With inventory tight these days, don’t leave anything to chance
By Gary Malin / NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
Thursday, October 10, 2013, 6:27 PM
Jeff Bachner/for New York Daily News
Citi Habitats president Gary Malin.
The Money Pros are standing by to take your questions.
Q. With inventory very tight right now, I want to do everything I can to make sure my apartment deal goes smoothly. What are some tips for aceing the co-op approval process?
A. The co-op board approval process can be nerve-racking, and it’s important to know what the process will entail before placing an offer.
Co-op buildings are run by a co-op board, just like a company has a board of directors. This group of building residents reigns supreme, and has the right to approve or reject all potential buyers, and for any reason – as long as it is not in violation of fair housing laws.
Boards want to see that would-be residents are financially qualified to purchase the apartment in question (by examining pay stubs, tax returns, etc.), and that they will make good, quiet neighbors.
Financial qualification requirements vary from building to building. Typically though, most boards like applicants to have a monthly income that is four times greater than their total monthly housing expenditure (mortgage payment, plus maintenance fees/taxes and insurance), and in addition, have a full 12 months of housing costs available in liquid assets (cash, money market accounts, bonds etc.).
If you are working with a real estate agent, ask him or her to give you as much information as possible about the approval process for the board in question. It helps to know what you are walking into beforehand.
Meeting with the board is the most important step in the process. Remember that first impressions count. Be on time, be friendly, and be prepared.
Understand the ins-and-outs of all your required financial documentation, and be sure you can answer questions about it quickly and accurately. Be sure to dress appropriately, as you would for an important business function.
When in doubt, err on the conservative side.
Let the board ask the questions, and answer only what is asked of you. Volunteering additional information only increases the chance they will find something you say unacceptable. In most cases, a short interview is a good sign you will be approved.
Always have a positive attitude about the apartment and the building. Act like you wouldn’t change a thing about both.
Now is not the time to discuss your plans to knock down walls and gut the apartment. While renovating your unit is your right as an owner, its best to avoid bringing it up during the interview.
The goal is to act like you love the building and will be a no-hassle neighbor.
Keep in mind, co-op boards are allowed to ask personal questions. Asking what you do on the weekends and if you have frequent guests are common questions. While it’s okay to spin the answers a little, reply to them honestly.
While the co-op approval process can be a challenge, remember the payoff of a home you love is worth the short-term inconvenience. Keep the tips above in mind, and you should be in great shape.
Malin is the president of Citi Habitats.
Do you have a question for the Money Pros? Send it to firstname.lastname@example.org.