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What kinds of questions should I expect during my board interview for a sublet rental in a co-op building?
Do you travel a lot, do you have people over a lot, parties? Do you plan on making any renovations (not sure you are even allowed)? How long do you plan on staying? How did you come to select this apartment?
You may get a few questions about your financials but the owner is the one on the hook.
thank you- how long should the meeting last?
Depends on the board. Sometimes they'll ask direct questions about your lifestyle (How often do you like to entertain? Do you play an instrument?) and they'll ask the standard questions about your job.
Since by the time you've gotten to the board interview your financial materials have already qualified and passed, this is the board's time to sniff out whether you'd be a nice quiet neighbor or a problematic pain in the ass.
Best thing to do in any board interview is to answer directly and politely but not over-explain anything. Also best NOT to ask questions.
Oh, and dress as though you're going to a job interview. Conservative businesswear, tasteful accessories and NO overpowering perfume/cologne.
Does that mean you have an interview scheduled? Yay!
The big question is probably going to be, "why do you want to live here rather than somewhere else?" (The answer is not, "it's cheaper" but is something like, "well, my broker and I looked at ten apartments, and I loved this building for its ___ and ___"
You'll probably be asked why you're coming to New York and how long you plan to stay. The co-op board may ask questions about your line of work (which are illegal, but they happen.) For example, I relo actors from L.A. to New York, so a co-op board wants to make sure they're not going to throw loud parties or be away all the time filming . . with attorneys the worry is that they'll be litigious .. I imagine if you work in finance you might get a query that asks you about job stability.
whatever you are asked, be respectful. Now is NOT the time to come up with suggestions about how to improve the building or the board process.
Hi Ali- thanks for remembering me! Yeah I finally got an interview scheduled!!! I'm very excited and appreciate your thorough response. It was very helpful. You are great :)
Congrats, Sutton! I'm sure it seemed liked forever, but you'll finally meet these lovely people! (wink) I've always heard that you dress very conservatively & offer no extra info or suggestions; just let them see what a fine fellow you are, quiet, respectful, conservative - meet the in-laws time, I guess.
a question for the board: Who is apt to be there? Where is it held? Might coffee & a cookie be offered? How long will it last?
Sutton, best of luck & let us know how it goes, AFTER you get moved in there, so you don't queer it.
often board meetings are in a member's apartment; sometimes they're in a room in a club that somebody belongs to. you get a bunch but not all board members. Generally no food no beverage.
My estimate of an co-op rental interview is maybe 15-20 minutes, but boards vary.
While we're talking about coop boards, I have a question for a potential future purchase (we're talking 10 years out, but I'm a curious person). My current place didn't need any work so that was easy. But I'm thinking for my next place, which would be more of a 30 year home than my current 5-10 year home, I'd want to find a wreck and completely make it over how I want.
Most advice says you don't tell the board that you want to do construction. However, if they won't let me do it, I want them to reject me so I don't get stuck holding an irreparable wreck. Is it common to bring up renovation ideas in an interview like that, to make sure the board is ok with your plans?
Of course I'd tell the seller this before we get to that point, and make sure the seller agrees that the coop board allows gut renovations. But... I don't trust sellers ;)
Any co-op interview is about your social skills and financial status.
Your broker should prep you on that.
Tech guy, the answer is really yes and no . ..
when you buy an apartment, you're buying a bundle of rights, and so of course you don't want to pay XX dollars for that bundle if you think it includes the right of renovation, and the board doesn't.
On the other hand, nothing turns off a board faster than charging in with your architect.
So I think you take a middle ground and warn the board about the scope of your renovations during the application process, but you try to be kind of demure about it.
Also, I don't know if you say the NYT real estate cover on renovations a couple weeks ago but it was good -- including the reminder that one apartment's renovations can affect a building, and that one of the main reasons renovators get turned down is that they want to move bathrooms so they're placing "wet over dry" -- a no-no because it raises the potential for leaks in a building.
