Facing the co-op board interview is every New York buyer’s worst step in the purchase process. It is an anxiety-ridden affair that offers little transparency as to why applicants could be approved or rejected. We will explore first-person stories with individuals who have faced co-op boards. When necessary, their identities have been kept anonymous. Here’s how one homeowner prepped their dog for a co-op board interview.
Name: Josh Frankel
Building: Building on West End Ave.
My wife and I live on Long Island and we were thinking about buying a vacation place in Florida. That’s when my friends reminded me that I hate flying. They suggested I get a weekend place in the city — a pied-a-terre. Years ago I used to live on the UWS in a shoebox and I loved it. So I went on StreetEasy, plugged in my budget info and other criteria (must accept dogs) and started searching around. I found a listing I liked and contacted the listing agent (Keith Marder of the OK Team at Halstead). We hit it off immediately and he became my buying broker.
We went to a bunch of showings and found a place I loved. It was a one-bedroom on the Upper West Side and it accepted dogs under 40 lbs. “contingent upon board approval.”
We started the board package process, which was intense. But, Keith led me through it. I needed three letters of reference and documentation of every financial asset I had. I had to give them more information than my wife even knew we had: My daughter’s funding for college, existing debt, financial investments, stock portfolios, W-2s – you name it. It took weeks to get this package together. I even had to check in with my accountant a few times. I couldn’t believe how detail-oriented it was and the various costs incurred, like a move-in and move-out deposit.
But, I knew I had stellar credentials. After I submitted by completed application, which was a huge binder of information, I got an email to come in “next Wednesday at 7:30 p.m.” The instructions were to meet in the boardroom. There was no choice of times. If you dared to say you couldn’t make it, you could delay or derail the entire process.
Day of the Board Approval
My wife and I arrived at the prescribed date and we went into a dark, dingy conference room in the basement of the building. We shook hands and introduced ourselves, then sat at a conference table across from 4-5 board members. One board member was a woman who was an original from the time the building opened in 1940s. She was probably around 90 years old and took her role very seriously. But, she was very nice, very friendly.
Then they started firing questions at us. They asked about our families, what we do for a living, how the apartment would be used and so on. We said we have a young daughter (about 3 years old at the time) and we wanted to come into the city on weekends to go to museums and shows. It went well.
Keith reminded me that less is more, but I had nothing to hide. I’m like an open book. I certainly didn’t want to be rejected, but I thought being a quiet weekend guest would be sufficient. They did ask if I was going to rent it out, etc., and I said no. But, I did do one thing that I didn’t mention to the board members, which is that I let my siblings use it occasionally.
The interview lasted about 45 minutes. They told us we will be informed whether we will be approved or declined. No time frame was given.
A week later, I get an email that asks me to come in on “Monday at 7:30 p.m.” and to bring my dog with me. “We would like to interview you with your dog.”
My wife says she’s not going. She’s been through weeks of board packages and document retrieval. She was done.
So, on the day of the second interview, I get my dog, Jeeves, a Miniature Schnauzer, and we drive into Manhattan. I was nervous and rushing. I’m driving on Madison Ave., and somehow I got into a bus lane, which is a no-no. I got pulled over and got a ticket. But, I’m still on time, but cutting it close. I get to the building and call Keith to ask him tips about the dog. He says to “get him tired.”
So, I head towards Central Park with the dog. I am running full out to try to get the dog tired. After a short bit, the dog is exhausted, so I head to the building and go into the basement where the board members are there with their DOGS! All the dogs start interacting with each other and my dog, since he was so tired, was a total mush. It worked! One board member said, “This dog is a sweetheart.”
I knew it went well. Jeeves did a good job.
The Final Outcome
Shortly after, I get an email that just says, “You can now proceed with the closing.” That was it. Just very straightforward. It took a couple of weeks to close, but boy was it a long process.
We owned the apartment for 6 years and had a blast. It had a doorman and was fully staffed. We had dinners, went to museums and came in on weekends to just hang out — all of us, and the dog, too.
We sold it in 2017 because my daughter was older and started doing Girl Scouts and going to parties and other activities on weekends, so we didn’t use it.
Sold It In 2017
The sale was a story in itself. Even with the sale, you need a buying broker or selling broker to assist with the sale and we turned to Keith again. The doorman knew Keith, so it made things so much easier. Having Keith up the street was a godsend. I was in Scotland when the sale was going through and Keith did literally everything to help the buyer get through the process.
If I Were to Do It All Over Again …
Knowing what I know now, when it comes time again, I will analyze the condo market and then look at the co-op market to see prices. And if I see something I like, I will try to ask doormen and even people living in the building if I can get some clues about the board and the building. Chat them up to get some info. See if I can get anyone to spill the beans on the goings on in the building. The problem is, the selling agent will never tell you because they want a sale. People like to talk. I would ask people.
Do you have a co-op board story to share? We would love to hear it! Please email us here.