Monthly Archives: May 2019

30 Must-Read Tips for First Time Homeowners

As residential movers in NYC with many successful years in business, we’ve seen it all, from first-time homeowners making a fresh start through seasoned buyers in the process of downsizing. Naturally, experienced homeowners tend to have an easier time with things, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have a smooth transition when you purchase your own place for the first time.

We’ve gathered 30 must-read tips that can help you transition like a pro, even if you are a first-time homeowner.

Preliminary Work

1. Make lists with your significant other.

If you’re purchasing your first home with your significant other, sit down together and make separate lists of everything you want in your new home and neighborhood. When finished, compare your lists and make sure you’re on the same page before you start shopping.

2. Pay off debts and start an emergency fund.

Homeownership is often much more expensive than people anticipate and qualifying for financing can be tough. Start off on the right foot by paying off revolving debts, like credit cards, and installment loans on things like vehicles. Then, get yourself set up with an emergency fund to cover your living expenses for 3-6 months, so you’re not tempted to rack up more debt if things get tough.

3. Check your credit score and don’t open new lines of credit.

Most people are well aware that their credit score will be hugely important when it comes to getting approved for a mortgage, but it can take time to work out kinks.

When you start to seriously consider purchasing your first home, run a check on your own credit. Per government regulations, you’re entitled to a free report from each of the main credit reporting agencies each year, and each may have slightly different information. Correct any inaccuracies that may be harming your credit and, if you’re low, take steps to improve it before you apply for a mortgage.

Once you’ve got it where you want it, don’t take any actions that involve having your credit checked. Doing so will show mortgage companies you may be opening up new lines of credit, which can make you look like a riskier buyer.

4. Hire a buyer’s agent/ broker.

Generally speaking, fees for real estate agents and brokers are paid by the seller. If you aren’t represented, the selling agent/ broker gets the full commission. If you are, the commission is split between the two.

Your agent will help identify homes and neighborhoods which fit your criteria, negotiate, walk you through the process, and be your advocate—a major boon for first-time buyers!

5. Think 3-5 years ahead.

Chances are, you’ll lose a significant amount of money if you have to move again within the next year or two. This in mind, you’ll want to think about what your needs will be like 3-5 years from now before you start shopping.

6. Ditch emotions.

Emotional buyers often spend more than they can afford or wind up with other regrets. Even in tough markets, you’ll have multiple opportunities. Check your emotions before you start shopping.

Finance

7. Know how much you can afford and don’t exceed your limits.

Advice in this respect runs the gamut. Some experts say for property to be affordable, it shouldn’t exceed 30-40% of your take-home pay, while others say stick to 25% or less.

Research presented on Realtor.com offers two quick methods to determine affordability in NYC. The fastest method is to triple your yearly income and use that as a guide for home pricing. However, if you have debts (see #2) and don’t pay them off, you’ll want to calculate your debt-to-income ratio and keep it at 36% or less.

8. Crunch the numbers using various programs.

You’ll probably qualify for a number of loan programs, such as conventional, FHA, and VA, if your credit is decent and you have stable income. Become familiar with multiple programs to identify which, if any, may work for you and what costs you can expect.

9. Have 20% to put down.

Many loan programs allow you to get into a home without having 20% to put down. That may sound like a great deal but bear in mind that you’ll have to pay for private mortgage insurance (PMI), which typically amounts to 1% of the loan value per year. Pulling the data from Zillow, the average New York home price is $677,000, meaning PMI is $6,770 per year or $564.17 per month. That is money you don’t get back and does not go towards your payments.

10. Save 3-4% for closing costs.

There’s a whole lot of talk about saving here, but the importance cannot be overstated. You will likely have expenses related to the appraisal, home inspection, attorney’s fees, and homeowners insurance. You can sometimes roll this into the mortgage, but it doesn’t make financial sense to do so. Set aside 3-4% of your anticipated home value for closing.

11. Budget for moving and move-in expenses.

Metropolis Moving founder Matt loads boxes into truck with partner Chris

In a previous blog, we broke down how much it costs to move in NYC based upon borough and number of rooms.

You can calculate your own figures, but suffice it to say, the minimum is a little under $5,000, and that’s being very conservative. If you’re wanting to purchase new furniture or are starting from scratch, you’ll probably need to set aside $7,000+ to get moved in and set up.

