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5 Questions to Ask Before Buying a Condo in New York

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Finding the right condo can be difficult. In New York City, you might find you’ll need to jump through hoops and over some red tape to find your dream abode. Just as you would in any city, you’ll need to ask a few questions before applying for a mortgage in the Big Apple.

1. Has the Condo’s Building Ever Experienced a Pest Problem?

Pests are prevalent in buildings in many cities. In a city like New York City, they’re practically omnipresent. It’s important to find out if your potential condo (or the building) has ever experienced rat, mice, roach or bed bug problems. All four pests are issues in older New York City Buildings.

Start by asking your realtor if the building has experienced problems in the past. According to Brick Underground, you should also ask how the problem was handled and how long it took to fix the problem.

Regardless of your real estate’s answer, you can even do a little digging on your own. Look for shredded paper (evidence of mice and rats), check for brown spots on the mattress underneath the sheets (evidence of bed bugs) and look around for any dead bugs.

2. How Old Is the Condo’s Building?

Both brand-new and older buildings have their own problems. Older buildings could have structural damage or pests. Brand-new buildings are difficult to assess because they’re not finished. According to Brick Underground, make sure to ask your realtor the following questions regarding brand-new buildings:

  • When is the building expected to be finished?
  • What are the projected age groups of the other tenants?
  • Will there be construction noise?
  • What businesses will be on the ground level?
  • What types of amenities will be included?
  • Has the developer had any past issues?
  • Can I see the final development plans?

3. How Long Does the Condominium Approval Process Take?

The approval process varies greatly from building to building—especially in New York City. Each condo has a board that will either approve or reject your application to live in the building. According to the Huffington Post, the process is similar to the mortgage loan process.

The board will look at reference letters, financial documents, work history and credit history. You’ll need to pay the appropriate application fees, and you may need to interview in front of the board, too.

4. When Can I Renovate?

If you’re buying a fixer-upper, you’ll want to find out just how soon you’ll be able to execute any improvements. Condo boards have specific rules on whether or not you can renovate certain areas of your condo.

They also have rules on when you can renovate. According to the Huffington Post, some boards only allow you to renovate during summer months or between certain hours of the day. On the plus side, only allowing daytime renovations means you won’t need to deal with noisy construction from your neighbors.

5. Can I Sublet My Condo?

You’d think that if you own a condominium, you have the right to decide to rent it out to someone else. In New York City, you’d be wrong. Many condo boards retain the right to decide whom you’re allowed to rent your condo to—and if you’re allowed to rent it at all.

Your potential tenant might need to go through similar background and financial checks that you underwent to get approved by the board. According to Cooperator, there are specific times that the condo board might be more likely to allow subletting. You’re more likely to get approved if you’re subletting to only one tenant for shorter periods of time.

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