He has also pushed having a doorman and elevator onto the priority list. “That’s a really interesting part of the process. I think anyone who’s buying an apartment for the first time starts to doubt” him or herself, he said. But the structure of having a list has helped him keep track of what really matters, even as the list has changed.
First-time buyers are often think that they only want a home that is in move-in condition. But unless you’re buying new construction and you’re willing to live with all the design choices made by the developer, chances are good that any home purchase will require some renovation work, even if it is just a new coat of paint.
Robi Kirsic, president of the board of directors of the National Association of the Remodeling Industry and president of Timeline Renovations, recommends buyers get estimates for any potential renovation work before making an offer.
“It’s not just the purchase cost of the property but what is going to be the additional cost to renovate the space in order to make the property into what they want,” he said.
Keep in mind, too, that renovations don’t have to completely disrupt your timeline. Simple things like having walls repainted or floors refinished can be done fairly quickly and only slightly delay moving in. And sometimes buyers can live through a renovation, like a bathroom update, if the property has more than one bathroom.
But for extensive renovations, Mr. Kirsic said buyers should consider whether they’ll have to live somewhere else while the work gets done, and if they even have the tolerance for a big renovation. “Going into a renovation is financially and mentally challenging. It takes time for all of it to come together,” he said.
Most buyers, no matter what their budget, end up not getting exactly what they want, said Sandra Smith, a broker with R New York, especially if they’re shopping in a hot real estate market like Manhattan. “I have clients looking for $5 million, $10 million apartments, and they’re still compromising,” she said.