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Just a year ago, buyers in New York City, at least in Manhattan, were enjoying something rare—a buyer’s market. In addition to finding an abundance of good deals, including steep drops on new condos, there was little competition from other buyers. This ideal market gave buyers more bargaining power and made the process of bidding on properties considerably less stressful. Sadly, this reprieve seems to be over already.

Whether looking to buy in New York City, the suburbs, or upstate, buyers are now facing a seller’s market. In the suburbs, the market is so hot that there are even reports of sellers imposing previously unimaginable contingencies (e.g., offering houses but without expected fixtures such as toilets).

While no buyer wants to enter a seller’s market, it is still possible to close deals with a bit of patience, stamina, and know-how. Here are five things buyers can do to set themselves up for success in a seller’s market.


In a seller’s market, you have to be prepared to move quickly. If you’re not already prequalified for financing, get prequalified immediately. It can take a week or more to get prequalified, and in a seller’s market, you’ll have no time to lose.

Even if you are prequalified, start compiling your paperwork. Since the start of the pandemic, underwriting has been slower than usual for several reasons: remote work has slowed the process of approving loans, low-interest rates have created a surge in financing and refinancing applications, and many lenders have introduced additional underwriting requirements to screen applicants. This means that the underwriting process is now even longer than it was pre-pandemic, and in most cases, it is takings months rather than weeks. The sooner you start to prepare, the more likely you are to get quick approval and close a deal (keep reading to learn how to prepare for the underwriting process). Also, bear in mind that sellers may not even need to wait for someone to secure financing in a seller’s market since it is far more likely that at least one potential buyer will be coming in ready to close a cash-only deal.

Find an Experienced Agent

In a seller’s market, working with an experienced agent is essential for several reasons. First, the more experienced they are, the more likely it is they will be able to help you navigate the difficult terrain ahead, including the emotional highs and lows you’re about to face. Second, an experienced agent is more likely to be able to help you negotiate a fair deal, even in a hot market. Among other things, an experienced agent will likely be more adept at finding potential flaws with the property that can help you negotiate a better deal. Finally, experienced agents generally have established networks, and they may even be representing sellers who have properties on the market that match your criteria. If you’re willing to work with a dual agent (an agent who represents both the seller and buyer), this may even help get you in the door and to the front of the bidding line.

Stop Bargain Hunting

It’s fairly obvious that in a seller’s market where sellers may be able to field dozens of offers, including bids well over the asking price, you’re unlikely to find many deals. But this doesn’t mean you’re going to be shortchanged. You’ll likely still be buying at the market rate.

Be Flexible

Just as you need to abandon the fantasy of finding an apartment at a bargain-basement price, to win a bid in a seller’s market, you will likely need to be flexible about your search criteria. If you’re set on having a washer-dryer in the unit, can you settle for a laundry room in the building instead? Likewise, do you have to have bike storage, or could there another solution suffice? Also, be prepared to reconsider the size of the apartment. While you may be searching for a 1500-square-foot apartment, could you settle for 1000-square-feet and invest in a few space-saving renovations or compact furniture instead?

In a seller’s market, flexibility may extend beyond the need to rethink your wish list. Chances are, your seller is also looking to buy a new property. For this reason, your ability to remain flexible about the move-in date is also likely to gain you a few extra points.

Establish and Respect Your Price Threshold

Buying a home is always an emotional roller coaster. In a hot market, the highs and lows get even steeper. At times, this can drive buyers to bid well above their original price threshold. If you can afford it, this may be strategic. If it’s too high, however, the strategy may backfire.

In the short term, if you bid well above your threshold, you may not qualify for financing. If this happens, you’ll be back to square one in your search. But even if you do qualify, bidding well above your original threshold is risky. If you later find yourself struggling to cover your monthly expenses, you put yourself at risk of foreclosure. The bottom line is that while we all want to win, winning at any cost can and does backfire when it comes to bidding on a home. Fortunately, since the 2008 crash, lenders have grown increasingly cautious, which means buyers who go in over their heads are now far more likely to be rejected for financing upfront.

Should You Buy in a Seller’s Market?

While buying in a seller’s market may be more stressful, it isn’t necessarily riskier than buying at any other time. Even if you can’t find great bargains, if you were already thinking of buying your first home or trading up for a larger home or home in a new neighborhood, it may still be a great time to buy. As always, buying a home is a long-term investment, and therefore a decision should ultimately be driven by your long-term needs rather than short-term market trends.

