May
01

Lawyer’s Guide to Preparing for a Board Interview

By

Congratulations, your presence has been requested for an Interview with the Co-op Board of the building where you’ve been dreaming of living since you found the ‘perfect home’.  You’ve been on the roller-coaster ride for what seems like a decade, with contract negotiations, baring your financial soul to all and sundry, and soliciting reference letters to complete the co-op board application.  Now is the big day – the Board Interview.

 Board interviews are near the top of the strangest and most stressful things New York City residents go through while trying to put a roof over their head.  Having enough money to buy the apartment is just not enough; you must pass the interview as well.  Interviews run from basic and routine to a microscopic examination of your life and very grueling.

 While real estate brokers are typically involved in preparing clients for interviews, sometimes lawyers have the perspective to see the mistakes that sink their contract at the last minute in the interview process.  Here are a few tips from one lawyer who has lived through board rejections:

  1. Don’t Lie.  Tempting as it may seem to lie to avoid conflict, it is likely the truth is less damaging than the lie.  Trying to cover up the youthful indiscretion that landed you in jail for the night won’t win you any brownie points with the Board.  Chances are if they’re asking you about your arrest record, they already know the answer and want to see if you’ll fess up.  Explain that you’re not proud of that time and it’s something that you’ve never repeated.
  2. Explain Renovation Plans in the Right Context:  If the apartment is in desperate need of renovation, the board members interviewing   you are aware of the situation and are looking forward to someone bringing that unit up to date to increase market value, and create good comps for the other units.  Present the plans in the correct light:  “You want to update the apartment and have carefully reviewed the alteration policies of the board and plan to follow them to the letter”. 
  3. Be Candid About Your Plans for Using the Apartment:  Some boards are not fond of absentee owners, because they typically tend to have lots of guests and generally don’t spend as much money on upkeep on the apartment as those who make the apartment their primary residence.  If you plan to use the apartment as a secondary residence, be honest about it and address their concerns.
  4. Remember the Pets:  If you have a pet, be honest about it, and stress that yours are obedient and not a trouble-maker.  Explain you have read the rules and understand when and where pets are allowed on elevators and in the lobby.  Reassure them that the animal will not be a danger to anyone in the building.  You may even be asked to bring your pet in for an interview. 

Lastly, be yourself and at ease.  Rely on your Broker to prepare you for the process.   If for some reason the board rejects you, remember the immortal words of Groucho Marks “I don’t care to belong to a club that accepts   people like me!”

 

Based on article by Jerry M Feeney, Residential Real Estate Lawyer. 

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