12. Get pre-qualified.

Don’t shop for a home until you’re pre-qualified. Explore your options with several lenders to make sure you’re getting the best terms. That way, when you start shopping, you’ll already know what your ceiling is and may have a bit more bargaining power.

13. Shop around for homeowners insurance.

You’ll need homeowners insurance to protect your investment and it may even be a requirement for your mortgage. However, that doesn’t mean you need to pay an arm and a leg for it. Shop around to find a good deal, but remember to read the fine print, so you get the level of coverage you need.

14. Budget for repairs.

Although our cheat sheet for calculating the cost to move in NYC covered a lot of things, it didn’t include anything for repairs, simply because there’s such a wide variance.

Data from Bankrate concludes the average homeowner spends $2,000 annually on maintenance services, but it’s important to note that’s an average. New homeowners tend to spend more as they get established, especially if they purchase a fixer upper.

Research compiled by the National Association of Realtors (NAR) indicates more than half of all new homeowners undertake a home repair project within three months of purchase and spend an average of $4,550 in improvements.

Location

15. Focus on neighborhood quality before the home.

As NAR research further notes, homeowners are more concerned with neighborhood quality than they are about the size of their home, so it pays to start off by looking at the right areas before looking for a home.

If you’re looking at buying a home in New York City, check out these guides we’ve put together on the best neighborhoods in Brooklyn, Manhattan, and Queens.

16. Consider the commute.

In addition to neighborhood quality, NAR found that more than half of homebuyers would trade a larger yard for a shorter commute if given the option. As you explore various neighborhoods, try making the commute to work at least once during peak traffic periods to ensure it’s something you can manage every day.

17. Check crime stats.

Don’t rely on word-of-mouth reports. Check the crime stats for yourself before looking into homes in any given area.

18. Learn the layout.

Think about the services you typically use or might need, from grocery stores through restaurants, pharmacies, and hospitals. Then, do a quick map search to see if you’ll have easy access in the neighborhoods you prefer.

19. Know the schools even if you don’t have children and never will.

Good schools increase property values. If you choose an underperforming area, your property values won’t rise as much as others.

20. Visit homes you have no intention of buying.

It probably sounds crazy, but the more you visit homes in areas you’re considering moving to, the more of an expert you’ll become. You don’t need to book private showings, but if you see notices for open houses, pop in.

21. Select the cheapest home in the best neighborhood.

Chances are your first home will not be your last, so it’s better to select something that has strong potential to rise in value. This in mind, search for the best neighborhood you can find for your needs, and then pick the cheapest home you can work with.

Homes are malleable, so you can adapt it to suit and make improvements that will increase its value when you sell.

22. Scout the neighborhood repeatedly.

It’s hard to know what an area is really like unless you visit it quite a bit. Stop by your favorite haunts on different days of the week and vary the time of day. That way, you’ll learn if the place is unusually noisy at night, has abnormal daytime activity, or simply doesn’t feel right.

The Property

23. Find out if there are neighborhood or building fees.

HOA and co-op fees are commonplace and can add a considerable amount onto your monthly payments. Make sure you won’t be surprised with fees as you’re moving in.

24. Research.

Your title agency should make sure the property is free and clear, but you may want to have a separate land survey done to make sure you know your boundaries. Don’t rely on the seller to give you accurate information.

25. Check on building permits in the neighborhood.

If possible, find out if there are any plans to build in the neighborhood. That way, you can avoid purchasing a home that will soon be adjacent to a pub if you’re not into the nightlife scene, a neighborhood park if you don’t have children, or wind up with any other unexpected neighbors.

26. Chat with neighbors.

Make friends with your neighbors!

Pop over and introduce yourself before making an offer. If you’ve selected your neighborhoods wisely, neighbors will be glad to walk you through what living in the area is like and will tell you everything they know about the property.

27. Have an independent inspection done.

Don’t rely on the appraisal performed by the lender. Make sure your contract allows you to choose a licensed engineer or architect and to cancel or renegotiate if the professional finds issues.

You’ll also need to verify what’s included in your inspection. Some do not cover things like pests, mold, or radon.

28. Have your agent determine a competitive offer.

This is one area where having an experienced agent or broker on your side really pays off. You’ll naturally want to give the seller an offer that’s tempting without overpaying for the property.

