Anyone who wants to own a cooperative apartment in New York City will most likely need to be interviewed by an admission committee of a co-op. It is a right of passage like a bar/bat mitzvah, a confirmation. The process for each co-op can differ greatly. Some Boards meet prospective buyers only after they have decided favorably on their application while others use the interview as the time to scrutinize both the financials and the candidates. The interview is the board’s opportunity to meet you and ask specific questions about your application. The style of the interview can range from an informal gathering of board members in an apartment to a formal interview with board members lined up at a table with you in the hot seat. Whatever the case, please be calm and amicable. A smile will go a long way.
The following is a list of “hints” and “do’s and “don’ts” to help you face your interview.
- Dress appropriately. A suit and tie is not necessary but probably recommended for men and a dress, suit or skirt for women with minimal jewelry.
- Be Prompt. Please be on time – a board interview should be treated no differently than a professional job interview. Be on time, If not early. Let them be late! Often you are part of a larger agenda of the whole board and the interview is delayed. Be patient if the interview is running late.
- Know your application. Prior to the interview, it is wise to review your written board application to refresh your memory what was stated. You should be able to quickly and concisely answer questions asked regarding your application, preferably without having to look at your application. However, if necessary, bring a copy along. Familiarize yourself with your tax returns in the event a question is asked.
- Couples should decide in advance who will answer what types of questions. For example, you may agree to answer all financial questions and your spouse will answer all other questions. Avoid discussing answers to questions with your spouse in front of the board. If two or more people are being interviewed, don’t contradict or interrupt one another. Please see the attached addendum regarding most often asked questions by an admission committee.
- Unlike a job interview, do not try to sell yourself. Only answer questions asked and let the board run the show. Boards rarely turn down applications for being too boring.
- Don’t Volunteer Information. I always recommend to never volunteer information or engage in unsolicited conversations except for basic cordial remarks and greetings. Don’t offer personal information unless requested.
- Do not ask questions. Questions can often unintentionally convey negative information to the board. For example, especially ones that should have been answered prior to your signing a contract such as building repairs, financials, etc. This is your interview, not theirs. For example, “Do you have any plans to renovate the lobby?” is the kind of seemingly innocent questions likely to offend the board member who was in charge of the last lobby renovation. If you have additional questions, you can direct them to your real estate broker or to the building managing agent.
- A short interview is better than a long one. While there are no hard and fast rules, a short, cordial interview with a few board questions and remarks is often the best co-op board interview.
- Do not expect an answer at the end of the meeting. Most boards do not give their decisions until a day or two after the meeting, while others prefer to send out a letter indicating their decision. This may take up to two weeks. Your broker will take the necessary steps to determine if you have been approved.
- Be prepared for personal questions. Handle personal questions without being defensive. The board just wants to be comfortable that you will be a great neighbor. Prepare for a lack of privacy. The board has great latitude in the kinds of questions it can ask. Do not avoid answers to personal questions or be angered by this intrusion.
- Do not discuss renovations. Unless asked, please do not discuss possible renovations. If asked, downplay the extent of the work you intend to do. Once you are approved, you can pursue renovations with management.
- Post interview requests. In some instances, the approval might be contingent upon maintenance being held in an escrow account. You need not respond to this concern at the meeting and should discuss these ramifications with your attorney if the issue arises.
- After the interview. Thank the board for their time, shake hands and let them know that you look forward to living in the building. The managing agent will contact you or your agent with the Board’s decision.
- Enjoy it. Be relaxed and confident. Who knows, someday it may be you on the board interviewing the new candidates.
Frequently Asked Questions by Boards
- Often, if a Board has questions relating to financials they will ask them before the interview, but be prepared for the meeting. Take a copy of the package with you.
- You may be asked for detailed explanations of financials, especially if self-employed.
- Do you feel confident that you can comfortably carry the mortgage and maintenance?
Feel Good Questions
- Why did you choose this building?
- What made you choose this apartment?
- Why do you want to live in this neighborhood?
- How long have you been looking? How many apartments did you look at?
House Rules, etc.
(You may be asked questions designed to see if you’ve read the house rules and will abide by them.)
- Do you have any questions about this building?
- Do you have any pets?
- Are you planning any remodeling or renovations? How will you finance this renovation?
- Are you going to use the apartment for residential purposes only?
- Do you work out of home? What kind of traffic will there be? (security)
- Would you run for the Board? What skills could you offer?
Lifestyle and Miscellaneous Questions
- Do you play any musical instruments?
- Do you entertain often?
- Do you smoke?
- Are you interested in serving on the board?
*DISCLAIMER. Nothing herein is offered as legal advice. All information in this article is for informational purposes only. Please consult with an attorney before taking any legal actions.