1. Some 18 months before your anticipated move, interview and choose your selling agent. He or she will be able to advise you on the value of your home in your market, suggest the best selling season and keep you apprised if and when changes occur. They’ll also make recommendations on putting your home in its best possible selling condition: pointing out where a coat of paint or a landscape refresh will punch up the curb appeal, or caution against spending renovation money you won’t recoup on your sale.
2. Research estate and/or tag sale managers. Depending on your style and the age and quality of your furniture, art objects, musical instruments, even cars, you may want to sell the things you can before you start tossing, recycling and donating. You’ll want several vendors to come to your home, appraise your items and give you an idea of their own style and record of success, how they would manage your sale, and an estimate of your net. Be sure to get a list of references and check them!
3. Throw it out! No way are you taking all that suburban stuff with you. In all likelihood your place will be smaller and you just won’t have the storage. Be ruthless and if possible, start a year ahead of your move, throw it out, recycle it, give it away. When the moving van comes, you’ll be glad you did.
4. Check out the neighborhoods you think you might like. Visit open houses to get a feel for what’s available in your price range, and stop in at stores and restaurants at different times of day, on different days of the week, and even in different seasons. The block you thought was sleepy and serene on an August Sunday afternoon could be hopping with tourists, skateboards or baby strollers on the Tuesday after Labor Day. Consider renting for a while if you’re not absolutely sure.
5. Assemble your buying team. Assuming you are buying, you will want to identify your buyer’s agent early for the same reason you choose your seller’s agent early. A good professional will want to get to know you–not just your wish-list, but who you are, how you will live, work and have fun in your new environment. That takes time…and a lot of questions.
The buying team should also provide you with market updates and info you really can’t easily find anywhere else–like tips on passing your coop board application, or which condos might be offering unadvertised discounts. In addition to decorators, contractors, movers and painters, they should also recommend other members of your team – lenders and, most important, attorneys.
Keep in mind: 90% of owned real estate in New York is cooperative and there is nothing more complicated and fraught with potential pitfalls than a coop purchase. Choosing a top notch real estate professional team–responsive, responsible and knowledgeable selling and buying agents; an eager and honest lender; and a savvy, diligent and cautious attorney–will have the greatest impact on making this move to a new home and a new chapter in your life stress-free, exciting and tremendously satisfying.
Robin Roy was a 12-year resident of Chappaqua. She now lives in midtown Manhattan and is a Licensed Real Estate Salesperson with The Corcoran Group.