A great agent will also handle negotiations if you come in under or need to go back to the bargaining table over inspection issues.

After Move-In

29. Start a homeowner journal or binder.

You may think you’ll remember all the changes you make to the property, but as the years roll by, you won’t. You’ll forget which providers you used, what year you purchased appliances, and when you made major repairs.

Because of this, it’s a good idea to start a binder or a journal when you move in. Keep notes on insurance, repairs, costs, and other information.

Your binder will also come in handy when it’s time to sell too, as buyers love to know all the details, including who they can trust to handle repairs.

30. Don’t bite off more than you can chew.

You want the place to feel like home and suit your needs yesterday. Fair enough. However, if you start doing too many projects at once, you’ll wind up with none of it done and you’ll be living in a home that’s torn apart for ages.

Start small and tackle one repair at a time. You can add more on as you build up expertise.

Hire an Experienced NYC Moving Company

It’s always best to have an expert on your side, especially when you’re doing something for the first time.

For that reason, you should absolutely connect with a professional in real estate, law, finance, appraisals, and other specialty areas before making a big decision or taking advice from any source at face value.

At Metropolis Moving, we’re a professional NYC moving company, which means we can help make your local or long-distance move a breeze and are glad to answer all your moving-related questions.Contact us for a free moving quote.

Brooklyn offers spaces to escape from the city atmospher

Top 10 Brooklyn Neighborhoods

Over the last few decades, Brooklyn has been transformed into the hottest, trendiest borough in New York City. There’s been an influx of young families, young professionals, hipsters, and artists taking up residence in neighborhoods like Bushwick and Williamsburg.

When most outsiders think of living in New York City, they picture the excitement and luxury of living in the hustle and bustle of Manhattan, but Brooklyn has so many things to offer that make it a world-class destination in and of itself.

With the largest population of all NYC boroughs, it can be intimidating trying to find the right neighborhood to live in or visit, which is why we have compiled a list of our favorites.

1. Brooklyn Heights:


The Down Under Manhattan Bridge Overpass or DUMBO and Brooklyn Heights have been used for numerous Hollywood shots, and is a neighborhood where you will find some spectacular spots in the entire borough.

Iconic buildings of Manhattan are clearly visible when you walk down the Brooklyn Heights Promenade on way to the Waterfront Brooklyn Bridge Park.

The best pizza in NYC is available at Grimaldi’s Pizzeria, and you can get a good read at the PowerHouse Arena that is all about fashion, fine art and pop culture.

Not to mention housing is much more affordable in this hip enclave than in Manhattan.

2. Williamsburg:


For those with a creative bent, the L train is waiting to take you to Williamsburg.

The hipster, almost-gritty neighborhood is mostly crowded with artistic types who spend their time in the cool coffee joints or in Brooklyn Bowl, where live music, cocktails and bowling brighten up the nights.

You also get to shop at the boutiques on the Bedford Avenue and being a waterfront community you can easily use the East River Ferry to take you to Midtown or Wall Street.

New condos in Williamsburg are spacious and give you total value for money.

3. Park Slope:

Park Slope is a posh neighborhood that has to its credit brownstones and row houses worth millions of dollars.

It is a family-centric neighborhood where mostly Manhattan transplants and young professionals reside with access to sophisticated bodegas as well as delicious cuisine and craft beer.

The Union Hall is one-of-a-kind bar that covers 5000 square-feet with bookshelves and leather couches. You can also spend your mornings in Prospect Park (585 acre) while sipping on coffee from the Cafe Regular.

4. Greenpoint:


Greenpoint was once home to the Polish immigrants, but it now reflects of a mixture of both old and new cultures, opening its arms to indie bookshops, dive bars and unconventional galleries that stand beside historic storefronts, eateries of the Old World and various other stalwarts.

The McCarren Park, with options in swimming, ice skating (seasonal) and pick-up baseball, will help you burn down a few extra calories that you gain from pastry shops that offer handmade varieties of a wide range of desserts.

Greenpoint is home to some of the most fascinating condos and Williamsburg style houses, but the transportation is not very impressive, especially if you live in the northern part of this neighborhood.

5. Bedford-Stuyvesant:

The rich culture and history of this neighborhood has been an integral part of Bedford-Stuyvesant.

