Ask an expert: two-for-one special

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When I announced that we have financial experts available to field your real-estate queries, I figured I would pluck the most interesting example each day and post that. Then we had such a crush of requests (and our experts were sufficiently generous) that I'm giving you two right now and perhaps more before the day is out. Keep the questions coming (to onlineeditor@timeoutny.com) and we'll keep giving you the free advice (until Wednesday—then you're screwed).

Hi. I am in the following situation:
Income = $250k
Current monthly rent = $2,400
Savings = $50k

Do you think I should continue to rent or buy?

—Paul, Manhattan

Experts' take: It would depend on the quality of apartment you could find for approximately $500,000. A mortgage of approximately $450,000 (if you emptied your savings) would be tax effective to the point that it's roughly equivalent to paying $2,400/mo in rent. Also, at your income level you need deductions, and your tax situation improves dramatically if you buy.

I really want to buy in Manhattan, and it seems I'm looking at a minimum of $400K for a place I would feel good about. The problem is I'm only about 1/2 way to the $80K it would take to put 20% down—even less when you figure in closing costs and such. What are my chances of getting in somewhere for 10% or even less down?

—Annemarie, Mannhattan

Experts' take: If your credit is good, lenders will consider even 100% financing. To pursue this, your score should be in the area of 700.

Answers provided by Robert Gordon, a mortgage broker with Mortgage Max, LLC, and Francis O'Day a personal accountant with the firm James O'Day, CPA

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