Congratulations for being in contract to buy a coveted New York City cooperative apartment! As the next step, you’ll need to submit a purchase application and pass the infamous co op board interview in order to complete your purchase.
There’s no doubt by now that you’ve heard that co-op boards hold enormous power over their shareholders and can reject prospective purchasers for any reason whatsoever because they are not required to disclose the reasons for a board turn down.
We’ve compiled below a list of the best tips for preparing for the co op board interview from various industry insiders.
If you haven’t already, remember to have your buyer’s broker ask for the inside scoop on how the co op board in the building is. Are they relaxed? Are the meetings usually short and sweet? Are the board members usually coming home from work before the board interview? Are they still wearing work attire?
Preparing for the Co op Board Interview in NYC - Tips and Suggestions
Relax! Remember that being invited in the first place is a good sign.
That’s because it means the co-op board has already reviewed your board package and have conditionally approved you based on your qualifications and financials which is the most important part. The interview itself is an opportunity for the board to meet you in person and ask you more specific questions about parts of your application, and perhaps to make sure you’re not a complete wreck in person and very different from the application’s version of you.
The style of the interview can range from a casual gathering in one of the board member’s living rooms to a formal interview in a conference room, almost like a senate hearing with you being put on the spot.
Dress professionally and be on time.
Both suggestions should be viewed in the same light as a professional job interview. Try to arrive at least 15 minutes early and definitely don’t make the board wait for you! It’s always better to be slightly over-dressed versus slightly under-dressed. We suggest business casual attire. You’ll never want to feel uncomfortable in shorts while the board members arrayed in front of you are still in their work suits.
Be prepared for your privacy to be invaded.
The board can ask a wide array of probing questions that will invade on your personal privacy. Try to be as open and honest as you can and be prepared for the possibility of invasive questions in advance. Meditate if you have to and try not to be evasive in your answers and angry in your response. The last thing you want is to become visibly angry or worse, to get into an argument with the board. Remember that you’ve already spent a lot of time and resources getting this far!
Be familiar with the details of your purchase application.
You should be intimately familiar with the purchase application you’ve filled out, and you should be able to quickly and concisely answer any detailed questions about your application, preferably without having to look at it. It’s acceptable to bring a copy for yourself if you need to.
Decide in advance who will answer certain types of questions.
Couples should agree in advance who will answer what types of questions. You should also discuss with your spouse or domestic partner in advance what the answer will be. You want to avoid discussing how to answer a question in front of the board as that may make the board unnecessarily suspicious.
Don’t go out of your way to sell yourself.
Remember, you’ve already been conditionally approved based on your purchase application, there’s no need to go out of your way to sell yourself. Let the board lead the interview and only answer questions which you’ve been asked. Boards rarely turn down applicants because the interview was too short or too boring.
Don’t volunteer information.
You’ve already provided an enormous amount of information in your board package, so why go out of your way to provide extra information that may hurt you when you’ve already been conditionally approved? You should never volunteer extra information or start extraneous conversations except for normal friendly remarks and greetings.
This is not the time to ask questions.
If you have plans to renovate the apartment, this is not the time to ask the board about it. Why even bring it up when you’re not a shareholder yet? You’ll only give the perception that you’ll be a difficult shareholder, and remind the board that they’ll have to do more work in the future approving your renovations. Even seemingly harmless questions can hurt you. For example, if you ask about the status of the Local Law 11 work on the facade, you may offend a board member who is in charge of an operation that is not going so well. If the board asks whether you have any questions, just thank them and say that you can’t think of anything at the moment but will be sure to come back to them if you do.
Additional Tips for Preparing for the Co op Board Interview in NYC
A short interview is often better than a long one.
Board members are often tired after work, so a short, friendly interview with only a few questions can often be the best result.
Often times, they are quickly vetting you in person to make sure you’re not drastically different from your profile on paper.
A long interview is not necessarily bad, but it can be a bad sign if they’ve asked you a lot of tough questions because you are “on the edge” of being financially qualified to purchase in the building.
Don’t expect the board to give you a decision at the end of the interview.
Though it can happen, most boards will take a few days to make a determination and tell the managing agent. The managing agent of the building will relay the board’s decision to your real estate broker.
Disclosure: Hauseit® and its affiliates do not provide tax, legal, financial or accounting advice. This material has been prepared for informational purposes only, and is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for, tax, legal, financial or accounting advice. No representation, guarantee or warranty of any kind is made regarding the completeness or accuracy of information provided. Hauseit LLC is a Licensed Real Estate Broker, licensed to do business in New York under license number 10991232340. Principal Office: 244 Fifth Avenue, Suite 2950, New York, NY 10001.