A co-op board interview can be among the most stressful aspects of purchasing a home in New York City. The application process requires revealing all of your financials, submitting a lengthy board package, and meeting with the board to answer personal questions—after which the board can turn you down without giving a reason! The good news is that getting to the interview means the board has already reviewed your financials and considers you a pretty good candidate for living in their building. To help you ace the final hurdle—the co-op board interview—we’ve prepared a co-op board interview guide complete with commonly asked co-op interview questions.
- Submit an impeccable board package. Your agent’s expertise in submitting board packages will make this part of the application process easy.
- Know your finances. Your board package has every detail of your finances dating back years, so it will require your review to be sure you understand your finances in and out.
- Scrub your social media. If you or anyone in your family has a public social media account, be sure to scrub it of any content that could be seen as controversial. Board members may browse your list of friends for common connections or red flags, so you may want to make the list private as well.
- Coordinate responses with your partner. You and your partner should be on the same page about answers you will give. Decide in advance who will answer questions about which topic.
- Prepare your pet. For buildings that accept dogs, the board will want to know whether your pup is well behaved and quiet. It is a good idea to have your dog walker and current neighbor write a letter of recommendation about your pup’s good behavior. The board may require an interview with the dog at which time you can expect them to ring a doorbell and see how your dog reacts. If you know your dog’s behavior might be less than stellar, hire a trainer to brush up on manners. If your pup would be a good candidate, get a certification through the American Kennel Club Canine Good Citizen Program to show the board that you are a responsible owner and your dog is well-mannered.
- Dress well, arrive on time, know your audience, and make eye contact. Basic manners are the foundation for a good board interview. Memorize the names of who you’ll be meeting. Men should wear a suit and tie with minimal fragrances; women should wear a suit or dress and minimal makeup, jewelry, and fragrances.
- Keep it simple. Avoid oversharing which could lead to divulging information that will work against you. Answer the board’s questions without too much detail. Don’t ask questions. Keep the conversation simple, polite, and to the point.
- Prepare for questions designed to push your buttons. Someone on the board may try to push your buttons to see how you react. Keep cool. Don’t become defensive. Answer calmly to show you are even-tempered.
- Don’t ask for feedback. Avoid asking the board members how you did, what they thought, or if you’re in.
- Thank them and wait patiently. You should expect to hear back from the board through your agent within a week.
Commonly asked interview questions will center around your finances, work, home life, hobbies, background, pets, and your interest in the building and neighborhood. You will likely encounter some variation of the following questions:
Finances. It’s the job of the board to ensure all residents have the financials to keep the building in good standing. Prepare for questions to clarify how financially stable you are, and don’t be surprised by questions about any flags in your finances.
- Do you have enough money to live here and make timely payments every month?
- Are you prepared for any increases in the maintenance due to unforeseen repairs?
- Please tell us about why you have this negative record on your credit history.
Your interest in the building and neighborhood. Your answers should reflect your affinity to the building and neighborhood, willingness to follow the co-op rules, interest in participating in the board (one day), and financial stability. Be sure you know the rules, avoid mentioning anything about moving for financial reasons, and avoid mentioning anything you dislike about the building.
- What do you think of the building?
- Why do you want to live in the building?
- What do you like about the neighborhood?
- Do you know/understand the rules of the building?
- Would you consider being part of the building board?
- Do you have questions about living in the building?
- Why are you moving?
Work. The board wants to ensure that your job is stable. Accentuate the positive regarding your work life and avoid sharing anything you dislike about your current job. If asked, clarify that your home will be used only for residential purposes (with the occasional work from home day, if applicable).
- What do you do for a living?
- How long have you been at your job?
- Do you like your work?
- Do you work from home?
- Will your home be used for business purposes?
Home life. Co-op boards want quiet, clean, and respectful neighbors. When answering the board’s questions, keep in mind that they are seeking applicants whose schedule, noise levels, habits, and guests won’t disturb other residents. If they ask you about your plans to renovate, simply let them know you have no immediate plans of renovating the home. If they ask you about how frequently you like to have parties or out-of-town guests, let them know you have occasional dinners with close friends but not many out of town guests.
- Are you planning on doing renovations?
- Do you like to have parties?
- Do you smoke?
- Do you frequently have out of town guests?
