Ask an expert: two-for-one special

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 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