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Do I need a co-op inspection?

Q: We are about to buy a co-op, and one of my friends asked me if I was going to do an inspection. Do I need to do this for an apartment in a building?
A: A home inspection is not generally done for a co-op apartment because the co-op is responsible for the structure of the building. The only time I would recommend an inspection is if your apartment is located on the top floor or below street level and there is evidence of structural issues.
In either case, it is almost always the responsibility of the co-op to repair any structural problems. You can personally check things like appliances and water leaks and save yourself several hundred dollars of home inspection fees.

Q: Why do I need a lawyer to buy or sell?
A: In many other states, lawyers are not used for transactions. This is usually handled by the brokers and title companies. Using a government-mandated form, you only have to sign a simple agreement and you are in contract.
In the New York metropolitan area, lawyers are very important due to the overwhelming amount of paperwork required to enter into contract and subsequently close a transaction.
This can be even greater if there are banks involved. An experienced attorney will be able to protect your interests and keep you out of bad situations that can cost you money.

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Should I rent or buy?

Q: I am told that rents are still very low, and I should rent instead of buying. Is this true?
A: While rents are slightly lower than they were pre-pandemic, consider that unless you’re in a rent-stabilized apartment, when you renew your lease, if the rental market has improved, the landlord will likely raise your rent to market price.
Couple that with the fact that prices have not fully recovered on sales, and this might be the ideal time to become a homeowner. Of course, if you are planning to move in a short period—say one to three years—then I would recommend a rental.
Q: Someone mentioned that as an owner, I can get a rebate from the government. What is this about, and does it also apply to a coop owner?
A: STAR is the School Tax Relief Program put in place by New York State as a rebate for homeowners. And yes, it does apply to cooperative and condominium owners as well.
In order to benefit from this, the unit must be your primary residence. You are required to fill out an application form and submit it to the NY State Tax Authority.
There is also an enhanced STAR rebate for those over 65 whose income is below $90,500. Note that you can only benefit from one STAR rebate regardless of how many properties you own, and there are some restrictions. Visit www.tax.ny.gov to learn more.

Send your real estate-related questions to [email protected]

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