There's a lot you can learn before you even put in an offer; it's often helpful to ask your broker to find out what types of apartment renos have recently been allowed. Obviously this won't guarantee anything, but it'll at least give you an idea of how flexible the board is in approving work. Most co-ops do have a wet-over-wet regulation that prohibits bathrooms/kitchens from being completely relocated. Many buildings have other by-laws regarding placement (or allowance) of washer/dryers and dishwashers.
Generally, if your renovation plans are within reason (you know, no 6-person hot-tub in the middle of the living room, no bearing walls removed) then you shouldn't have a major problem getting them passed. Basically boards like to reserve the right to nix reno plans -- this gives them an added measure of security -- but depending on the building, they tend to be pretty reasonable in allowing work that won't potentially do harm to the building.
Be friendly, polite, avoid any semblance of controversy, speak as little as possible. First and most a board cares about your finances, then your likelihood to be a considerate and decent neighbor. If there is ANYTHING that isn't perfect in the board package, you will be asked about it. Practice an answer with your agent.
As former coop owners with strong financials, the interview my b/f and I had with a board recently in an 120 unit established Village coop lasted 8 minutes and we were asked only if we had read and understood the building rules. At the end of the interview they all but told us we would be approved. That isn't the norm, but I offer it to say anything is possible and it isn't always difficult.
I guess that if you've gotten this far, it's yours to lose???
During my coop interview I was asked if I had any questions about the building. Kind of surprised, but they wanted to make sure I was comfortable; the meeting was more of an informal 'welcome to the building' than a grilling session.
I wish that perspective tenants could contact the board directly (not go through the management company) as part of the due dilligence - before signing the contract. This way you can get a feeling about the building, their rules, to make sure you won't run into any roadblocks and waste everyone's time. I'd think the board would appreciate that a tenant would take the time to ask meaningful questions and get a better feel for their potential neighbor.
Sutton123..you went through a lot to get this apartment...they put you through the same amount of time and tension as if you were buying the apartment. Enjoy your new home.
Based on experience doing the interviews.
* Interview will vary as much as the individuals do on the board
* Why interested in building, pets, renovations, house rules questions are common
* Most broker advice regarding what to do and dress is generally misguided
* If you get the interview, you are generally approved
what advice did you get from your broker (or others) that was bad?
""Sutton123..you went through a lot to get this apartment...they put you through the same amount of time and tension as if you were buying the apartment. Enjoy your new home.""
Julia's right. It takes a strong person to go through the rigors required to become a subtenant in a co-op. Personally I'd never want to do it (though that didn't stop me from subletting my co-op apt to an amazing tenant).
Julia, drdrd and front_porch and Squid, lo888 and everyone else who has been so extremely helpful and kind I thank you. I'm so glad I found this website. I feel like there should be some kind of Streeteasy Meet and Greet. I would love to meet everyone in person. Seems like an awesome group. I will keep you guys posted after my interview.
Uptown gal: I completely agree with what you said above regarding prospective tenants speaking to the Board.
Every co-op will vary. My board interview was as laid back as it gets. It was in a board member's apartment with 3 other board members. They asked if we wanted a drink (they were drinking) and, rather than ask questions, made it a dialogue/conversation like we were friends. They knew our board package verbatim (especially the reference letters from our friends) and knew that we were going to be accepted before we even entered the door. I really felt the second that I entered the room that it was ours to lose. At the end of the meeting one of the board members said to another "should we make them sweat it out" (in jest) and then let us know that we, of course, got it.
joepa what a fantastic experience for you. I can only hope my will go this well. I'm glad you mentioned the reference letters, I'd already forgotten who I had asked to write (it's been almost two months) and will go over the copies before I meet with the board.
Sutton - SO WHEN IS THE INTERVIEW?!
