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Features

The Sherry Netherland, #1501 (Douglas Elliman) The Sherry Netherland, #1501 (Douglas Elliman)
Once an offer is accepted, buyers typically have a relatively short window of time between the offer’s acceptance and the closing date to get all their paperwork in order. During this time, which is generally 40 to 50 days, the onus is on the buyer to secure financing while also arranging to have the unit inspected, appraised, and insured. To ensure you don’t end up failing to secure financing before an established closing date, most agents recommend that you get pre-approved for a mortgage before you start bidding.

Pre-Approved Versus Pre-Qualified

First, it is important to understand the difference between being pre-approved and pre-qualified. A pre-qualification simply is an estimate to determine how much you can spend on a home purchase, but it is not a guarantee that the lender will approve financing. By contrast, a pre-approval entails a credit check. In essence, if you’ve been pre-approved, the lender has already committed to lending you a certain amount of money for your home purchase. In most cases, pre-approvals are capped (e.g., at 90 days) and in all instances, a pre-approval is not a final loan approval. You will only be able to finalize your loan once you’ve put in a bid and had an appraisal carried out on the property you intend to purchase.

Shopping Around for Lenders

While you may want to talk to a loan officer at your local bank, in most cases, when you go on the market for a mortgage, you’ll want to shop around since your local bank may not have the best loan rates. There are two ways you can do this. First, you can simply do the research yourself. After all, information on lenders’ rates is now readily available online. Still, you might not be able to easily determine which lenders will offer you the best interest rates based on your credit history. Even if you can do this research, it may come with a downside, since making multiple hard credit inquiries can negatively impact your credit rating. For this reason, many people elect to work with a mortgage broker instead.

Like other types of brokers, mortgage brokers essentially serve as a bridge or intermediary. In this case, they serve as a bridge between buyers and lenders. The advantages of working with a broker is twofold. First, they know the lending landscape inside and out and will be able to quickly help you identify which lenders will likely work with you and which ones will offer the best rates. Second, they can help you anticipate all the paperwork you’ll need to get pre-approved. Also, bear in mind that while brokers are compensated, in most cases, the broker’s fee is paid by the lender, not client, so working with a broker will not necessarily increase your closing cost.

The Documentation Required to Get Pre-Approved

To get pre-approved for a loan, you’ll need to assemble a lot of paperwork. Be prepared to assemble the following items:

Proof of income: To get a loan, you’ll need proof that you are employed. If you’re an employee, this will mean printing out W-2 statements for the past two years (to be on the safe side, you might want to go further back). Also print out pay stubs for the past twelve months and proof of any additional sources of incomes, including alimony. If you’re a freelancer, expect lenders to ask for a lot more documentation. As a rule of thumb, be prepared to bring your 1099s for the past three to five years and bank statements that show how much money you have flowing into your account every month. Whether you’re a salaried employee or freelancers, you’ll also need to bring tax returns for the past two years, but once again, if you’re a freelancer, be prepared to go further back (e.g., up to five years).

Employment verification: In some cases, lenders will go one step further to verify your income. They may ask for employment verification letter (this will need to be obtained from your human resources office) and they may even ask for information in order to contact your current employer or employers directly.

Proof of assets: In addition to proving that you have money coming in on a monthly basis, you’ll need to be transparent about your assets. To begin, be prepared to print out your bank statements and investment account statements to offer evidence that you do have a down payment. If your down payment is a gift from a family member or friend, you may also be asked to provide a letter proving this is the case. While this may sound intrusive, lenders will want proof that you haven’t taken out a loan that is not yet showing up in your credit history to acquire a down payment. If you don’t have a large down payment on hand and need a bit more help, you may be eligible for a HomeFirst Down Payment Assistance. This program offers loans up to $40,000 to New Yorkers who make 80% or less of the area median income.
Proof of service (for VA loans): There are a few loans options that do not require a high down payment, and this includes VA loans for U.S. veterans, service members, and not-remarried spouses. Of course, to ensure the VA loan program is not abused, it does require a bit of additional paperwork. If you’re seeking a VA loan and you’re no longer active, you’ll need a copy of your DD214, which is otherwise known as a Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty. If you are still active, you’ll need a statement of service from your commanding officer. You’ll also need a completed request for a Certificate of Eligibility (form 26-1880) from the Department of Veterans Affairs and a completed Certificate of Eligibility. While this may sound a bit overwhelming, many lenders specialize in working with veterans and well positioned to walk veterans through these additional steps.

