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Purchase Process



How to Purchase a Townhouse in Manhattan


  • Start out with a neighborhood choice and a budget in mind.

  • Consult your real estate broker, mortgage broker and/or banker regarding a mortgage. (If you need to know how much you can afford, find out BEFORE looking.)

  • Select a real estate attorney, someone who specializes in Manhattan real estate. Suburban lawyers or lawyers who specialize in other fields can spell trouble or delay.

  • Discuss with your real estate agent a negotiating strategy and make an offer. In New York City, offers are submitted verbally, and negotiations proceed back and forth over the telephone and may be confirmed in writing until all aspects of the sale have been agreed to—price, amount to be financed, occupancy date, closing date, disposition of lighting fixtures, etc.

  • Accepting the offer: There is no legal obligation between buyer and seller until a contract is signed. In a hot market, this process should move quickly.

  • Gain information about the building you’ve chosen—its financial and physical condition (house inspections, lease terms, etc.). Your agent and your lawyer will guide you in this process and your attorney will go through the “due diligence process”.

  • Going to contract: The seller’s attorney prepares the contract and forwards it by messenger to your attorney. Both attorneys consult and agree on all points.

  • Signing the contract: You sign it first, then it’s sent back to the seller’s attorney to obtain the seller’s signature. A down payment is expected at this point—usually 10% of the contract price, which is held in the seller’s attorney’s escrow account.

  • Complete the mortgage application, if any.

  • The bank that is providing the mortgage will arrange to have the building appraised.

  • Closing is arranged by the seller’s and buyer’s attorneys, in conjunction with the lender.

  • The entire process can take between 1.5 to 5 months.

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