The Co-op Board Interview: Tips to Help Pass a Coop Board Interview

By
Real Estate Agent with The Corcoran Group

A co-op is a form of home ownership that is different than owning real property such as a condo or a house. In a coop each unit is allocated shares. The purchaser buys the shares in the housing corporation. Co-ops are corporations with a board of directors and shareholders. Coops are unique to NYC in the fact that approximately 75% of our properties for sale are co-ops.

When a co-op rejects a purchaser many people are affected. Not only the buyer. The brokers do not get paid. The sellers who have a deposit on a new home might have to forfeit their deposit. And the sellers of the new home that the first seller is buying will lose their buyer.

This post has been updated to reflect the current emphasis on anti-discrimination requirements

Here are some tips to help pass a coop board interview:

    • Being called for an interview is a good sign it means you look good on paper.
    • Be on time, dress appropriate for the building and neighborhood. Conservative is best.
    • Bring a copy of the board package with you. Be familiar with all your financials and everything in the board package.
    • Coop boards are stricter than banks, don't assume because you have a commitment from a bank you will satisfy the coops financial requirements. Be able to substantiate questions about your package.
    • More is less do not elaborate and ask questions, an innocent question might offend a board member. 
    • It is better to have a short interview than a long one.
    • Do not go into details about elaborate and costly renovations.
    • If the apartment has outdoor space do not discuss barbequing, it is illegal and smells.
    • Do not ask questions or bring up sublet policy or pet policy uless the board brings it up.
    • It is not a job interview, you don't have to try and sell yourself.
    • Let the board ask the questions, set the tone and conduct the interview.
    • Boards like candidates willing to volunteer to serve on the board or building committees.
    • Boards look for candidates that will "fit in" and follow rules.
    • Don't ask or expect a decision on the spot they will notify you within a few days.
  • Be prepared for a lack of privacy and to answer personal questions unless they are Fair Housing /NYC Human Rights violations.
  • The NYC Human Rights Law prohibits housing discrimination in New York City based on a person's real or perceived race, color, national origin, gender, creed, disability, sexual orientation, marital status, partnership status, alienage or citizenship status, age, lawful occupation or because children may be or will be residing with you.

This year there has been a push in the brokerage community for a strict interpretation of Fair Housing Laws. Brokers can no longer ask clients if they are married or how many kids they have and what they do for a living. Questions that were routinely asked by brokers and coop boards are no longer acceptable.  

Under current NYC law co-ops do not have to give a reason why they reject a buyer. There is a bill currently pending in the city council that will require coops to give a reason in writing why they rejected a buyer.

According to The NY Timesopponents of the bill REBNY (Real Estate Board of New York) and the NY council of cooperatives and condominiums together have developed a two-page sheet on anti-discrimination requirements that they recommend be included in every application that goes before a co-op board. They also have put together a sheet on "buyer's rights" that they recommend be given to every co-op applicant. I have yet to see such a sheet in any coop application. 

It is illegal for a coop to discriminate. The most recent NYC protected class is lawful occupation. Coops are prohibited by law from asking an applicants occupation. They can ask where you work and your salary. They will require pay stubs and tax returns but should not ask your occupation or any questions concerning your occupation, age, familial status or any questions about the above mentioned protected classes. Any questions along those lines opens them to discrimination law suits. Coop boards and their directors can be sued for discrimination by any of the above 14 protected classes.

It remains to be seen if coops will adhere to these strict anti-discrimination guidelines. IMHO as long as coops are not accountable and operate in secrecy discrimination will continue in spite of NYC Fair Housing Laws.

Time Out New York: How To Be The Perfect Candidate

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Neighborhood Relocation Guides:

Courtesy of:

©Mitchell Hall 2006-2009

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Show All Comments
Rainer
106,804
David Eiglarsh
Eiglarsh Realty - Weston, FL
CRS
Hi Michell, Great advice! While we don't have a whole lot of co-ops here in South Florida, the few I've been involved with are so difficult to get clients approved. Usually the threat of lawsuit does the trick! Up by you I know how difficult it must be. One of our closest family friends (both husband & wife) are high profile attorneys (she's with the NHL) were rejected by a co-op. Super nice people to (even for attorneys). Go figure!
August 25, 2006 01:30 PM #1
Rainmaker
508,210
Mitchell J Hall
The Corcoran Group - Manhattan, NY
Lic Associate RE Broker - Manhattan, NYC

Thanks David,

The only way to sue here is for discrimination. Coops are not required to give reasons why they reject someone. Some buildings love attorney's because they make great board members and some buildings fear them that they will sue everytime the elevator doesn't work. You never know what they are looking for.