Credit Score: While some loans are available to people with lower levels of credit, these loans are difficult to obtain (nearly impossible to obtain in New York City) and typically come with high interest rates. As a rule of thumb, in the current market, your credit score should be at least 620, but if you want options, you should at least have a FICO score above 700.

Other documentation: To complete a credit check, your lender will need also need a copy of your driver’s license and social security number and may ask for a copy of your passport.
While assembling paperwork is by no means the most pleasant part of anyone’s home search, it is a necessary step, and the sooner you start, the better. Statistically, buyers who go on the market pre-approved are far less likely see their deals fall through. This is primarily a matter of timing. Once pre-approved, the underwriting process generally only takes one to two weeks. If you haven’t been pre-approved the financing process can take over a month and in some cases, this results in bidders failing to arrange financing before the agreed upon closing date.

Available NYC Listings Priced to Sell

955-Fifth-Avenue-01 955 Fifth Avenue, #13B (Compass)
Upper East Side co-ops
Fifth Avenue apartments
955-Fifth-Avenue-02
From the Listing: Now priced to sell, captivating unobstructed Central Park Views abound from this exquisite and pristine 8-room apartment. With an extensive renovation recently completed, this contemporary 4-bedroom residence is ready to welcome you home. Bathed in sunlight via west and east exposures, the collection of gracious rooms are perfectly inviting. The expansive living room and grand study each feature wood burning fireplaces. With clear eastern views to the Carlyle Hotel, the eat-in kitchen has perfect morning light and the view of the Carlyle from the adjacent dining room is even better at night. Outfitted for a chef, the professional series appliances include Bertazzoni range, Liebherr refigerator, Miele speed oven & dishwasher. There are oak floors throughout and the stylish new bathrooms feature a subtle combination of tile and stone. All plumbing and air conditioning units are new. See floor plan and full details here.

Fifth Avenue co-ops The Sherry Netherland, #1501 (Douglas Elliman)
781-Fifth-Avenue-01
Upper East Side co-ops
From the Listing: Harness the magic combination of romance, originality, location and drama found at the Sherry Netherland, where elegance and exoticism, both flamboyant and reserved, permeate through this one-of-a-kind mixed used tower, rising up in asymmetrical form from, hands down, the best corner of Manhattan, 59th Street, and Fifth Avenue. This beautifully renovated and masterfully conceived 15th-floor home combines a functional and gracious layout, including a sizable living room, lighting by Modulightor, hardware by The Nanz Company and exquisite carpentry. While both the living room and second bedroom/library face west to Central Park, the primary suite looks out to the east and north. It encompasses a large bathroom with his and her sinks, a spa-like shower area and two custom closets. See floor plan and full details here.

211-East-51st-Street-01 211 East 51st Street, #4E (Douglas Elliman)
Midtown East condos
Midtown condos
From the Listing: This spacious, south-facing residence offers proximity to world-class shops, restaurants, vast entertainment options, theaters, as well as the affluent cul-de-sacs of Sutton and Beekman Places. The kitchen features Cyprus limestone tile floors, Calacatta gold marble slab countertops, light rift-cut white oak lower cabinetry, high-gloss lacquer upper cabinetry, Bosch oven and cook top, Bosch dishwasher and microwave, and a Lieber refrigerator. The expansive primary bedroom has dedicated home office/den/nursery space. Baths include sleek walls of luminescent blue-gray clay tile, combined with hand-made Italian marble floors, walk-in showers, Bianco Dolomite marble topped vanities, and Hansgrohe fixtures. There is great closet space with custom built-ins throughout. See floor plan and full details here.

10-West-15th-Street-01 Parker Gramercy, #903 (Brown Harris Stevens)
10-West-15th-Street-02
From the Listing: Located on a high floor with open southern views and abundant light from both the living room and the bedroom, apartment 903 is the ideal place to call home. The easy flow of the interior space maximizes the useful square footage allowing for comfortable living and dining. The kitchen is located off the entry hall generous in size. There are two large closets located off the entry hall and a large closet with built-in drawers in the bedroom. The apartment needs upgrading and is priced to sell. High floor, excellent light, views all in the best location makes this the perfect New York City residence. It is well situated at the crossroads of the Village, Union Square, Flatiron, and Chelsea. See floor plan and full details here.

