A reporter from NYPost, shares his experience is searching for his first apartment in Manhattan. He points out some of his early mistakes like going from broker to broker and neighborhood to neighborhood without first getting a pre approval. In the end, he had an accepted offer and backed out on that property before purchasing in a condo conversion in Upper Manhattan.
He advises with the help of real estate brokers cited in the article to
1- Decide on a nabe
2- Get a pre approval
3- Find a buyer broker
Also I would add to choose your real estate attorney well. Usually your buyer broker can help you with that. A real estate attorney usually chages around $2500 or so but some that do excellent work can be found for as little as $1250-$1500.
Additionally, beyond getting the pre approval make sure that the bank will finance in the building that you choose. Some buildings have sponsors that still own more than 10% of the shares(co-ops) or the apartments(condos) or a higher than usual percentage of tenants. This can complicate financing and is an area very often overlooked by many real estate brokers. This as a buyer can cost you time and money and add streess. So vet the building with your lender to avoid all of that! What are your tips for a first time buyer?