If you’re living in New York City and you’ve been living in the same apartment for many years there’s a good chance that your landlord might offer to buy you out. The reasons for making such an offer could vary, but in many cases it’s because they want to renovate the apartment so that it will be in better condition and will be more valuable.
Most likely, the landlord wants you to move out so he can rent the apartment to a new tenant for more money. He may give you the option to continue renting the apartment but will ask for a rent increase.
In case this happens to you the very first rule is to never mention how much you want for the buyout. Like with all good sales processes, “he who speaks first loses.” In other words, it’s always better to have the other party offer you a price first so that you can have them increase it if it's not satisfactory to you.
Your landlord is the only one who knows the true market value for your apartment; you can only guess. So, most likely he’ll offer you a price that is well below the true price.
Take the case of Herbert Sukenik who was the last remaining tenant of the Mayflower Hotel before it was bought and sold to a large investment company. While all other long-term tenants had settled for million dollar payouts, Mr. Sukenik held out and eventually was offered a new two-million-dollar apartment overlooking Central Park and a check for 17 million dollars.
While this example is clearly an exception to the normal buyout conditions, this story is a wonderful example of why it’s best to hold out as long as possible and to never be the first one to name a buyout price.
If you’re unable to settle on a price then it’s always a good idea to find a real estate lawyer who can help you. While most lawyers won’t charge you for their services until the deal is done, you’ll usually need to pay them a retainer of some sort. In many cases, having a lawyer will always help you get the best deal.