1-Powers-Street-01 1 Powers Street, #405 (Bond NY Real Estate)
1-Powers-Street-02
From the Listing: Truly one of the best deals on the market, residence 405 has a perfectly efficient layout with southern exposure (warmth/light all-day), in a boutique elevator building set just above the treetops and neighboring buildings. Adorned with high-end Bosch/LG appliances and finishes, set over Caeserstone countertops and hardwood floors, complete with a washer/dryer! The layout is intelligently efficient, allowing room for dining and hallway storage, giving this apartment the feel of a much larger space. Lastly, you have a private balcony perfect for outdoor dining and herb planting, and a storage unit in the basement! Tax abatement ends in 2036. See floor plan and full details here.

20-East-35th-Street-01 Goodhue House, #5L (Akam Associates Inc.)
20-East-35th-Street-02
From the Listing: Motivated seller! Generously sized, prewar one-bedroom unit offers spacious rooms with high beamed ceilings, parquet floors in excellent condition, a step-down living room measuring approximately 13'x25, and a king-size bedroom. The updated, windowed galley kitchen can be opened into the living room, and the original Art Deco bathroom is in excellent condition. The unit faces west and comes with two new window air-conditioning units. Maintenance includes electricity. See floor plan and full details here.

80-John-Street-01 South Star, #6E (Compass)
80-John-Street-02
From the Listing: Beautifully configured, dramatic downtown loft boasts extra-high 11-foot beamed ceilings and columns. It is situated on the 6th floor of a pre-war Art Deco condo featuring 24/7 doorman, maintenance crew, on-site garage, concierge services, the added convenience of a live-in super, and laundry rooms on every floor. See floor plan and full details here.

2098-Frederick-Douglass-Boulevard-01 Gateway Tower, #2D (Corcoran)
From the Listing: Spacious two-bedroom condominium apartment boasts a huge living/dining area, an open kitchen with a breakfast bar and lots of cabinets and two king-sized bedrooms. Each bedroom has two large two-door closets. The primary has three windows facing east over a quiet courtyard and an "L" for additional seating or a desk. It is located in a full-service condominium building with a 24-hour concierge desk, gym, courtyard, and rooftop deck. See floor plan and full details here.

12-East-97th-Street-01 12 East 97th Street, #4D (Compass)
Upper East Side co-ops
Carnegie Hill co-ops
12-East-97th-Street-02
From the Listing: This renovated one-bedroom, one-bathroom Carnegie Hill coop home right next to Central Park is move-in ready and priced to sell. Located in a beautifully maintained pre-war co-op, this spacious one bedroom home has gracious sized rooms, a chef's kitchen, a beautifully renovated bathroom and ample closet space throughout. 12 East 97th is a doorman building, with laundry, storage, bike storage, and a live-in super. See floor plan and full details here.

Wall Street buildings
55-Wall-Street-01 Cipriani Club Residences, #546 (Douglas Elliman)
Financial District condos
From the Listing: This mint condition oversized 900-square-foot 1-bed, 1-bath apartment with soaring 10-foot ceilings is priced to sell! The new owner will enjoy the large open layout with new wide-plank mahogany hardwood floors throughout and very generous living area. The sleek Sub-Zero/Bosch/Miele kitchen is open to the living room for easy entertaining of your guests. There are custom cabinets and closets in the bedroom for ample storage, and a limestone spa-style bathroom with upgraded Restoration Hardware vanity, sink, toilet, and lighting. The Cipriani Club Residences offers a 24-hour doorman, lobby attendant and concierge as well as a fitness center, business center, valet parking, landscaped courtyard and lovely rooftop garden. See floor plan and full details here.

211-East-18th-Street-01 211 East 18th Street, #4B (Corcoran)
Gramercy co-ops
Gramercy Park co-ops
From the Listing: Bring your contractor and make this spacious Gramercy home your own! Features include northern and eastern exposures, generous closet space, spacious living room, a king-sized bedroom, oak hardwood floors, and thru wall air conditioning. There is plenty of room in the living room for entertaining and relaxing and a home office, too! The bedroom is quiet and bright with north and east exposures overlooking brownstone backyard gardens with lots of greenery, and there is also a window in the bathroom. See floor plan and full details here.

310-East-46th-Street-01 Turtle Bay Towers, #4A (City Connections Realty)
310-East-46th-Street-02
From the Listing: Welcome to apartment 4A, a quality apartment with great "bones," in need of some love. The unit features a large living area, beamed ceilings, galley kitchen, renovated bathroom (with glass doors), ceiling fan, hardwood floors, custom marble bar and soaring 12.5-foot ceilings. A legal one-bedroom, the apartment is currently configured with 3 distinct sleeping areas plus a bonus space beneath the loft. See full details here.