The Victorian architecture of the buildings and the exclusive street fairs and block parties have however stayed a part of this neighborhood over time.

Shop at Harold and Maude for vintage outfits and enjoy affordable organic meals at Eugene & Co. Bar Lunatico will light up your nights playing live music of all genres.

The neighborhood is worth investing your hard-earned money into.

6. Bushwick:

The vibrant and diversified neighborhood of Bushwick is home to various ethnicities. There is significant difference between the low-income housing projects and the prominent, wealthier areas of Bushwick.

The Memorial Gore Park is a historic site that offers relaxation in this neighborhood, but that does not mean that nightlife and good restaurants are lacking in this borough in any way.

People mostly opt to stay here because of convenient transportation (buses and trains) options to travel to Manhattan.

Metropolis Moving has chosen Bushwick as the location for their headquarters, so you can be assured that the neighborhood has the food, drink, and culture to rival any neighborhood in NYC.

7. Brighton Beach:


Although, this neighborhood lost its popularity as weekend playground post World War II, but the establishment of new enterprises have been able to restore Brighton Beach to its former glory.

The distinct culture of Russians is prevalent here with Central Europeans settling in this neighborhood. The public transportation includes buses and subway, taking as long as 1 hour to reach Manhattan. The beach may pose trouble for parking space, but all other facilities including medical and schools are highly impressive in Brighton Beach neighborhood.

8. Sheepshead Bay:


The Russians have a huge influence on the culture of Sheepshead Bay, however, today the diversity in the community is evident with Asians settling in this neighborhood.

This diversity is evident because of the restaurants and shops, mostly along the Emmons Avenue. Housing options in this waterfront community include co-ops, condos and 1 or 2 detached family homes.

While the public transportation is not varied, the Belt Parkway can be easily accessed from Sheepshead Bay.

9. Boerum Hill:


Boerum Hill has transformed from its notorious reputation for housing criminal activities, into one that is family-friendly and trendy.

The tight-knit community in this neighborhood is warm, friendly and work hard to keep the place clean and safe. Tudor private residences, brownstone and brick houses stand in the company of new upscale co-ops, apartment complexes and condos.

The traffic here is quite heavy on the Atlantic Avenue, but the rest of the neighborhood is peaceful.

10. Manhattan Beach:


An affluent neighborhood, Manhattan Beach houses a massive beach park and the Kingsborough Community College.

Most of the houses here are single-family houses with private garages and green lawns, with swimming pools in some of them. The unified and strong community in this town is built by families that have lived here for several generations.

With the ocean right next to your house, Manhattan Beach makes a pretty comfortable neighborhood for you.

There are many reasons to move to Brooklyn, including its colorful assortment of people, culture, food, and activities to enjoy. It would take a lifetime to truly experience it all. This borough is defined by creativity, community, and culture.

Now that you’re ready to move to Brooklyn, you need a trustworthy team of moving professionals to help you get settled into your new surroundings.

Check out our tips for minimizing stress while moving, then fill out our easy-to-use online form to request a quote from us.

Best Neighborhoods to Move to in Queens

New York City is a culturally diverse melting pot of people from all walks of life living together, and no borough is more representative of the melting pot than Queens.

With no major ethnic group holding a 50% majority in population, Queens is the most diverse urban area in the world.

This translates to a borough with world-class food and drink, and cultural experiences from all around the world right outside your door.

Queens is becoming an increasingly desirable place to live for New Yorkers.

For now, it is less expensive than the other boroughs, with unique attractions that New Yorkers from other boroughs overlook.

The diversity of cultures has resulted in Queens being named one of the food capitals of the world. Queens is also home to two beer gardens, numerous bars and nightclubs, and both of New York City’s major airports.

Places like Rockaway Beach and Astoria Park provide a natural escape within minutes of the hustle and bustle of the city. If you crave diversity of food, culture, experiences, and people, look no further than Queens.

With all the unique benefits that Queens has to offer, many are skipping the question of what borough to move to in New York City, and instead asking what are the best neighborhoods to move to in Queens.

In this post, we’ve compiled what we think are the 5 best neighborhoods to move to in Queens,New York.

Astoria

Astoria, Queens

Being a short subway ride away from Midtown, Astoria is gaining popularity among young professionals commuting to Manhattan and middle-class families.

