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How to win over the co-op board when buying a home in NYC

How to win over the co-op board when buying a home in NYC

Before you can close on the purchase of a home in New York City, you are often required to have the approval of the building's co-op board. Winning over a co-op board may seem like a monumental task, but it’s really just a matter of being prepared. Having a good agent, strong finances, and a solid board package will help you on your way. Here are a handful of dos and don’ts that you should consider while working toward co-op ownership.


Do secure a strong buyer’s agent

Every purchase process has a unique set of challenges and potential pitfalls. A good agent will help you put your best foot forward when applying to buy in a co-op. There are many people who are charged with reviewing your application, so it's important that the instructions are followed to the letter. Your agent will guide you through the whole process and be sure that your application is well received with the management company and co-op board.

Do have good finances

Keep in mind that one of the biggest reasons a co-op board might reject your application is that your credit is poor and/or your debt to income ratio is high. You’re buying into a “neighborhood” so to speak. How you conducted your financial affairs in the past is the co-op board’s clearest indication of how you might do so in the future. If they suspect that you might fail to hold up your part of deal (i.e. not have enough money to keep up with your mortgage/maintenance or that you might make regular late payments) you will not be a favorable applicant.

Do be honest

You are human. If there are blemishes in your financial, professional or personal history, consider yourself normal. Just address any issues head on. Explain what happened that caused that issue and how you have worked to resolve it. Buying in a co-op is much like starting a relationship. It’s far better to display good character through honesty than a good reputation through deceit.

Do have liquid assets

Having enough money to buy an apartment is a great first step. Co-op boards want to know that you'll also have some money in the bank after your purchase is complete. This “post closing liquidity” is like a security blanket that comforts the co-op board. Knowing that you’ll be able to keep up with your payments if some unforeseen issues arise that alter your monthly income is a great way to build their confidence in you as a prospective buyer.

Do be patient

A co-op board has a particular time frame in which they review and decide on applications. You and the co-op board have the same goal - to be a part of good living community with responsible and respectful people and while it’s hard to wait around for an answer from the board, you should know that their lives are just as busy as yours. Be patient as the co-op board takes the time they need to make a decision.


Do not assume your way is better

Even if you're the most organized and proactive person on the planet, you should take your cues from the co-op board and your agent. Don’t start sending documents, preparing things you think you’ll need, or flooding your agents inbox with bank statements before you have a chance to go through the requirements with your agent. Trying to get a jump start may seem like a good idea, but it can result in having to do things over and maybe even missing your goal deadline for submission. Board packages require organization and attention to detail. Relax and let your agent take the lead. They do this for a living. Their job is to help you get to the finish line so listen to direction and go at the pace they suggest.

Do not be late

Once you’ve been invited to interview with the board, you can assume that they like you on paper. Now you have a chance to introduce yourself in person. Being punctual shows your respect for the board and their time, the overall process, and for your future relationship with this co-op.

Do not hesitate to offer to get involved if asked

If the co-op board asks you if you’re interested in serving on the board or getting involved with building projects say “yes”. Unless you’re totally not interested, share your enthusiasm for being a part of the co-op. Buying into a co-op means you will be a part of a community. As such you have an opportunity to be involved in how its run and chime in on selecting any future buyers/neighbors. Showing interest in these processes lets the board know that you care about the future success of the co-op.

Do not talk too much about changes you’d like to make

This goes for your apartment or the co-op as a whole. The board wants to know you like the apartment and building in which you are buying. If you want to make some renovations, feel free to share the general idea if asked, but keep it short and sweet. If you have grand designs on revamping the system, keep your ideas in check. You have not been accepted and might not be if the board senses you’re going to make their lives difficult.

Something to consider: If you find you have an intense need to make a mind blowing number of changes to the apartment (save for units that need to be gut reno'd) or how the the co-op conducts business, perhaps this isn’t the place for you.

Do not assume this is a two way interview

Once you have a fully executed contract, your sale is complete subject to co-op approval. An interview is not a time for you to ask questions about the building or the board, unless you’re invited to do so. Most of your big questions should have been asked before making an offer and potential issues should have been addressed and negotiated prior to contract signing. The interview is the board’s chance to get to know you and it’s your opportunity to show the board that you would make an excellent addition to their community. They should be asking most of the questions. Be sure you’ve read all the co-op rules and regulations. Asking questions about information that has already been clearly spelled out will make it seem you didn’t do your homework.

Jumping cartoon

Just remember that accepting the co-op for what it is is vital to being accepted yourself. Being honest, patient, informed, and respectful demonstrates that you are the kind of neighbor and shareholder with whom the board would be happy to share their building. Ultimately, when you find the right fit, winning over a co-op board should be is easy

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Natalie J. FrazierReal Estate Salesperson, REALTOR

With a background in both law and marketing, Natalie Frazier offers her clients the highest level of service and zealous representation from the beginning of every real estate transaction through to the end. She believes authentic relationships,...

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