Unlike purchasing other types of property in New York City, a co-op is not the purchase of a piece of real property but buying a share of a corporation that owns and manages the building. In exchange, you get the use of an apartment as part of that transaction. Consequently, the board that governs the management and ownership of the building have a significant interest in who they accept to be one of their shareholders. And the questions they ask during the interview can feel a bit intrusive.
Before going to a co-op board interview, it may be helpful to speak with an experienced real estate attorney. A skilled real estate lawyer may be able to help you prepare to answer the questions during a co-op board interview.
Common Questions that the Board May Ask
A co-op board will take a very personal interest in anyone purchasing a unit in their building, and they may ask questions that seem very personal. But by this time, they already have extensive financial information about you, and the interview process itself is more like a meet and greet. However, it is still an important step in the process and you can still be turned down by the board depending on your answers.
Questions that a co-op board may ask include:
- Is your job secure? – From a financial perspective, a co-op board will look for assurances that your job and financial future is a secure one.
- Why did you choose this apartment/neighborhood? – A co-op board wants to make sure you are a good personal and financial fit. How you answer can give them important information about you. The best responses will be complimentary, such as what drew you to the building and neighborhood.
- Why are you downsizing? – Again, this may have something to do with their need to ensure your financial security. Your answer should not indicate that you are downsizing for financial reasons.
- Do you have plans to renovate? – Board members can be concerned about renovations from a noise and disturbance perspective as well as a financial one. It may be best not to talk about any renovation plans until you have made it past the interview and are actually in the apartment.
- What political party do you belong to? – Yes, this is a perfectly legal question, but an awkward one. If it is at all possible, it is best to steer away from any political conversations during a board interview or keep it very light and respectful.
- What do you do in your spare time? – Again, this is trying to discover if you are a right fit for the co-op community. You should keep answers very generic to show you will be a respectful and quiet neighbor.
- How often do you entertain? – Just like the spare time question, this question will try to eek out whether you will be a quiet neighbor.
- Do you plan to sublet? – Most co-ops have very strict subletting policies. Know yours and answer accordingly.
Being asked very personal questions by a group of strangers can be uncomfortable, and answering uncomfortable questions with as much dignity and grace as possible will be the only way to get through these interviews. But as personal as these questions may feel, there are some questions that co-op boards are forbidden to ask.
A Co-Op Board Cannot Discriminate
A co-op board may not ask any questions that may be construed as discrimination under New York City’s human rights laws. They cannot ask about your relationship status, your country of origin, your religion, or even how many children you have or plan to have. While they may want to know all these things, they cannot outright ask them. Consequently, they may try to phrase questions in a way that they get the information they want without seeming discriminatory.
A co-op board interview can be daunting, but once you get to this point, you are already conditionally approved. At Sishodia PLLC, our New York City real estate attorneys can help guide you and prepare you for your board interview. Call us at (833) 616-4646 or schedule a consultation through our online contact form.