How doable is it for a junior big law couple to buy a one to two bedroom apartment in NYC?

I understand it depends on location, but just generally. If it helps, easy commute to midtown and fidi would be a must. Let’s assume zero generational wealth.

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Owning is not always worth it in New York

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It’s my understanding often owning involves monthly fees that are almost as much as rent, on top of mortgage. Just not sure if this is worth it for juniors

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My partner and I looked into it during COVID bc prices went down. First year and 5th year salaries. 100k student debt total. After some research it didn’t pan out to be a good investment because building fees and taxes were so high… thousands of dollars out of pocket per month that you don’t get back. Plus the condos on the market at that time that were in our price range needed quite a bit of updating. We decided to keep renting. But who knows you may find a unicorn!

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Why not wait a couple years till you’re a mid level and you can get a nicer place that maybe will last you 10 years or more. Plus rates should be lower then.

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Look into JC! 5k a month(all in, including taxes and all) for new two bedroom condo near the path. Split between two = 2.5k a month, which is equal to what most of my peers that are renting are paying. Also you do not need 20%, we put 10 down

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If you know you’re going to stay in NYC for a while (ie 5+ years), look at coops, which are cheaper and generally have lower taxes and closing costs. Look into upper Manhattan: Harlem, Washington heights, Hudson heights, inwood. Easy commute to Times Square area but not so much Fidi. Otherwise, NJ.

I bought an apartment and am so happy with my decision, especially now that rents are going crazy again and my costs remain more or less fixed

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And just want to clarify that in order for buying not constrain your life you should buy well within your means (ie monthly payment including mortgage and fees should be equal to or less than what you would otherwise pay for rent)

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Doable, but buy within your means. I know many couples who have taken the plunge on million dollar properties as juniors, and they don’t have the extra money they used to have for vacations, eating out/DoorDash, random purchases. They also feel stuck at their big law jobs so consider whether you are fine staying long term.

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A few things to bear in mind, if helpful, in the context of buying into an NYC co-op:

As others have noted, in addition to your mortgage payment you will have significant additional monthly expenses comprised of property taxes and common charges for upkeep of building. Easily additional several thousand per month. If you want a nice building with good amenities like a doorman these common charges can be huge.

As a shareholder in a building you are also exposed to the liability of potential assessments - if the boiler goes bust, the roof needs repairing or Local Law 11 work turns out to be expensive, depending on the building’s level of reserves and other sources of revenue this can result in significant assessments to shareholders. When you’re a renter, this is simply someone else’s problem.

If you ever need to move geographically you have to go through the process of selling which can be quite an ordeal if the market isn’t hot or depending on the building’s rules you can rent and go through joys of being a landlord yourself.

Co-op and condo politics can be rough.

Having said all that if you like the certainty of knowing you have a home for long term and fixed monthly payments it can be good. BUT keep in mind the monthly common charges can and do increase and assessments can be levied at any time and be significant.

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With some expense management, it should honestly be a piece of cake for a junior big law couple. I’m in the process of getting my own apartment as a single, junior big law associate. If you have a CPA that you use to file your taxes, get them on the phone and pick their brain about the tax benefits of owning. When I first started looking, I spoke to mine and ran several pro-forma tax returns to figure out what salary I need to maintain to be able to pay a certain mortgage amount and meet my savings goals. And it looks like my monthly annual cost of ownership (barring any bad surprises) wound up being pretty comparable to my current rent, which is only going to continue to go up.

The key is to find something with manageable taxes and low monthlies. Granted, you won’t be moving into a luxury high rise in TriBeCa, but attainable properties are out there, high end condos included, especially in Brooklyn. And if you’re in big law, your firm probably partners with a large bank that offers sweet mortgage deals (lower down payment, below market rates, no PMI). Just do your homework, talk to lenders, get a pre approval to figure out your budget, talk to a CPA, and for the love of god, ignore anyone that tells you “what interest rates are going to do in the next x number of years.”

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Doable, but easier in JC. What's the loan situation?

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Not really but I’ve been setting loan money aside just in case. No use paying rn with the interest freeze

You can find nice 700 sq ft 1BDs in Battery Park City / Rector Place for $700-800k. Prob would need 10-20% down

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Agree, pretty sure they’re all on land leases.

You need to have nearly 25 percent of purchase price for down payment and closing for a coop. So at least $200k (but more realistically $250k) for a one bed in Manhattan/Brooklyn.

The math is a bit different for condos but I’m doubtful you will find something you like and can afford.

Perhaps my friends and I got unlucky and applied for the most financially conservative coops, but our respective boards required to show cash flow post closing for a couple of months. Not sure what you mean by right financial profiles.

With condos you can get loans with 10% down. So different math though condos are more expensive

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