Hobbies and Interests. Any interests you have that would likely disturb your neighbors are best kept to yourself at this time. Reading, writing, painting, and other “quiet” activities are perfectly suitable hobbies to disclose during your interview process; playing the drums, hosting salsa dancing sessions, and your love of heavy metal are best kept to yourself.
- What are your hobbies?
- What do you do for fun?
- What kind of music do you listen to?
- What social organizations are you involved with?
Background. It’s illegal to reject co-op applicants based on race, gender, marital status, national origin, citizenship, sexual orientation, military status, disability, alienage, color, or choice of lawful occupation, so some of the board’s questions may seem intrusive. If they skirt the issues, simply answer vaguely and honestly.
- What schools did you go to?
- Where have you lived?
- How did you and your partner meet?
Pets. Buildings that allow dogs want to make sure the pet won’t be a nuisance or a danger to residents. A pet interview may be required.
- Do you have pets?
- Can your pet be touched and held?
- Does it have a history of biting?
- Is it completely housebroken?
- Does your dog bark?
Once you have prepared in advance, the key to your interview is to appear relaxed and likable. Best wishes to you! You will do great!
Contact me here for assistance with buying or selling a home in New York City.
Selling a home in New York City can be a daunting task, so it’s important to be prepared before listing a home. In order to help you in your sales journey, we’ve put together a Seller’s Checklist meant to help manage your expectations and make your home selling experience as seamless as possible.
☑ Select An Experienced Real Estate Professional
Selecting an experienced real estate professional is the most important item on our sellers checklist. The value that seasoned agents provide includes:
- Understanding your home’s value and educating you on the market: market conditions change frequently and a well-experienced agent can guide you on what to expect considering current conditions.
- Pricing your home appropriately based on the condition, location, comparables, and recent market trends: a well-priced home will sell quickly and may attract multiple offers.
- Creating an effective and wide-reaching marketing strategy that will garner the attention of potential buyers worldwide: the audience you reach is expanded exponentially when working with a real estate agency.
- Developing elegant and high-quality marketing materials including photography, brochures, mailers, digital ads, print ads, videos, social media exposure, and websites when appropriate: marketing matters and should be done right the first time.
- Pitching public relations when appropriate: for press-worthy properties, agents can secure PR that will amplify your home’s exposure.
- Coordinating all open houses: agent-run weekend and weekday open houses take the headache (and emotion) out of showing your home for sale.
- Fielding all inquiries and reviewing potential buyers’ qualifications: most New York City homes get a lot of inquiries before the right buyers walk through the door.
- Negotiating on your behalf: expert negotiation skills make all the financial difference.
Since you’ll likely be spending a lot of time with your agent, select someone with whom you get along well and whose communication style matches yours.
☑ Research the Market
The market fluctuates frequently in New York City, and the potential asking price for a home can vary on a floor-to-floor, line-to-line, and block-to-block basis. Keep up with market trends by reviewing quarterly market reports for insight into where your asking price point should be. Your agent will advise you on price, but reviewing the market will help you understand what neighborhoods and home sizes are in highest demand, as well as how long you can expect your home to be on the market before selling.
☑ Know your Home
Getting a home inspection will allow you to mitigate issues hurting your home’s value. Anything from a leaky faucet to faulty wiring to damaged blinds will lower the actual and perceived value of your home. Repairs should either be handled before showing, or items in need of repair should be disclosed in the property description. Similarly, find out everything there is to know about your building’s financials, any upcoming construction, needed repairs, land leases, bed bug incidents, and board requirements. Your level of transparency and disclosure could make or break a deal.
