The Co-op Interview

Park Slope RowhousesCongratulations. You’ve had your co-op application scrutinized by a broker, repackaged by the managing agent, reviewed by the board, and have finally been asked in for an interview.  You are 75% of the way home. Most boards won’t waste their time (or yours) with an interview, if they, or the managing agent, didn’t like what they saw in your application.  But let’s not start slapping each other’s backs quite yet; approval is now yours to lose.

There are a number of Do’s and Don’ts when it comes to the co-op interview, but there are three (3) that you absolutely have to commit to memory and I’ve trademarked a new acronym to help you remember them:  NRA (oddly, RNA and NAR were both taken).

Never Ask Questions

Review your application

Arrive on Time

1. Never Ask Questions. This is the suggestion I get the most pushback about, but ignore it at your own peril.  I may be paraphrasing a bit here, but this is how some of my clients have responded: “What do you mean, Jim? We have a lot of questions for the board. We want to know when the co-op is going to replace the building’s windows. When will the exercise room be completed? When is the maintenance going up? Are there any assessments? When will we be able to start our gut renovation?”

No, no, no.

The purpose of this meeting is to decide whether you are going to become a member of this co-op, a neighbor of the people sitting in the room with you. They ask the questions. You answer them. Coffee is for closers, diamonds are forever, politicians are for sale, and questions are for shareholders. You may ask questions once you are a shareholder. Let me also say, that the co-op interview is not the time to be deciding if you want to purchase the apartment. That ship sailed at the end of the due diligence phase. If you have questions because you think you may have been misled, because you didn’t look over all the meeting minutes, because you didn’t read your contract before signing it, or haven’t reviewed the co-op’s financial statements, then have a conversation with your attorney.  If you have general questions about the co-op or your apartment, you should ask them before you sign a contract or direct those questions to a third party – the managing agent, your lawyer, or your broker.

Remember, you are being evaluated, so when you ask questions (even ones you think are insightful and show how thoughtful you are), you run the risk of raising a red flag (Troublemaker! Usurper! One-Who-Doesn’t-Follow-Directions!), even if that is not what you meant to do.  So answer their questions accurately, politely, and don’t ask any yourself.

2. Review Your Application. You should be familiar with your application, so at the very least read it again before your interview. You will be expected to answer questions about it quickly and accurately.  Also, bring a copy with you.

3. Arrive on Time. Enough said.

Please share your own co-op interview experiences and tips in the comments section below. For For more tips and detailed information have a look at  Passing the Co-Op Interview on Amazon.com.



Categories: Buy It

3 replies

  1. It’s great how your sense of humor comes through. It should help a lot of people.

  2. Wow. This is great! I would add, do be prepared with some insightful and thoughtful questions in case the Board asks at the end of interview whether they have any questions. If they don’t ask, don’t volunteer, as you said. You’re right. It’s another way of sizing up the applicants and, at times, very revealing. Review your application is so important. Recently, I’ve heard: “I don’t know. I have to check with my accountant,” too many times. And the corollary to “Be on time’ is ‘Don’t be early.” I don’t care if they have to stand on the corner in January. It totally unnerves applicants when they realize the other Board members are not expected to arrive for another 10 minutes! You are terrific. Thanks, Louisa

  3. A perfect companion piece to the one on board packages. You really put it all in context — this is what the inverview is for (the board assessing you as a potential shareholder and neighbor) and this is what it is NOT for (making up for not doing your own homework about the building beforehand, etc.) Very helpful and done with a nice touch of humor too.

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