Tech_guy - planning ahead, huh? Actually, I know exactly where you're coming from because I had the same conversation with my lawyer recently. She said that you shouldn't bring up renovations at a board meeting but that the best thing to do would be to bring your architect in before you sign the contract to determine if what you want to accomplish is even possible as far as they can tell. We also got the plans from the seller and were able to determine which columns and walls were load bearing. You should also ask as Squid mentioned about previous renovations. If any part of the renovation is absolutely a requirement for you (don't want the apartment without it) then you could try to put a clause in the contract making the sale contingent upon approval of that specific alteration. The seller may or may not accept but you can try.
I don't understand why anyone would put themselves through a board process for a rental. Was there something special about the apartment. There are so many apartments through management firms. My processing took 1/2 day..I submitted the application (one page) and they called me in the afternoon....I own a small business so I thought I would have a problem but it was very easy. Maybe next time Sutton123...good luck and enjoy your home.
""I don't understand why anyone would put themselves through a board process for a rental.""
Couldn't agree more. Hey, Julia--we're seeing eye-to-eye for once! My issue is not only the extensive processing required for a co-op sublease but also the knowledge that your ability to rent is short-lived--often 2 years max, depending on the co-op's bylaws. IMO too much hassle with not enough upside.
lo888 my interview is next week! julia and Squid: I am moving from out of state and didn't know all the hassle with the co-op board for one, and two I was told that I wouldn't need board approval for this apartment but when I finally got all the paperwork submitted and the broker met with the managing agent, they informed her that I would in fact need approval because of some issues the owner had with the building. If I had known this, I would NEVER EVER have applied but I was too far in and already back home when I found out to start my search all over. I wish I had known and would have gone to a rental bldg or condo. Are condos this much of a pain as well for future reference?
Thanks for everyone's help :)
(1) Incorrect above about good to ask questions. I have been on boards. Prospects do nothing to help themselves EVER by asking questions of the board. They don't give a crap if you are "interested" in the buildings. Just be nice and polite and demure. Not creative.
(2) DO NOT contact board directly-EVER. They hate that. It comes across as pushy, aggressive, obnoxious, annoying.
(3) Brokers have plenty of flaws, but I haven't found how they coach for board interviews is one of them. Advice is typical: arrive on time and NOT EARLY or late; dress very professionally and conservatively--don't make a dramatic "statement" of any kind with your clothing; give short, succinct answers; be FULLY conversant in everything in your board package of documents; be sure to have read the house rules; re renovations, you ought to have explored that prior to signing the contract anyway--board interview is not the place to have that discussion unless you really want to potentially screw things up; avoid politics, religion, sex, crime and all topics of even remote controversy; and then, get out of their as soon as you can without rushing it. Nothing "good" happens from an extended interview.
My broker has given me zero prep- she says they just want to make sure I'm a pleasant person to have as a neighbor. She has said absolutely nothing about how to dress, what to say or not say, what kinds of questions they will ask and what kind of information I should know from my package. Obviously I have a bad broker!
Most of it is common sense, no? Imagine you were going to a cocktail party with colleagues and their spouses and be pleasant, well dressed and warm. You really don't need to be walked through something as basic as this, do you? You are not interviewing to be Mayor or a CEO -- just a consistently paying, reliable, warm, decent neighbor. It is not a sorority or private club, but surely you can manage the basics?
Try not to come across as neurotic or needy -- you will be flagged as a squeaky wheel.
Common sense is often not very common. Glad this forum helped you. You'll be great now. Relax! And just in case you can't, keep a couple kleenex in your right pocket to grip before shaking the hands upon entering--that way they won't be clammy is you are a little sweaty. Ok. That's my last bit of advice. I fear I've crossed over into sounding like your mother.
Why people agree to play this game, you paying so much money to buy an apt and then you have to dress for an interview??
and by the way, you do the board a favor, the value any apt that you buy now will decline in the coming months.
kylewest you made me laugh aloud! thanks :) it seems like common sense to me but I've heard some horror stories about people being rejected for no good reason so I just want to make sure I do the best I can. I like to research things before I go head on with them so I can be at my best. This forum has truly helped.
sutton123, I'm sure you will pass!
Ten Pointers to Help You Pass the Board Interview
1. Being invited to the interview is a good sign. 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.
2. Dress-up and be prompt. In terms of dress and promptness only a board interview should be treated no differently than a professional job interview.