Newly-listed Steals & Deals
321-East-45th-Street-01 All images of The Sands via Douglas Elliman
From the Listing: Want gleaming sunlight from every window? Come to this gracious one bedroom/one bathroom apartment boasting southern and eastern exposures at The Sands, located at 321 East 45th Street. Unit 11G has a spacious living room/dining room area with a window in its kitchen which is outfitted with full-sized appliances making cooking and entertainment a delight! See floor plan and full details here.

30-Rutgers-Street-01 All images of 30 Rutgers Street via Compass
From the Listing: Why rent when you can own this incredible priced-to-sell purchase opportunity to start your best of Downtown living !! Welcome home to tranquil residence 4B, features a private balcony facing the courtyard, Pullman kitchen and oversized windows throughout that draw in tremendous light bringing out the highlights of the wide-plank wooden floors. Enjoy a large bedroom with a wide-reach closet, marble bath and a separate storage closet on landing, See floor plan and full details here.

317-West-103rd-Street-01 All images of 317 West 103rd Street via Klara Madlin
From the Listing: Lovely oasis in the city. Come relax on your own private terrace. Charming brownstone 1 bedroom with 10 ft ceilings and hardwood floors. A beautiful tree-lined block adjacent to Riverside Park and convenient to transportation. Comprised of two adjacent 19th century brownstones, this self-managed co-op thrives as a friendly, owner-inclusive community. See floor plan and full details here.

44-West-62nd-Street-01 All images of Lincoln Plaza Towers via Nest Seekers
From the Listing: A bright, east-facing home just steps from Central Park, this gut-renovated alcove studio possesses an ideal blend of charm and functionality. The living area is anchored by a beautiful bow-shaped window, that floods the space with heaps of natural light .The adjoining alcove, allows a queen-sized bed, as well as small nightstands. Both the kitchen and the bathroom have recently been updated, and the entire apartment is freshly painted. Finishing the home are 5 conveniently placed closets, additional space for a media center, and new windows. See floor plan and full details here.

725-Lafayette-Avenue-01 All images of 725 Lafayette Avenue via Douglas Elliman
From the Listing: Residence 1A is a sizable one-bedroom (1BR), one-and-a-half bathroom (1.5BA) duplex spanning approximately 871 SQ FT. Honey-toned hardwood floors introduce a subtle, neutral warmth to the space upon entry. Upon entry to this residence, you will first discover the kitchen outfitted with minimalist white lacquer cabinetry accented by a grey, subway-tiled backsplash and a generous breakfast bar which is perfect for a quick bite or extra seating for more expansive entertaining. See floor plan and full details here.

88-Greenwich-Street-01 All images of Greenwich Club via Spire Group NY
From the Listing: Designed by renowned architect Ismael Leyva, residence 901 is complete with 10-foot ceilings, a generous closet, and a spacious sleeping alcove separated by custom sliding glass doors. This lovely home has elegant finishes throughout; including beautiful hardwood floors, a fully equipped open kitchen fitted with teak custom cabinetry, a stainless steel Sub Zero refrigerator, Viking Range stove and two-drawer Fisher Paykal dishwasher. The modern bath offers top-of-the-line finishes with a Kohler soaking tub, stunning marble accents and a half glass door. Both the kitchen and bath are equipped with Ipod docking stations. See floor plan and full details here.

242-West-104th-Street-01 All images of 242 West 104th Street via Brown Harris Stevens
From the Listing: NO BOARD APPROVAL 2 bedroom 1 bath home with amazing bones in need of a full renovation. If you are looking for great value and get excited about a project to create your own vision, this is an excellent opportunity. Many of the pre-war details are intact including the original wood flooring, intricate molding, and solid wood doors. The home has high ceilings, nine windows, a long entrance foyer, and faces west and south with good light. See floor plan and full details here.

215-East-81st-Street-01 All images of The Duplex Condos via Corcoran
From the Listing: This spectacular 1-bedroom Duplex on the Upper East Side is not to be missed! The kitchen features Italian wood cabinetry, stainless steel appliances including Sub Zero refrigerators, Viking stove, Bosch dishwasher, Kohler fixtures throughout, and stone countertops. Located at the end of the living room are stairs to your bedroom featuring a walk-in closet and private balcony. See floor plan and full details here.