September 20, 2007 08:40 PM #2
Rainer
425,857
Maureen Francis & Dmitry Koublitsky
SKBK Sotheby's International Realty - Birmingham, MI
SKBK Sothebynulls - Metro Detroit

Mitchell,

Very interesting. 

I have done one co-op sale here.  They are rare.  Indeed, so rare, that when another agent in our office was about to list a co-op a few months after I closed on my deal, our broker told him to "go ask Maureen.  She knows all about co-ops."  He is an excellent broker with decades of experience.   

September 13, 2006 10:16 PM #3
Rainer
2,871
Jeffrey Loyd
HSBC Bank USA, N.A. - Manhattan, NY
Nice overview of the coop board interview. One correction, though, cooperatives are not unique to NYC. They are more prevalent in NYC, but they exist in New Jersey, Chicago, Florida, and Massachusetts to my knowledge.
March 17, 2007 02:41 PM #4
Rainmaker
46,013
Sarah Nopp
South Sound, WA
There is only one Co-op here in Thurston County, as far as I know. But definitely some in Seattle. Maybe in Tacoma area too. But I think we will be seeing more ownership types coming very soon. That is what the MLS attorneys are telling us.
So it might be time for us to dust off those What is a Title books LOL
October 12, 2007 01:14 AM #5
Anonymous
Anonymous
K.L.Barnes

Mitchell,

Thank you for the very informative information.  I am going through the process right now and was amazed to learn how much detailed financial information the board requires.  It almost feels like an invasion of my privacy.  It is uncomfortable to know that every board member (strangers) will have a copy of all my banking information and my social security number. Any clue as to where all the copies of the board package goes after closing?

June 01, 2011 02:01 AM #6
Rainmaker
508,210
Mitchell J Hall
The Corcoran Group - Manhattan, NY
Lic Associate RE Broker - Manhattan, NYC

K.L. Barnes,

Your welcome. Unfortunately coop boards do invade privacy and they are not accountable since they are not required by law to give a reason for a board turn down. Not to mention the total waste of paper that goes into the usual minimum 7 collated copies and an original. The brokerage community has been advocating the use of a standarized electronic form for years.

I shred board packages after closings. I only keep the contract of sale and lead paint disclosure on file that is required by NY state. I also black out account numbers except the last four digits when I submit a board package. Sometimes I will black out all account numbers and private information except on the original.

Most boards and management companies should be aware of privacy issues and identity fraud. Hopefully they shred sensitive documents too. I believe the managing agent keeps a copy on file. I think the larger firms probably store it on disc or microfilm.

Good luck!

June 01, 2011 11:23 AM #7
Anonymous
Anonymous
K.L.Barnes

Thanks again! One last question, do you reccomend that someone purchases title insurance for a co-op or is a regular title search sufficient? 

 

June 02, 2011 11:51 PM #8
Rainmaker
508,210
Mitchell J Hall
The Corcoran Group - Manhattan, NY
Lic Associate RE Broker - Manhattan, NYC

K.L. 

I don't think you need title insurance for a coop. A coop is not real property you are buying shares of stock in a corporation. You should have a lein search done on the shares, if you have a mortgage it will be done by the bank.

I do reccomend homeowners insurance after you buy a coop.

June 03, 2011 08:16 AM #9
Rainmaker
306,780
Inna Ivchenko
Mannis Real Estate Group - Calabasas, CA
Los Angeles / Valley Homes

How interesting.

Here in LA, we don't have a lot of coops, I see few communities here and there, they look attractive, since they are more affordable than a regular condos, yet, they have much more restrictions.

June 16, 2013 02:04 AM #10
Show All Comments
Rainmaker
508,210

Mitchell J Hall

Lic Associate RE Broker - Manhattan, NYC
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