Just as renting is competitive in New York, so is buying. On top of the competitive nature of finding the right home, is the current economic slump in America. Lending is difficult to come by as the banks have tightened up regulations. Average prices for a home in the New York area average at $405,000. Within the city, prices are bucking the downward trend of the rest of the United States the average price has skyrocketed up 28% in 2008 to $853,000. Trulia.com/home_prices/map/ gives the latest averages for listings in an easy to read map.
Real Estate laws and contracts can be complex and it is recommended that you consult a real estate agent and lawyer before buying property. Advertisements for these agents can be found practically everywhere (www.yellowpages.com/New-York-NY, newyork.citysearch.com/) but is important to retain people you can trust as they will be handling a huge financial investment.
It is also a good idea to research homes on your own to see what you like and don't like, as well as get a better understanding of what different neighborhoods and housing have to offer. Some websites that will help acquaint you with a variety of homes are: www.trulia.com/NY/New_York/, www.citi-habitats.com/, www.cityrealty.com/, nymag.com/realestate/, and http://newyork.craigslist.org/rea/.
There are several different housing situations within New York. Two of the most common are the condominium ( co-ownership ) or the cooperative (residents are jointly responsible for the building and units).
A condo: purchaser buys the apartment outright from the seller. Once bought, you own the place. Ownership, in this case, entitles you to do with your apartment whatever you desire. You can make any number of reasonable improvements to your place, live there yourself, rent it to others, or sell it at any time and at any price to whomever is willing to buy.
A co-op: a co-op is a real estate arrangement allows the people living there to buy a share in the building or "housing corporation". Though they own their own apartment, the other residents have a say in who may buy into the building, what changes can be made to the apartments and building, and usually have meetings concerning apartment affairs. A "Co-op Board", meets and confers about all changes of the building and residents.