461-West-150th-Street-01 All images of The Capstone via Red Star New York LLC
From the Listing: Luxury living enhanced by an expansive private roof terrace rarely found in Manhattan. This Penthouse unit features generous sized rooms with approx. 793SF of indoor living space, a balcony off the living room, floor to ceiling windows and large skylights bathing the apt in natural light, brand new Miele in-unit smart washer/dryer, modern bathroom with Grohe fixtures and Toto toilet plus a contemporary kitchen with Caesar stone countertops and stunning carrera marble backsplash. By ascending the in-unit staircase, the true crown jewel of this property is found. See floor plan and full details here.

80-La-Salle-Street-01 All images of 80 La Salle Street via Corcoran
From the Listing: Wake up to birds singing from your one-of-a-kind garden retreat in Manhattan! Pulled back away from the street noise, the garden views gives you a perfect tree house feel, SUNNY, BRIGHT and GREEN with all day south sun and afternoon west facing, this apartment is stunning! Enter into this open, gorgeous, light-filled residence, featuring oversized windows, and fantastic closet space. Relax in the spacious tranquil living area that you will enjoy throughout the seasons. See floor plan and full details here.

310-East-46th-Street-01 All images of Turtle Bay Towers via Turtle Bay Realty
From the Listing: RARE OPPORTUNITY To purchase this 800 sq.ft. one bedroom with 180 sq.ft. terrace with river and Chrysler Building views ! This bright sun filled home features a true separate bedroom with an enormous walk-in-closet. Living room and dining area have an open floor plan allowing you to be creative in design. Separate kitchen and bath and an abundance of closet and storage space. See floor plan and full details here.

250-Park-Place-01 All images of 250 Park Place via Compass
From the Listing: Bright and sunny true 2 Bedroom in a Prime Prospect Heights location! Right off trendy Vanderbilt Ave and its chic restaurants and shops, one block to express trains, Prospect Park, Grand Army Plaza and the close to the Brooklyn Museum and Botanic Gardens. See floor plan and full details here.

200-Rector-Place-01 All images of Liberty Court via Compass
From the Listing: Bright and Open Battery Park City Condominium. Amazing Junior 4 apartment with 2 bedrooms, 1.5 bathrooms, great natural light, and stunning views at Battery Park City's coveted Liberty Court! The expansive home brightened by walls of windows on double exposures is a modern gem with fabulous vistas capturing the Freedom Tower and a peek at the water. See floor plan and full details here.

499-Quincy-Street-01 All images of 499 Quincy Street via Corcoran
From the Listing: Located in the heart of Stuyvesant Heights is a lovely home ready to take on the demands of modern life. At 935sf this floor through apartment sits in the sweet spot of the 3 unit boutique condo building with low monthlies. Hardwood oak floors grace the home throughout in a rich walnut finish, and North and South facing light give you plenty of places to keep your houseplants happy. The kitchen has stainless steel appliances including a refrigerator with ice maker and dishwasher and a full sized range, vented gas W/D tucked in a closet. See full details here.

181-East-93rd-Street-01 All images of 181 East 93rd Street via Brown Harris Stevens
From the Listing: Brand new to the market, this large 2 bedroom home is just waiting for you to make it your's. The open concept, fully renovated, windowed kitchen is a cook's dream! Plenty of counter space to cook your favorite recipes while being able to socialize with your guests at the same time make this apartment feel like a home. There are new appliances including a professional quality stove and a wine refrigerator. Cabinets, cabinets and more cabinets are there for storage. There is a large walk in closet off of both bedrooms which is a large as an extra room. See floor plan and full details here.

1818-Newkirk-Avenue-01 All images of 1818 Newkirk Avenue via Douglas Elliman
From the Listing: This oversized, 2 Bed 2 Bath + Private Terrace, with tree-top views offers what very few can in the heart of serene Ditmas Park; outdoor space and optionality. At close to 1,400 square feet, the spacious foyer, office alcove, living, and dining areas are sizable enough for creating a 3rd bedroom. An oversized primary bedroom with an en suite bathroom and the spacious second bedroom is accompanied by eight total closets. Pristine hardwood floors throughout create an inviting home feel. See floor plan and full details here.

233-34th-Street-01 All images of 233 Greenwood via Corcora
From the Listing: 233 Greenwood offers you all the comfort and design you could want in the lush surroundings of Greenwood Heights. Incredible value! Tax abatement to 2041! Extra Storage unit (5 ft x 6 ft) included! This apartment also has a deeded parking spot for sale separately! See floor plan and full details here.