Already a melting-pot of cultures, Astoria contains some of the best Greek food in New York City. Astoria is also home to the Bohemian Beer Hall and Garden, and Astoria Park, both of which are some of the nicest spots in New York City to be on a warm, sunny day.

The views of Manhattan are outstanding in this neighborhood, and the best part is that you can find a one-bedroom for $1000-$2000 per month, making Astoria perfect for people who want to spend their time in Manhattan and live affordably.

Bayside

Bayside, New York City

If you’re looking to raise a family within the bounds of New York City, look no further than Bayside. Most housing options are single-family homes, and the schools are excellent.

Tudors, ranches, colonials, and contemporary homes with meticulously landscaped lawns line the streets of this neighborhood.

The sense of community is strong here, and people take pride in fostering and maintaining the suburban, family-friendly feel. With ample parks, an 18-hole golf course, and nature centers, you can escape from the city without actually going anywhere.

Jamaica Estates

Jamaica Estates, New York

This affluent neighborhood is an ideal mix of city proximity with true countryside-like features. There was no ground leveling when it was first constructed, so the roads are windy, hilly, and unique.

Most of the housing offerings in Jamaica are freestanding tudors. The aim was to make the neighborhood reminiscent of an old English village. Most of the neighborhood remains hilly and tree-lined, as the developers had a vision of a residential park.

The neighborhood is much less diverse than the rest of Queens but is a quiet, forest-like escape within minutes of Manhattan.

Long Island City

Long Island City, New York

Long Island City is a rapidly growing, artsy neighborhood located right on the East River across from Manhattan.

It is the closest neighborhood to Manhattan in Queens, but residents don’t need to leave to experience a thriving food, art and culture scene.

MoMA PS1, the Noguchi Museum, Museum of the Moving Image, and Socrates Sculpture Park are all within Long Island City.

The neighborhood contains mostly luxury high-rise buildings, with median condo prices of $1.1 million and median rent prices around $2900/month.

Numerous options exist for commuting into Manhattan via the Subway, but as businesses start moving their offices here residents are finding they have less and less reason to leave the neighborhood at all.

Sunnyside

Sunnyside, New York City

Contrasting the glassy, luxury high-rise buildings of Long Island City, Sunnyside is an old-fashioned New York City neighborhood with brownstone 6-story apartment buildings and mom-and-pop businesses.

It is the best of classic NYC, without all the hype that makes it unaffordable. With a plethora of dining options and easy transportation to Manhattan, it is an extremely livable neighborhood.

Sunnyside Gardens is a planned garden-city community within the Sunnyside neighborhood with tree-lined streets containing suburban, mostly single-family homes. Average monthly rent is $1500-$3000, and median home prices for the neighborhood are around $200,000.

Queens is the Best of Both Worlds

The close proximity to Manhattan offers big city adventure just minutes away, with the ability to form a much stronger sense of community in a cultured and diverse array of different neighborhoods that suit nearly every taste. It is no wonder that Queens is one of the most populated, diverse urban areas in America.

If you’re considering moving to Queens, consider also taking some of the stress out of your move by letting us help. Request a Moving Quote today.

Cheapest Places to Live in New York City

Moving into the NYC area, or just moving between boroughs of NYC can be a huge transition.

Regardless of where you are in the process – just starting to consider a move, actively looking for housing in a new borough, or getting ready to sign a new lease – the amount of confusing and conflicting information out there can be overwhelming.

To help you narrow down the perfect borough for your budget we have researched the median annual housing costs and median annual incomes for renters and homeowners in each of the 5 boroughs.

We think it’s important to note that each borough has a range of both low and high income apartments and real estate – “the median”, like an average, is just a measure of what to expect in the middle.

With that in mind, for middle-class New Yorkers, we hope that this article will give you a better general sense of what kind of housing costs you can expect in each borough and what kind of incomes your neighbors might have.

