10 New Homeowners On What They Wish They Knew

Photographed by Gunnar Larson.
It's safe to say that a home — especially in New York City — will be one of the biggest purchases you'll ever make in a lifetime. But let's be real here: Buying can be crazy expensive, and the paperwork and process can get labyrinth-level confusing.
Still, owning a home is possible, even for young buyers, and even in expensive areas. "Most of our twentysomething clients have 'buying a home' as a six-year goal," Stash Wealth founder Priya Malani, Refinery29's financial expert, says. But if you have a solid credit score and a decent amount saved up and can do a little bit of planning, owning an apartment might move from "pipe dream" territory to "next year" territory.
So how to begin? We have a guide right here to get started, but step one involves knowing how much money to expect to spend: "[Buyers usually] put down 20% to 30% of the total cost at the very beginning, so you want to be prepared," says Alyssa Soto Brody, a Compass licensed real estate salesperson.
Think that's a bit too much? There are exceptions. Malani mentions that other lending options like an FHA loan (which requires that you pay insurance on your mortgage) could allow you to use lender funds for closing costs, reducing your initial payment to as low as 5%. "As long as the monthly payment remains a doable amount for you, a smaller down payment might allow you to stop renting and start investing equity in your own home sooner," Malani says.
Once you figure out the financial side, however, a plethora of other questions start popping up. How long will it really take? How do I know I'm getting a good deal? What should I watch out for?
So we decided to find out what you really need to know about buying in or around New York City, asking for advice from Malani, Brody, and homeowners — people who survived the process. Ahead, 10 major pieces of advice for anyone even thinking of buying in the NYC market. Who knows? A key to a place you call yours could be in your future.