20-Pine-Street-01 All images of 20 Pine Street via Compass
From the Listing: The Collection by Amani Casa defined luxury living offering tastefully designed finishes. This apartment has soaring 15 feet ceilings, gracious foyer entrance that leads to the living room with meticulously crafted interior and seamless lifestyle featuring an oversized living room, separate dining area, and queen-sized closets fitted with custom closets. The sleek kitchen offers a sub-zero refrigerator, gas stove, dishwasher and full stainless steel appliances. The oversized spa-like bathroom includes your own soaking tub, separate Rain shower in its stylish imported stone and dark stained hardwood floors. Washer dryer in unit See floor plan and full details here.

401-East-74th-Street-01 All images of The Amherst via Douglas Elliman
From the Listing: Welcome to a full of light renovated one bedroom with alcove and outdoor space. Apt 14R is on a high floor facing east featuring a spacious magnificent chef's open kitchen, gorgeous oak hardwood floors, and many closets. An area is already set up for an office nook that looks out on a terrace that one could fill with flowers and plants. See floor plan and full details here.

1421-Hancock-Street-01 All images of 1421 Hancock Street via Corcoran
From the Listing: Unit #2 is approx. 1,010 square foot three bedroom, two full bathroom home with a washer & dryer, and closets everywhere including in the living room! Taxes: $177/month. Common Charges: $429/month. OWN FOR $606/MONTH!

A large bay window in the front of the home adds depth and extra light to the already expansive living room. The kitchen has full size Bertazzoni appliances and an extra large breakfast bar. The dining area can hold a large table and the living room is kept bright with three bay windows overlooking the treetops of Hancock Street.
See full details here.

176-West-87th-Street-01 All images of 176 West 87th Street via Douglas Elliman
From the Listing: "Diamond in the Rough" this sunny and spacious, corner prewar 5 awaits your personal design touch! Boasting bright western and northern city views, huge windows, high ceilings, hardwood floors and tons of prewar charm. Currently set up as two large bedrooms, with a double-sized living room (could be a formal dining room or 3rd bedroom). See full details here.

1101-Prospect-Avenue-01 All images of Parc Maison via Compass
From the Listing: Welcome to this bright and spacious two-bedroom condo where space and charm come together to create a lovely home in family-friendly Windsor Terrace with its laid back vibe. With all the benefits of a single family home this rarely available condo offers three private outdoor spaces including an expansive roof deck plus two balconies, deeded parking, and an oversized storage room. See floor plan and full details here.

125-East-74th-Street-01 All images of 125 East 74th Street via Compass
From the Listing: 6D is an elegant, sun-flooded, two-bedroom, two bath apartment on the 6th floor with Southern & Eastern views over trees and across the landmarked townhouses to the south. The large Entrance Foyer/Dining Room opens through an arched doorway into a light-filled, spacious Living Room, with crown and base moldings, built-in shelving, and a working fireplace. The hardwood floors, details, and Large, original, steel casement, paned windows give the apartment a classic, New York feel. See floor plan and full details here.

184-Cornelia-Street-01 All images of 184 Cornelia Street via Brown Harris Stevens
From the Listing: Welcome to 184 Cornelia Street, a turnkey two-unit townhouse in the heart of Bushwick. Enter the open plan living room with beautiful hardwood floors, exposed brick decorative fireplace, convenient half bath, and a massive kitchen with island and stainless steel appliances. There is a large wooden deck off the back with water and power and stairs down to a tiered garden with planter beds.Upstairs there are three bedrooms and two full bathrooms and three large skylights that stream light into the hallways and bathrooms all day. See floor plan and full details here.

200-East-57th-Street-01 All images of 200 East 57th Street via Corcoran
From the Listing: Spacious and tranquil, this 1,600 square foot home at the edge of Sutton Place offers countless possibilities. Currently configured as a massive 2 bedroom, 2 bathroom apartment, this stellar property provides space to create a formidable 3 bedroom home with room to spare. The large entry foyer gives way to an entertainer's paradise - an open 25' x 22' east facing living / dining room. The galley windowed kitchen has plentiful counter space and storage. Both bedrooms are oversized and accommodate multiple arrangements. The master bedroom has a dressing area and en-suite bath. See full details here.

441-East-57th-Street-01 All images of The Collection via Sotheby's International Realty
From the Listing: 6th Floor Contemporary Condo in Sutton Place. Unique and elegant 2-Bedroom and 2-Bath with Chef's Eat-in-Kitchen. A private landing sets the tone for your elegant duplex condominium with 1,645 square feet and East, South and North exposures. Gracious corner living room with unique wrap windows allowing sunny southern exposure and eastern views to Sutton Park and the East River. 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.