Median Mortgage and Income for Homeowners in NYC by Borough

Median Income

Median Mortgage

Manhattan

$142,050

$36,250 (~$3,020/m)

Brooklyn

$83,700

$31,900 (~$2,650/m)

Queens

$80,150

$29,250 (~$2,400/m)

Staten Island

$80,150

$28,750 (~$2,400/m)

Bronx

$76,450

$28,550 (~$2,375/m)

Median Rent and Income for Renters in NYC by Borough

Median Income

Median Rent

Manhattan

$62,173

$18,900 (~$1,575/m)

Brooklyn

$40,125

$15,100 (~$1,250/m)

Queens

$46,550

$16,800 (~$1,400/m)

Staten Island

$46,550

$14,300 (~$1,200/m)

Bronx

$29,300

$13,175 (~$1,100/m)

Rent-To-Income Ratio for Renters in Each NYC Borough

Median Rent to Income Ratio

Manhattan

30.4%

Brooklyn

37.6%

Queens

36.1%

Staten Island

30.7%

Bronx

45%

Manhattan Housing Costs

 

Renters:

Homeowners:

Median Annual Housing Cost:

$18,900 (~$1,575 per month)

$36,250 (~$3,020 per month)

Median Annual Income:

$62,173

$142,050

 

Of the 5 Boroughs, Manhattan has both the highest incomes and the highest housing costs. Homeowners in Manhattan are doing particularly well – making almost 130% more than renters do.

However, despite this divide, renters still enjoy NYC’s lowest rent-to-income burden because Manhattan’s median income is so much higher than the NYC average.

If you’re considering moving to Manhattan you can expect to pay more for housing than you might in the other boroughs. If you work in Manhattan or have a good income that you can count on – this could be the borough for you!

Brooklyn Housing Costs:

Renters:

Homeowners:

Median Annual Housing Cost:

$15,100 (~$1,250 per month)

$31,900 (~$2,650 per month)

Median Annual Income:

$40,125

$83,700

Brooklyn is a very exciting place to live, one of the fastest growing boroughs. However, our findings show that the residents incomes haven’t really caught up with the growth.

Both renters and buyers earn less than the NYC median income despite facing higher respective housing costs. For homeowners, Brooklyn has the highest housing-cost-to-income burden. And the income burden for renters is quite high as well, with renters in Brooklyn earning an average of $20,000 dollars less per year than Manhattanites.

If you’re considering moving to Brooklyn, you can expect to pay a little less for housing than you would in Manhattan but more than you would in any of the other boroughs.

That said, Brooklyn is a very exciting place and a short subway ride away from downtown Manhattan, so if you want to stay close to the action, this could be the borough for you.

Queens Housing Costs:

Renters:

Homeowners:

Median Annual Housing Cost:

$16,800 (~$1,400 per month)

$29,250 (~$2,400 per month)

Median Annual Income:

$46,550

$80,150

The costs of renting and owning in Queens are the closest to the citywide medians of all the boroughs, making Queens one of the top choices for middle-class New Yorkers.

The median renter in Queens earns slightly more than the citywide median income but also faces slightly greater housing costs.

Queens is also the largest of the 5 boroughs, so if you’re considering a move to this area, you can expect to find a lot of options, including high, low, and mid-ranged housing.

Staten Island Housing Costs:

Renters:

Homeowners:

Median Annual Housing Cost:

$14,300 (~$1,200 per month)

$28,750 (~$2,400 per month)

Median Annual Income:

$46,550

$80,150

Renters in Staten Island have it tough, facing the second-lowest incomes in the city and scarce housing opportunities. On the other hand, homeowners on Staten Island have it quite good, enjoying some of the cities highest incomes and lowest costs for homeownership.

If you are looking for a place to rent, but have an income around or below the average here, this might not be the borough for you. However, if you’re looking to be a homeowner, this is the place to be.

Bronx Housing Costs:

Renters:

Homeowners:

Median Annual Housing Cost:

$13,175 (~$1,100 per month)

$28,550 (~$2,375 per month)

Median Annual Income:

$29,300

$76,450

Renters and owners in the Bronx earn the least of any borough and also face the lowest absolute housing costs. However, they are still significantly burdened by them.

The borough has the highest median-rent-to-income ratio in all of NYC, at 45%, meaning that the average earner in the median apartment pays a staggering 45% of their annual income in rent.

If you are considering a move to this borough, you can expect the lowest housing costs of any of the boroughs. However, if you don’t have a job, you may want to consider looking for work in a different borough, as you can also expect the lowest incomes in this borough.

We hope this article was helpful! And when you decide on the borough for you, let us know, so we can help you make you transition as smooth as possible.