When choosing a mortgage banker and real estate attorney, make sure they do the bulk of their business in Manhattan coop and condo closings. Even better: get recommendations from your real estate agent.
Choose a Local Attorney who Works Exclusively in Closings
The circle of lawyers who handle the bulk of Manhattan closings is small, and you want one of them. These lawyers know the buildings and know each other. If our attorney already has on file a building questionnaire and contract rider for the seller’s counsel from a previous transaction, that can give us the upper hand in a multiple bid scenario. Conversely, using a non-local or non-real estate attorney can make our offer much less competitive. I’ve had buyers insist on using discount attorneys through work who took so long to complete due diligence that the seller eventually received a higher offer, and I’ve seen family friends who are practicing lawyers in other fields gum up transactions so badly sellers took less money from another buyer.
Choose a Local Banker Tailored to Your Needs
Getting a mortgage where you do your banking may enable you to take advantage of relationship pricing. However, you’ll want to get a banker recommendation from your real estate agent for your bank. Whomever you happen to be connected to when you call your bank’s mortgage line, or whomever is working floor duty when you walk in your local branch, may or may not be any good. You’ll want to compare loan products with other banks as well; You’ll likely find that one bank more aggressively pursues your business than another. If you’re a condo or townhouse buyer wishing to finance more than 80% of your purchase, some banks will offer only high interest products with private mortgage insurance payments, and others will be able to piggy-back loans to avoid the extra interest. Mortgage brokers can also come in handy in hard-to-finance buildings, for buyers who are high-asset / low income, or international buyers.
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Another hard and fast rule when choosing bankers and attorneys: choose them early! Our real estate attorney will have a lot to offer us as we zero in on the home we’re looking for. If there are any issues with the home or building, best to know them- and know how to overcome them- before we agree on a price with the seller, not after. Also, loan pre-approval can take longer, and rates between banks can vary more greatly, than most buyers anticipate. This is especially the case if buyers are self-employed, co-purchasing, or have any other characteristic of their purchase that isn’t straightforward.
For bankers and attorneys, choose local, choose early, and take your agent’s advice. This will enable us to form a team of professionals that work together, rather than saddle us with a weak link late in the game.