3. Prepare for a lack of privacy. The board has great latitude in the kinds of questions it can ask, be prepared for this and do not avoid answers to personal questions, or be angered by this intrusion.
4. Know your application. You should be able to quickly, and concisely answer any questions asked regarding your application, preferably without having to look at your application. However, if necessary, bring a copy along.
5. 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.
6. Never volunteer information or engage in unsolicited conversations except for the basic cordial remarks and greetings.
7. Do not ask questions. Questions can often unintentionally convey negative information to the board. For example: “Do you have any plans to renovate the lobby?”, is the kind of seemingly innocent question 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 me.
8. 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.
9. 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.
10. Do not expect an answer at the end of the meeting. Most boards do not give their decision until a day or two after the meeting. I will take the necessary steps to determine if you have been approved.
I am a broker and this is a general guideline to co-op interview. Do remember, as "formal" as it may seem, typically, they are quite informal. After reviewing the application documents, the board then likes to "match the face to the application" so to speak. Do try to avoid anything that may "throw them off" like a "McCain Palin 2008" t-shirt (just kidding). Sounds like you've had other StreetEasy fans helping you out. Cheers!
Thanks Soie and Ali...I appreciate all of your help. I'm excited about moving to NYC and you've helped me out a lot :)
we're excited about having you . . . it's great to meet people who are so eager to live in NYC, it reminds me of why I came 20 years ago . . .buy you a cup of coffee when you finally get through that board!
Thanks ali! I've wanted to move to NYC since I was 19 and 10 years later I'm finally doing it! Tomorrow is my big move from out of state and I'm nervous and excited. I wish you all the best in your endeavors and I hope you will keep helping with your advice on this website. It has truly made a big difference for me.
Sutton, way to go! Welcome to NYC!! When is this blasted interview? Be sure you let us know how it goes, AFTER you ace it!
drdrd you crack me up! Just arrived this afternoon to NYC! The "blasted interview" is tomorrow!!!!! I will definitely give an update tomorrow night. You guys are the best. I love this site. We should have a Streeteasy party at my new place!
I got in guys thanks everyone!!!!
Congratulations....you went through a lot and now enjoy it all!
MISTER Sutton, of course you got in!!!!!! Congratulations! Now for all the dirt, leaving out any identifying information, unfortunately. ;-)
""We should have a Streeteasy party at my new place!""
You're a brave soul to consider inviting any of this scurrilous lot into your home... a Streeteasy party sounds fun, actually, but better to have it in a bar or other public space--there're lots of weirdos around here.
Congrats on the new digs, though!
Squid, I resent your remark; I'm certain I didn't reveal my kleptomania on this site. What a thing to say!
squid, drdrd...you're great!
""Squid, I resent your remark; I'm certain I didn't reveal my kleptomania on this site. What a thing to say!""
Thank you all!!! The board was super nice and pretty much told me that I was accepted before we even started talking. They had no questions for me and were very informal. Just wanted to introduce me to the building :) I think all this wasted time was the broker's fault for not being more pushy. I didn't want to say this earlier but I ended up having to call the board myself to see what the hold up was and they said they would take care of it with the mgt. company right away and apologized for the delays. Guess every board is very different but glad I went this route because I would probably still be waiting with my timid agent if I hadn't done something drastic.
You guys are right about not meeting in my apt. A bar or something would be better-any klepto's can steal the wine glasses there instead of mine! And by the way drdrd it's Miss Sutton!!!!
Congrats, Miss Sutton!
OOOOOoooops, congratulations MISS Sutton; you're now a New Yawkah; way to go!
Thank you thank you~!! It's very cold here-whew!!!burrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr
""Thank you thank you~!! It's very cold here-whew!!!burrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr""
Oh, you ain't seen nuthin' yet...
Congrats and welcome to the Big Apple! It's really a great place btw. Where are you moving from?
Thanks lo888 -from Texas where the heat rules!