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Meet Nikki Thomas: The Real Estate Agent and Blogger Making It Easier for First Time Buyers in New York City

Recently, the New York Minute Magazine team got the chance to chat with Nikki Thomas, a badass real estate agent, blogger, and creator of the First Time Buyer Bootcamp, a step-by-step guide for those looking to buy for the first time in NYC. In the featured interview, she discusses how she came to create her First Time Buyer Bootcamp, her methods, and her love for the city that never sleeps. 

NYMM: How do you juggle a full-time job and being a badass blogger?

Nikki Thomas: Being my own boss certainly helps. Although I do admittedly slack just a little bit from time to time when it comes to blogging. I try to balance it out by scheduling time every couple of weeks to write posts.

NYMM: Since our mission here at NYMM is female empowerment, can you tell us a bit about why owning property is a feminist issue? How does owning a home empower women?

NT: Property ownership can (and often is) an important part of wealth creation. The Survey of Consumer Finances from 2016 shows that the average homeowner has a household wealth of $231,420, while the average renter has a household wealth of $5,200. And in 2017, the New York Times noted in an investigative piece on homeownership and inequality that the average homeowner had a net worth of $195,400, which was 36 times that of the average renter’s net worth of $5,400. These are huge differences.

Women tend to lag behind men when it comes to wealth creation and not just because of the income gap. As recently as last year, the Washington Post reported that women own just 32 cents to every dollar owned by men. So it stands to reason that if homeownership is a tool that could be used for wealth creation, then it’s also a tool that can be used to help close the gender wealth gap 

NYMM:  I love the client testimonials, especially the ones from women buying their first home, on your website! Speaking of first time buyers, can you tell us about your new boot-camp?

NT: My First Time Buyer Bootcamp is a series of emails with daily action items that are intended to help would-be buyers figure out the key things they need to know to determine whether buying a home makes sense for them. I walk them step by step through the process of getting a sense of their overall financial picture, how to estimate what kind of down payment they could afford, the different types of property ownership such as co-ops and condos and the “gut check” questions they should be asking themselves before they decide to take the plunge. I also talk about some of the potential drawbacks of owning a home because, surprise! Homeownership actually isn’t always better than renting in some circumstances.

NYMM: I can’t believe this amazing course is free! Is having this mega-important information accessible to everyone important to you?

NT: YES! Over the years, I noticed that my clients found the process of buying their first home to be really frustrating and overwhelming. This was mostly because they had no idea where to start or what to expect. And it dawned on me that they weren’t just looking for guidance about the home buying process. They wanted to know how they could figure out if they should even start the process in the first place.

There’s a lot of info out there already about buying a home. But I noticed there wasn’t a lot out there that discuss, in-depth, what folks should do to prepare to buy a home.

I also felt like there wasn’t enough out there that spoke directly to the unique circumstances of New York City. This city is so different from other American cities. Not just in terms of prices, but even process. The rules here are very different.

I also thought to myself, who has time to rummage through the internet looking for answers? What about something more convenient? Something that could be delivered straight to people’s inboxes? Something that focused on New York City, specifically?

And that was the genesis of this program.

NYMM: Why do you think first-time clients are intimidated by buying property?

NT: First of all, it’s New York City. That fact alone is intimidating. But probably the scariest part is the price point. We all constantly hear sensational news stories about million-dollar and multi-million dollar homes here in the city. So hearing those eye-popping numbers can make the idea of homeownership seem like it’s completely unattainable. It’s true that it’s a lot tougher here than in other places, but with planning, it CAN actually happen. Unbeknownst to a lot of people, the vast majority of sales in this city happen under the $1 million mark with a healthy chunk under $600K even.

NYMM: Just like NYMM, you are also based in New York City. Have any tips for property hunting in the Big Apple?

NT: Hire me before you start looking! Haha!

But seriously, my top tip is to explore neighborhoods in person. Nothing beats hitting the pavement and experiencing a place for yourself. Sure, you can find out a lot of useful information online, but you can’t really tell what a place is going to feel like sitting on your couch.

And also, get pre-approved BEFORE you start looking for places to buy. Not pre-qualified. Pre-approved. There’s a difference. You need approval based on your actual income and your credit history. You don’t want to fall in love with a place and then find out you can’t afford it. That’s truly a crappy feeling!

NYMM: You even have an entire guide to the city! Why do you love New York so much? What makes New York special?

NT: Aw man, that’s hard to distill into a single paragraph.

This city is truly like none other. There is a place and space for everyone, and the city is so rich because of it. I can’t really think of anything that I love that’s not here, except for mountains. And thanks to its proximity to the Hudson Valley, that’s easily fixed. Its heart beats 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. If you want action, you can find it. If you want peace and calm, shockingly, you can find that too (if you know where to look). And goodness knows whatever you want to eat and drink, you can find that too.

NYMM: Now for a fun question! What’s your New Year’s resolution?NT: I’ve actually stopped doing resolutions, per se. I don’t like the “pass/fail” nature of them. Instead, I think I tend to set intentions. My intention for 2020 is improvement: improved health, improved relationships, and improved business! 

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