Purchasing a co-op in New York City will be unlike the purchase of any other type of real estate. This is because you are not really “purchasing” a small unit of the property but instead requesting to be part of a cooperative group of individuals who own and manage the entire building and its amenities.
Consequently, the co-op board will be particularly interested in how each individual will fit with their ownership efforts and whether they are a financially viable candidate. The board will require an in-person or video interview before you can go forward with a co-op purchase, and you should be prepared for the questions they may ask to ensure your best outcome. An experienced real estate attorney can help you prepare for board interviews to make sure your best chance of success.
It’s important to keep in mind that by the time you are granted a board interview, you have already been conditionally vetted, so although the interview can be stressful, it doesn’t need to be overwhelming. In most cases, a board interview is more like a meet and greet meeting to see who you are and how well you fit. But there can still be some potential sticking points depending on how you answer specific questions or how the board perceives you as a person.
Typical questions posed by a co-op board can feel somewhat intrusive, but you are being interviewed as a partner, not necessarily as a neighbor. So you may get questions concerning
All questions must be kept legal and cannot be regarded as legally discriminatory. When answering, it is best to keep your answers simple, quiet, and generic.
Many seemingly private questions will be the board’s trying to determine whether you will be able to weather financial ups and downs, whether you will be a quiet and considerate neighbor, and how much you are willing to put into the governance of the building.
Buying a co-op is more like being considered for a business relationship than a typical real estate purchase, so the questions you answer may feel more like a business interview. But this can be to your advantage as much as the board’s. The last thing you want to do is to get stuck in a situation where you are at diametrical odds with the culture of the co-op and your neighbors, setting you up for future conflict.
It’s best for you, as a buyer, to put your best foot forward, keep answers short and sweet, and not be tempted to add information that might harm your approval. But co-op rejections can and do happen, and the board is not required to be transparent about why you were rejected.
Co-op board members are human and, as humans, have their own foibles. Rejections can be for petty reasons. Getting to this point can be time-consuming, and it’s best if you have upfront information regarding a co-op’s historical choices and reputation for accepting and rejecting applicants. Unfortunately, co-op buyers can get stung by unreasonable board demands and then get left with a seller who is unwilling to return a deposit. It is critical to get as much advice and guidance as possible when going into a co-op purchase so you are not risking your valuable time and money with an ill fit.
At Sishodia PLLC, our New York City real estate attorneys can help you research and navigate a co-op purchase and prepare for a board interview to ensure your best success. Call us at (833) 616-4646 or schedule a consultation through our online contact form.