The process of buying a home in the city is daunting, to say the least. Beyond the financial aspects, you may need to prepare for the dreaded co-op board interview.
I bought and sold a co-op years ago, but was also turned down once by a co-op board back in the day. (Me? The nerve!)
I chalk it up as one of those “only in New York” experiences, but I wouldn’t wish that on anyone.
So I recently asked Jim Winters, a real estate broker with the Corcoran Group in New York City, for tips on the co-op interview.
If you are asked for an interview with the co-op board, does that mean you are good as approved?
You are 75% of the way home. Most boards won’t waste their time (or yours) with an interview, if they, or the managing agent, aren’t happy with the application.
Do you have any tips for the co-op interview itself?
Yes, there are three, in particular, that I ask my clients to remember:
- Review your application
- Arrive on Time
- Never Ask Questions
1. Review Your Application.
Candidates will be expected to answer questions about their application quickly and accurately, so we always stress that they review their application and bring a copy with them to the interview.
2. Arrive on Time.
This sounds ridiculously simple, but I can’t tell you how many stories I’ve heard about candidates arriving 10 to 30 minutes late. The corollary to this is do not arrive early. The interviews are often times conducted in someone’s apartment and it can be unnerving to know that you still have to wait 10 minutes for the rest of the board to show up.
3. Never Ask Questions.
So, this is the suggestion I get the most pushback about because people have lots of questions for the board. For example, they want to know when the co-op is going to replace the building’s windows. When the exercise room is to be completed? When is the maintenance going up? Are there any assessments? When will they be able to start our gut renovation? Etc.
I always try to explain that the purpose of the board interview is to decide whether they are going to become a member of the co-op – not the other way around. Candidates need to allow the board to ask questions and conduct the interview. It’s what the board members have prepared for. Also, long before our clients begin shopping for a purchase we make sure they understand that the board interview is not the time to decide if they want to purchase the apartment. Any questions they have should have been answered during the due diligence phase of the transaction.
What is due diligence?
Due Diligence refers to the inspection of the co-op apartment and those common elements that a shareholder will co-own, maintain, and pay for through their monthly maintenance charges. The physical building, the land, the property taxes, the leased commercial space, the doorman’s salary, and the parking garage, are all examples of common elements in a co-op. During the due diligence phase, the buyer’s real estate attorney will review the co-op’s legal and financial documents, any available meeting minutes, and the contract of sale from the seller’s attorney. A building inspector is also often hired to help suss out any mechanical issues with the apartment or building.
Thanks for the tips, Jim! I bet people ask the wrong questions all the time!
Jim Winters works as a licensed real estate broker in Brooklyn and began his career in 2004. He started the website, From The Stoop to share his real estate experience, give advice, and educate the public.
Jim has lived in Brooklyn for 23 years. He can be contacted through the Corcoran website here or you can find him early mornings along Eastern Parkway walking some combination of children and dogs.
Jim Winters is not affiliated with Raymond James Financial Services. Any opinions are those of Jim Winters and not necessarily those of RJFS or Raymond James.
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