25-Sutton-Place-South-01 Cannon Point North, #20I (Sotheby's International Realty)
East River co-ops
Sutton Place co-ops
From the Listing: Very motivated seller! Bring your architect or designer to customize the apartment to your taste. Perched high on the 20th floor with direct river views, this sun-flooded apartment enjoys eastern and southern exposures. The layout is functionally perfect with a very large living room which can accommodate a comfortably sized dining area. There is a nice separation of space between the living room and bedroom. When you awaken in this spacious bedroom, you see the river and light. There is an en suite bathroom, a powder room and closets galore. The residents enjoy a grand landscaped patio where you can sit and watch the boats go by. See floor plan and full details here.

319-East-50th-Street-01 Beekman Hill, #3A (Sotheby's International Realty)
From the Listing: Sunny, south- and west-facing one-bedroom apartment has recently been renovated. The apartment has beamed ceilings, oversized rooms, custom closets plus a windowed kitchen and bathroom. The stunning "gut renovated" bathroom has custom marble flooring, new design glass wall tiles for easy (Windex type) cleaning and high end finishes for the faucets and shower body. The kitchen has new floor tiles, a new glass subway tile back splash, new kitchen wall covering imported from London, a new double oven stove, and a new "sensor" dishwasher. The entire apartment was recently painted. There are 8 closets plus a pantry in the kitchen. See floor plan and full details here.

Prospect Park buildings
135-Prospect-Park-West-01 135 Prospect Park West, #62B (Red Star New York)
Park Slope co-ops
From the Listing: Don't miss this sun-filled one-bedroom in a prime Park Slope location! Located on the top floor of an elevator building, this apartment is truly the best deal in the area. It boasts renovated kitchen and bathroom, beautiful hardwood floors, and a spacious bedroom. The apartment also comes with a large storage unit in the building. Very low monthly add to the appeal of living here. See floor plan and full details here.

1790-Third-Avenue-02
1790-Third-Avenue-01 The Cereza, #405 (Sporn Group LLC)
From the Listing: New to the market, suite 405 in mint condition is a spacious and quiet park facing studio, 1-bathroom with views to the park, four closets, and amazing east light through the floor-to-ceiling windows. The home features 6-inch European white oak flooring, thermostat controlled heating and cooling units and a Bosch washer and dryer. The open kitchen has Caesarstone Calacatta Nuvo kitchen countertops, backsplashes, custom painted cabinets and integrated Bosch stainless steel appliances. The bathroom features Calacatta porcelain, a Duravit white gloss vanity, a mirrored medicine cabinet, a deep soaking tub with Grohe fixtures and Moen accessories. See floor plan and full details here.

310-East-49th-Street-01 310 East 49th Street, #1F (Compass)
From the Listing: Move right in to this beautifully renovated one bedroom apartment in a prime Midtown East location! Enjoy a large open living space and hard wood floors throughout. The kitchen has been recently renovated with white lacquer cabinets, quartz countertops and all new stainless steel appliances. The apartment offers ample closet space including a large walk-in closet off the main living area. The bedroom is bright and can accommodate a king size bed. The building offers a beautiful roof deck complete with modern furniture and plantings. See floor plan and full details here.

54-Martense-Street-01 54 Martense Street, #1A (Corcoran)
Prospect Lefferts Gardens condos
Brooklyn condos
From the Listing: On a quiet residential street at the nexus of Prospect Lefferts Gardens and Prospect Park South lies the beautifully restored and expanded 54 Martense Street. Unit #1A is efficiently designed with high ceilings and oversized windows facing leafy and wide Martense Street from its elevated vantage point and great street separation afforded by a large front yard. It features multiple spacious closets and is priced to sell. The kitchen includes Bosch stainless steel appliances, extra-deep sink, quartz countertops, and modern custom cabinetry. Bathrooms offer extra-deep soaking tubs, floor-to-ceiling subway tiling, custom vanities, and radiant heated flooring. In-unit Fisher Paykel washer and dryer and central heating and cooling systems with multiple zones afford the ultimate in luxury, comfort, and convenience. See floor plan and full details here.

