Advice on CapNY’s Hot Market, From 3 First-Time Home Buyers

Many CapNY millennials are finding great single family properties with mortgage payments that are lower than what they were paying in rent.
However, with low inventories and fast sales, there can be significant challenges for first-time buyers.
Let’s dive into three recent success stories from across the region.

Are you a First-Time Home Buyer in CapNY?

CapNY’s first-time home buyers face many challenges and a significant learning curve! Three recent home buyers offer their tips for navigating this hot market with less stress and more success.

The Market is Hot – Be Patient!

Couple in Troy, NY with dog

Laura Kipper, 26 year-old owner of Kipper Consulting, and her husband, Nick Cocilova, 27 year-old supervisor for biotech production at Regeneron, were living in a 2-bedroom apartment on Washington Park in downtown Troy. They loved the location, but it came with a steep $1400/month rent. “Plus, we adopted a dog and knew we wanted more land for her,” explained Laura. The couple now has a total of 3 dogs and 2 cats. “The idea of building equity in our own home rather than paying rent just made sense to us. We wanted a starter place that we could fix up and make money on. And, we wanted to stay in Troy.” 

“Interest rates have never been lower, which is great,” Laura said. However, the downside is “the market is absolutely insane. Houses are flying off the market in a day or two because inventory is so low.” They were outbid several times. Laura recommends looking for advantages like being more diligent during winter months, when it’s typically slower. “There is definitely a feeling of pressure to put offers in even if the house isn’t perfect. But it’s really important to be patient and wait for the right house for YOU.”

Work Directly with Owners

Milennial home buyer

For 28-year-old first-time home buyer Megan Lee, a field support representative for IDEXX,  the process of buying a home was relatively smooth. “I had started the process earlier this year. I moved back to New York after living in Mystic, CT,” she explained. It was an easy decision. “If I was going to put money into where I live, I’d prefer it be mine at the end of the day,” Megan said. 

“While looking at homes, I saw they were coming off the market so quickly, at times even within hours,” said Megan. “It’s a seller’s market. And it was hard not to be disappointed.” She narrowed her search to Colonie and Malta, because she felt they offered lower taxes. Megan lucked out when a house right across the street from her childhood home in Colonie became available. She introduced herself to the owner and, “it was a quick meeting. We agreed on a price, and it was a pretty smooth process from there.”

They handled it as a private sale. “The process was very straight forward,” explained Megan “My house is close to everything, including family, friends, and coworkers. I could not be happier with my decision now that I am in my home!”

Mortgage Approval Was Surprisingly Within Reach

Family on front porch

“Before my home purchase, I was living in a one bedroom apartment, paying $1100 a month,” said Tatiana Monet, the 25-year-old Founder of Home Aesthetic and Real Estate Investor. After her boyfriend Tayvon Taylor moved in, they decided it would be more practical to look for a home. “I think people don’t realize how possible it is to buy a home,” explained Tatiana. “Everyone thinks you have to have $100,000 in the bank. That’s not the case at all.”

She ended up going to a lender out of curiosity to see what she would be approved for. “We got approved for $250,000, which was interesting because at the time I only made $13.50 an hour. That just shows how easy and affordable it is,” explained Tatiana. 

Houses were selling very quickly, and she kept being outbid on houses she really liked. “On a random day, my boyfriend found a house online that we both loved. We ended up getting it for way below asking price.” According to Tatiana, you have to act fast with those unique opportunities. The previous owner had passed away, and his family wanted to just sell the property quickly, for cash.

“At the moment, there are not many homes on the market, and the ones that are for sale are extremely competitive,” said Tatiana. “You have to be ready to act quickly.”

Consider A Fixer-Upper

Remodel of kitchen
Laura and Nick did a whole remodel on their kitchen and continue renovating many parts of their home

As a real estate agent, Tatiana has seen just how hot the market is. “I had a client that wanted a home, and we went to put a bid in on it. There were 72 people that already viewed the house. 50 of them put in an offer.” Tatiana’s advice to a first-time home buyer in CapNY would be to get a fixer-upper. “Even if you’re not savvy, you could buy a house that’s $100,000. Then you put in $20,000 worth of contract work to get the aesthetic you want, you can live in it. Or resell it at a profit.” She sees so many people moving from New York City amazed by CapNY’s affordability. “I had someone paying $1,400 for a tiny studio in NYC, and, here, $1,400 will get you a luxury apartment or a home,” explained Tatiana. 

“This area has beautiful historic homes with great bones for great prices. I think a lot of millennials and Gen Zs are nervous. They don’t want to blow their entire savings on an expensive home. The median range is somewhere around $150,000 in most areas, for a three bed, two bath!” A bit of imagination can go a long way, she says, “so [first-time home buyers should] look for the possibilities that a renovation could bring.” 

jess kelly

Written by: Jessica Kelly

Jess is a journalist and photographer with a focus on food, travel, and entertainment. She’s written for over 10 different local publications in New York State, in addition to the Huffington Post, Cosmopolitan, AAA Northeast, Eater, Dame Traveler, Food52, Insider, Wine Enthusiast, Kitchn, AAA World Magazine, Thrillist, and more. Follow her adventures on Instagram @Adventures.Are.Waiting.