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Latest posts by Gea Elika (see all)
- Most Common Reasons Why Sellers Reject an Offer - June 22, 2018
- Small Co-op and Condo Buildings: The Advantages & Disadvantages - June 22, 2018
- Getting Your Rental Security Deposit Back - June 20, 2018
Living in a co-op comes with its share of advantages ––like you might have a greater chance of knowing at least some of your neighbors, and perhaps even liking a few of them. But getting into a New York City co-op is not an easy feat. Most people who live in co-op apartments have to grin and bear the selection process, which tends to be invasive and often grueling, depending on the board and the building’s address.
Prepare to be grilled by a group of fellow shareholders on everything from finances to how many children you have, or even the breed of your dog. Doing your homework is half the battle, however –– there’s no better way to prepare for a co-op interview than to have a list of questions ahead of time, so you can mentally answer each one before the Q and A.
These are some of the most frequently asked questions you’ll most likely be asked during a co-op board interview.
You’ve found your dream co-op, you’ve aced the application package and the co-op board wants to meet you. Now what? The idea of a board interview with a panel of strangers scrutinizing your every move and mannerism can be a nerve-wracking prospect. With a little preparation, however, this doesn’t have to be the case. Here are some questions you can expect along with tips on how to answer them.
If your interviewer asks if you have any questions for the board, the best response is something like, “Not that I can think if right now, but thank you.”
Why Do You Want to Move Here?
This common question could masquerade as “What appeals to you about living here?” or “Why are you moving?” It seems fairly straightforward, but the answer can sometimes be tricky, depending on your circumstances.
The key to answering it is avoiding anything that makes the board question your finances or stability. Don’t mention wanting to save money. This not only speaks to possible problems with finances or concerns over the future of your job, but it also sounds temporary, as if you’re living here to save money and will move on when you can.
So, You’re a ____. How Do You Like It?
While this question sounds like innocent conversation, the board is again looking to find out if you are financially solvent and if your career choice is a permanent one. Regardless of how you feel about your current position, answer in an upbeat way. This is not the time to share war stories about your clients or sad tales about your horrible boss.
Are You Planning on Renovating?
Renovations are very disruptive to neighbors, and the idea of you bringing a sledgehammer to closing probably won’t excite any of the board. There’s no reason to disclose your plans when you haven’t even been approved yet.
However, don’t mislead your interviewers either. Keep the answer open-ended with something like, “I’m taking this one step at a time. I’m just focusing on the move now and have no immediate plans on renovating.”
Do You Entertain Frequently?
By asking this question, the board is not looking for an invitation to your house-warming party. Rather, they’re (very naturally) trying to gauge how disruptive a neighbor you will be.
Some boards will ask if you have a lot of family and friends in town. It may sound like conversation, but they want to know how many out-of-towners will be couch surfing at your place. A low-key answer is best: “I prefer occasional dinners with close friends.”
What are Your Hobbies?
This is more than just a friendly get-to-know-you question. This is another part of the disruptive neighbor conversation. If you play the drums or love howling at the moon, now is not the time to disclose it. Focus on quiet hobbies.
1. Usually, financial questions come before the interview, but, just in case, take a copy of your financial statement with you to prepare for questions.
2. Especially if you’re self-employed, expect to give detailed explanations of your finances.
3. Are you confident that you can afford maintenance and the mortgage comfortably?
4. What made you choose this building?
5. What made you choose this apartment?
6. Why do you want to live in this neighborhood?
7. How many apartments did you view?
8. Do you have questions about the building?
9. Do you have pets?
10. What renovations do you plan to do and how will you afford them?
11. Will you use the apartment for residential purposes only?
12. Do you work from home?
13. Would you run for the board?
14. Do you play any musical instruments?
15. Do you entertain often?
16. Do you smoke?
In addition to being ready for their questions, there are several other tips to follow. Treat this much like a job interview.
- Be on time.
- Dress appropriately.
- Respect those interviewing you.
- Don’t lie. It’s better to admit issues with credit than it is to hope they don’t get discovered.
- Don’t ask about subletting or renovation. You can either find that out through research or ask once they approve you.
- Don’t name-drop whom you know in the building unless you know the person in question is particularly popular.
Finally, patience is key to answering the seemingly unending list of questions. The board wants to get to know you. With a co-op, you are doing more than just buying a place to live. You’re becoming part of a community.
13 Tips to help ensure your Co-op board interview goes well
While coops are more plentiful than condos and less expensive, their approval process is far more rigorous. The purpose of the interview can vary widely–some boards view it merely as a formality after approving an application, but others use it as an opportunity to scrutinize candidates and their financials. Here are 12 tips to help ensure your board interview goes well:
1. Make Eye Contact
Answer questions to the best of your ability and when needed make sure they align with what you have included in your board application. Be honest. Make eye contact, and try and remain as neutral as you can, especially when responding to those more personal questions. Mostly, don’t let the interview get to you –– keep your cool no matter what they ask. Occasionally, boards will push the parameters and table topics that are not allowed legally. Answer these but without giving too much information, if that’s possible. No matter how invasive, do not refuse to answer any question.
2. What to wear to a Co-op interview
Men should wear a suit and tie, and women should wear a professional dress or suit with minimal jewelry. Dress well and wear something understated. (Don’t pull out your halter-top in the heat of summer or sweats like you just finished a workout.) Mostly, know that if you made it to the interview, you probably have a very good chance of getting the apartment and passing with flying colors. And if your nerves start to get the best of you, remember that each board member was probably in your shoes once, too.
3. Be on time
Keeping a board waiting will not serve you well, so try to show up early. Also, understand this is a time-consuming process, so be patient with the board.
4. Expect personal questions
Be prepared to field personal questions without getting defensive. Remember that the board is simply trying to determine what kind of neighbor you’ll make.
5. Familiarize yourself with your finances
Going into the interview, you should know your financial statement like the back of your hand and be prepared to answer questions about it.
6. Solidarity is important
If the board is interviewing you with your husband, wife, or partner, make sure you’re all on the same page, so you don’t interrupt or contradict one another.
7. Don’t ask questions
For the most part, the board should have answered your questions before your signing a contract. Now is their time to ask you questions.
8. Don’t mention renovations
Unless asked, don’t talk about the work you intend to do, and, even if asked, downplay your plans.
Limit the personal information you divulge to what the board asks. Don’t volunteer things.
10. Don’t expect an immediate decision
The board usually will conduct a full review, which takes time
11. Meet post-interview requests
In some cases, approval might be contingent on your holding maintenance in an escrow account.
12. Wait for an answer
Once the board has decided, the managing agent will contact you or your agent. Typically, if approved, notification is given within one week.
13. Don’t worry
Being confident and at ease during the process will help you.