With spring’s arrival, many Long Islanders will start looking to buy a new home.
We spoke with local realtors who offered tips for prospective homebuyers to guide them through the daunting process — for first-time buyers or those looking to downsize or upsize.
The season usually starts in April because it’s warmer and the timing’s right to get children enrolled in school by September. And it’s best to start searching now since supply is low and demand is high.
“There is so little inventory, you had a lot of pent-up buyer frustration last fall because a lot of people got shut out,” says James Izzo, licensed real estate broker and owner of Weichert Realtors Cow Harbor Realty in Northport.
Patrick McCooey, a licensed associate real estate broker at the Garden City and Manhasset offices of Douglas Elliman Real Estate, stresses that it “could take 90-plus days to get the mortgage commitment and get closed, so you don’t want to feel that pressure” by waiting until the last minute.
It’s absolutely crucial to “get pre-approved” for a home loan, because if you find a home you like and you’re not pre-approved, you’re going to miss out,” says Izzo.
STICK WITH A BUDGET
Some buyers fall in love with a home and don’t factor in all the potential costs involved, including property taxes and commuting. That’s why it’s important to “stick with a budget,” says Izzo. When home buyers don’t stick to a sensible budget, they often end up buying a house they can’t afford.
“You don’t want buyer’s remorse on a home,” he warns.
BUY THE NEIGHBORHOOD
Realtors we interviewed all stressed how important it is for buyers to select not only a home they like, but a neighborhood they like.
“If you can buy a home in an area for significantly less than a similar home somewhere else, there is usually a good reason,” says McCooey.
“Schools, commute and safety are generally the biggest factors affecting price. If you are not interested in the schools and don’t commute you might consider taking advantage of the price discrepancy in another area that doesn’t offer those things.”
Izzo has often seen people buy homes and quickly become unhappy – “not so much because of the house but because of what’s around them,” he says. “The house is only, to me, a third of the equation.”
“If you buy a nice, big home you love and you’re in your car two hours in each direction,” he says, “you’re not really enjoying your home.”
“Everyone should do their own due diligence,” he continues. “There are a lot of good websites for all different categories, whether it be proximity to shopping or proximity to transportation.”
He also suggests calling the local police precinct to see what the crime rate is. But he adds: “Nothing substitutes driving around and looking at the areas and looking at neighborhoods and seeing where the shopping is and seeing how far the railroad is.”
“When working with a buyer, I will ask them as many questions as I can to find the right fit for their needs,” says Jamie Gorman, a licensed real estate salesperson at Charles Rutenberg Realty in Plainview. But, if you’re looking for a home, it’s best to be realistic.
“I always tell them that you can’t have it all and you have to prioritize what is most important to you and your needs,” she says.