What to Look for When Shopping Tribeca Properties for Sale

What to Look for When Shopping Tribeca Properties for Sale

  • Caryl Berenato
  • 06/7/22

Tribeca is one of New York city's most sought-after neighborhoods. It is nestled in Lower Manhattan and known for being a hip and chic place to live. The neighborhood is paved by cobblestone streets that are accompanied by trendy shops and restaurants. It is full of warehouses that have been converted to residential units, giving the neighborhood a unique architectural flair. But Tribeca's real claim to fame is that it is one of the best places to raise a family in New York City.

Being one of the most desirable places to live in the world, shopping for real estate in Tribeca can be intimidating. High sales prices are the norm, and bidding wars are common. This can make buyers feel rushed into buying, causing them to overlook important elements to look for. Lucky for you, we wrote this guide to explain what you should look for when shopping for Tribeca houses.

Condos, co-ops, townhouses, and brownstones

New York City has unique real estate options, and that includes Tribeca. Buyers in the area will have four fundamental choices: condos, co-ops, townhouses, and brownstones. Understanding what makes each type unique and knowing which you prefer should be the first step in gauging what to look for in Tribeca real estate.

Condos


Buying Manhattan Condos will be similar to condo buying in other parts of the country. A buyer will own the actual apartment unit, plus a percentage of the shared areas throughout the building. The buyer receives a title by deed, which is maintained by the New York County Clerk. Official mortgage documents will also be maintained by the County Clerk's office.
 
Nearly all condominiums in Tribeca come with some form of a homeowners' association (HOA). By purchasing the condo, you are now a member of the association. The association will provide certain services to the building, like routine maintenance, and it collects a monthly fee.
 
A condo is considered real property, meaning it comes along with property taxes and higher closing costs than co-ops. Some mortgages may contain property taxes within their payment structures.
 
Condos tend to have higher prices per square footage and entail more legal responsibilities than co-ops. However, condo buyers tend to get a quicker approval response. Additionally, condo owners have more rights, like being able to transfer deeds to family members and having more authority over building maintenance issues. In most cases, owners of Manhattan condos will have lower monthly common charges.

Co-ops

Photo courtesy of 6sft
 
If you are new to Tribeca real estate, condos and co-ops may appear identical on the surface, but there are some key legal differences that must be considered.
 
A co-op—short for cooperative—is legally a corporation and made up of shareholders that own the residential building. Membership in the corporation is awarded when someone buys a share. Rather than actually owning the unit, buyers are technically tenants who own a share in the co-op.  The building is subject to property taxes, and this is usually paid by monthly fees assessed to tenants.
 
While there are about 75% more co-ops than condos in the Big Apple, there are more condos actively listed at any given time, and new constructions are almost exclusively condos. By proxy, co-ops tend to be in older, pre-World War 2 buildings. Additionally, co-ops are about 9% cheaper than condos in terms of cost per square foot.
 
Unlike Manhattan condos, becoming a tenant in a co-op is more selective. Shareholders screen prospective tenants through their co-op board, and prospective buyers can be rejected without reason.
 
Generally, co-ops are cheaper than condos but have stricter financial requirements for approval. Additionally, co-ops tend to be quite restrictive on renting, subleasing, or placing a unit on Airbnb. This tends to lead to a more neighborly feeling within co-ops when compared to condo buildings. Many tenants plan on laying down roots versus an endless rotation of renters found in condos.
 
Co-ops can be harder to purchase for foreign buyers. They have stricter record-keeping requirements, which can create challenges for international buyers. Finally, many co-ops do not permit anonymous buying from LLCs.

Townhouses


Townhouses are 2-5 story freestanding buildings. They provide greater square footage than most condos or co-ops, making them a popular choice for families and high-end buyers. Townhouses provide more private living and may even include a private garden. Generally, Manhattan townhouses for sale tend to be more narrow than townhouses in other real estate markets in the US. Townhouses in Tribeca are likely to have an 8-figure price tag.
 
Buying Manhattan townhouses for sale will be similar to buying a condo because there are no boards that need to authorize a purchase. The biggest downside with townhomes is that they have a higher purchase price, and most townhouse owners are on their own to resolve maintenance issues. However, this leaves townhouse owners with complete control over all maintenance decisions.

Brownstones

Like townhomes, brownstones are freestanding residential units. What makes a brownstone a brownstone is a matter of opinion. Typically, brownstones are considered to be constructed from brownstone and tend to be more luxurious than townhouses. If a property is marketed as a brownstone, it is likely to have a more decorative facade and elegant interior.  Still, you will find many New Yorkers who consider brownstones and townhouses to be the same thing.

Hit the streets

Now that you know what type of Tribeca real estate you want, it's time to explore the neighborhood and see which area you want to live in. Look for things like bus stops, train stations, cleanliness of areas, noise levels, access to shops, schools, parks, and whatever else you deem most important.
 
Since most Tribeca real estate shopping is done in the warmer months, it's important to keep in mind how things will look when covered in snow. You might be willing to walk several blocks to the subway station when the weather is nice, but that can change when temperatures are below freezing.

Inspections

Getting a professional home inspection is generally mandatory for townhouses or brownstones, but it's more ambiguous with Manhattan condos and co-ops. Inspections are usually conducted between the acceptance of an offer and the contract signing. Different real estate experts have their own opinions if they are necessary for condos or co-ops.
 
Since expensive repairs for the roofing or facade are spread across the co-op or homeowners association, many would argue that inspections aren't worth the hassle. On the other hand, an inspection can help let you know what problems may lay ahead, especially in older buildings. Ultimately, you should consult with your realtor to help determine if an inspection is recommended and to be connected to a reputable licensed inspector.
 
At the very least, you should conduct your own informal inspection when attending showings. Note how many flights of stairs you may need to climb up to your apartment and if that is something you can tolerate every day. If you can, chat with the neighbors to see if it's the type of place you feel like you'd fit in. Talk to the doorman and superintendent, and ask them how they deal with disputes. Gauge their friendliness and professionalism. All this can go a long way in assessing the quality of your future living arrangement.

Assemble your dream team

The most helpful thing when looking for your dream Tribeca real estate is surrounding yourself with professionals who advocate for your best interests. This entails working with an expert luxury New York City realtor.
 
Finding the right Tribeca houses to buy can be an exhausting process, but it’s much easier when you have a dedicated realtor on your side. Caryl Berenato is a veteran luxury New York City real estate broker. With over three decades of experience in the New York City luxury real estate market, Caryl and her team have unparalleled knowledge of Tribeca and other popular neighborhoods. If you are looking to buy real estate in Tribeca, contact Caryl today. Check out our blog for the latest news on Manhattan real estate and fun things to do in the city.



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Caryl built an unparalleled knowledge base and tool kit of resources to address any obstacles that may arise, and she has a strong network of professional contacts she readily shares with her clients.