. In NYC these can take up a big chunk of what you can afford each month. If you manage to pick up an apartment with tax abetment, or find a building that happens to have low maintenance or common charges, you might be surprised how far your budget stretches vs. buildings with higher monthlies.3. Get an Uber between open houses
My heartmate and I are always using Uber to get us around the city during our open house tours on Sunday. The apartments we were most interested in kept being scheduled in the same time bracket. You need to act fast in NYC, so we always wanted to be sure that we had enough time to spend looking around each apartment and probably absorb the space. Taking an Uber between listings meant we arrived quicker (avoiding those weekend subway delays – hurrah!) but also in a clearer and calmer state of mind. Often, we would meet at the first apartment (as he often goes running on Sundays and I go to a gym class), and we us the Uber Share Your Ride safety feature. It shares your location with a trusted friend or family member – in my case, my husband – so that he knew when I was going to arrive. Getting a car between houses also means we get to see more of the local streets and neighborhood, which is so important when you are considering buying an apartment in the area.4. Search yourself and see a wide range of apartments
Make sure you look at listings online yourself and don’t just wait for your broker to send you listings. We were so surprised how many apartments we have been interested in that wouldn’t fit the original criteria we gave our broker. However, when we saw the views or the architectural details, we would consider it – so make sure you dive in and set up email alerts. Like I said, you have to be quick so the more eyeballs on those listings the better to make sure your dream apartment doesn’t slip through the cracks!5. Measure your current space before seeing other apartments
Having the measurements of your current apartment to hand is so helpful. We often looked at an empty space and thought it felt so big until we measured it, looked at what we currently lived in, and saw that it wasn’t in fact as big as the photos or floor plan made it seem. We even have all the measurements for our bed and sofa, so when we are in an open house we can pull out a tape measure and see how our bed fits. Trust me, in NYC things like that matter because it’s not always a given the bed will fit. #KeepingItReal
Do you have any advice for house hunting? Let me know what I missed below!
// Photography by Will Taylor, this post was brought to in partnership with Uber, thank you for supporting our partners who make our content possible.