333-East-43rd-Street-01 The Manor, #1015 (Douglas Elliman)
From the Listing: Charming one-bedroom, one-bath in a top Tudor City co-op enjoys bright southern light. This wonderful home features a modern window kitchen with stainless steel appliances, spacious rooms, and ample closet space. There are hardwood floors throughout and a modern window bath. The primary bedroom faces east. Priced to sell! See floor plan and full details here.

345-East-54th-Street-01 345 East 54th Street, #3B (Elegran)
Midtown East co-ops
From the Listing: Beautifully renovated, centrally located and priced to sell, this is a chance to really have it all. North and west exposure ensures an abundance of sunshine fills the junior 1-bedroom throughout the day. The brand new open concept kitchen with Carrera marble floors and quartz countertops along with custom cabinetry and high-end stainless steel appliances including a built-in microwave. The bathroom is just as impeccably appointed. Three closets and air-conditioning ensure comfortable living and pets are welcome (subject to board approval). See floor plan and full details here.

334-East-65th-Street-01 334 East 65th Street, #42 (Engel & Volkers)
From the Listing: Reminiscent of a European flat, this third floor walk-up apartment in Lenox Hill has a long gracious foyer with a bedroom located off to the side facing north with two windows and two large closets that is large enough for a queen-sized bed. The huge living room, separated from the bedroom by the foyer, has high ceilings, hardwood floors, and lots of light from southern exposure. There is plenty of space for a seating area and even a home office! The bathroom is located adjacent to the living room which is unusual for a prewar apartment so your guests don't have to enter through your bedroom. There is a lovely, open kitchen where you can entertain your guests while cooking. An added feature that many homes don't have is a combination washer/dryer in the kitchen. See floor plan and full details here.

150-East-61st-Street-01 150 East 61st Street, #3B (Berkshire Hathaway Home Services)
150-East-61st-Street-02
From the Listing: Apartment #3B features original hardwood floors with southeast exposure. This quiet unit receives ample sunlight in the daytime. The kitchen and bathroom are in good shape but could use some modern updating. It's the perfect home for someone who wants to be close to it all, as it is centrally located near Central Park, great shopping, and public transportation. See floor plan and full details here.

345-East-52nd-Street-01 345 East 52nd Street, #10B (Douglas Elliman)
345-East-52nd-Street-02
From the Listing: Bring your contractor to create an oasis in the heart of Manhattan. This extra-large studio apartment, with a beautiful wall of windows, is priced to sell and a perfect canvas to design and create a home to your exact specifications. The apartment faces north with open city skyline views and has excellent light. The layout is thoughtfully designed featuring an entry foyer, a living/dining area and an alcove for sleeping. The kitchen can be redesigned for open space living and great entertaining. See floor plan and full details here.

153-Joralemon-Street-01 153 Joralemon Street, #5R (Corcoran)
From the Listing: Situated in an excellent location in prime Brooklyn Heights, this fifth floor walk-up offers plenty of light, soaring tin ceilings, finished parquet floors and picture-frame moldings. There is a decorative fireplace with a gorgeous stone mantle. The bathroom is large with a newly glazed clawfoot bathtub, a brand new vanity and medicine cabinet, tin ceilings and a skylight. The separate kitchen has newly painted white cabinets, a light stone counter and a brand new sink. A separate home office has a large closet which is currently storing a window a/c unit which comes with the apartment. There are brand new light fixtures throughout the apartment. See floor plan and full details here.

5800-Arlington-Avenue-01 Skyview Riverdale via Compass
From the Listing: Enter into this dream of an apartment and settle right into your perfect oasis nestled in the trees and tucked away from all the noise and mayhem of the city. Relax into this generously sized alcove studio with a private balcony and enjoy all the thoughtful renovations and built-ins already in place for your convenience. A renovated windowed eat-in kitchen with tons of counter space to prepare your favorite meals and brew your morning coffee or, simply carry out your breakfast to enjoy al fresco. In addition to numerous other attributes, including abundant closets and a Zen-like bath, purchasing this jewel is a no-brainer! See floor plan and full details here.

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Contributing Writer Cait Etherington Cait Etherington has over twenty years of experience working as a journalist and communications consultant. Her articles and reviews have been published in newspapers and magazines across the United States and internationally. An experienced financial writer, Cait is committed to exposing the human side of stories about contemporary business, banking and workplace relations. She also enjoys writing about trends, lifestyles and real estate in New York City where she lives with her family in a cozy apartment on the twentieth floor of a Manhattan high rise.