☑ Budget for Closing Costs
There are a number of closing costs to be aware of before embarking on the sales process. Here are some of the costs you should budget for:
|Fee||Approximate Cost||Condos/ Townhouses||Co-ops|
|Agent Commission||6% of sales price||x||x|
|Seller’s Attorney||$1500 – $2500||x||x|
|Managing Agent / Co-op Attorney Processing Fee||$650||x||x|
|New York City Transfer Tax||1% of price for purchase of $500,000 or less; 1.425% of price for purchase over $500,000 (Paid by Seller, except sale by Sponsor)||x||x|
|New York State Transfer Tax||0.4% of price (Paid by Seller, except sale by Sponsor)||x||x|
|Reserve Fund Contribution (if applicable)||Determined by condo board, payable by buyer unless otherwise stated||x|
|Move-out Deposit||$500- $1000 (usually refundable if no damage)||x||x|
|Payoff Bank Fees (if applicable)||$250+|
|E Tax Filing (ACRIS)||$100||x||x|
|Property Condition Disclosure Statement||$500||x|
|NYS Capital Gains Tax Withholding**||8.82% of taxable gain on sale (only applicable to non-US residents)||x||x|
|(FIRPTA) Only applicable to non-US residents||Buyer to withhold 10% of purchase price||x||x|
|Stock Transfer Tax||$0.05 per share||x|
|Flip Tax (if applicable)||Determined by co-op building (unless otherwise stated or negotiated)|
|Lost stock and lease fees||$250+||x|
|Estate fees||TBD: Co-op may impose additional fees for estate sales||x|
|UCC-3 Filing Fee||$75+||x|
☑ Prepare your Home for Showings
If your budget permits, professionally stage your home or focus on the main rooms in your home. However, whether or not you stage your home, simple adjustments will make a big difference in the eye of the beholder. Your home should look clean and welcoming, so that potential buyers can easily visualize themselves in your space. To achieve this look, be sure to:
- Give the home a fresh coat of paint: neutral colors work best to create a neutral space
- Shine the floors: a good coat of wax is a must for sprucing up your home.
- Declutter your home and depersonalize the space: Excessive furniture, clothing in closets, family portraits, books, shampoos, razors, and other personal items take away from the ‘blank canvas’ you’re aiming to create; a good rule of thumb is to remove 50% of your belongings before showing the home.
- Freshen up the bathroom: Reglazing your tub and shower walls is a great way to freshen up the bathroom on a small budget, be sure any broken tiles or areas needing recaulking are taken care of, and buy new bathroom accessories and fixtures for an updated feeling.
- Spruce up the details: take care of seemingly small problems such as scuff marks on baseboards, scratches in wood floors, stains on carpets, leaky faucets, and squeaky cabinet doors
- Clean like you’ve never cleaned before: Every nook and cranny of every room, closet, and cabinet should be deep-cleaned like never before; the home should also smell fresh when visitors arrive.
- Lighten up each room: the neutral paint colors will help, as will table and floor lamps with warm light bulbs to create a soothing atmosphere.
Listing your home for sale doesn’t have to be a mysterious process. With the right agent, the right marketing plan, and the right presentation, your New York City home will attract qualified buyers and you’ll be glad you invested in the market when you did. It’s a great time to sell in New York City, and it’s a great time to buy as well.
The Markets. Fixed rates on home loans fell sharply in the past week to their lowest levels since May of last year, in response to the markets — especially the continued drop in oil prices. Freddie Mac announced that for the week ending January 8, 30-year fixed rates decreased to 3.73% from 3.88% the week before. The average for 15-year loans fell to 3.05%. Adjustables were down slightly, with the average for one-year adjustables decreasing one tick to 2.39% and five-year adjustables down to 2.98%. A year ago, 30-year fixed rates were at 4.51%, which is over 0.75% higher than today’s levels. Attributed to Frank Nothaft, vice president and chief economist, Freddie Mac — “Rates on home loans fell to begin the year as 10-year Treasury yields slid beneath 2.0% for the first time in three months. Meanwhile, the Fed minutes indicated ongoing discussion regarding the timing of the first rate hike. Of the few economic releases this week, ADP Research Institute reports the private sector added an estimated 241,000 jobs in December, which exceeded market expectations and followed an upward revision of 19,000 jobs in November.” Rates indicated do not include fees and points and are provided for evidence of trends only. They should not be used for comparison purposes.
Current Indices For Adjustable Rate Mortgages
Updated January 9, 2014
|Daily Value||Monthly Value|
|6-month Treasury Security||0.08%||0.11%|
|1-year Treasury Security||0.23%||0.21%|
|3-year Treasury Security||1.00%||1.06%|
|5-year Treasury Security||1.50%||1.64%|
|10-year Treasury Security||2.03%||2.21%|
|12-month LIBOR||0.602% (Dec)|
|12-month MTA||0.121% (Dec)|
|11th District Cost of Funds||0.686% (Nov)|
Rent or Buy? The Math Is Changing
Billy Gasparino and Jenna Dillon-Gasparino were savvy enough to wait out the housing boom of a decade ago as renters. Not until 2010, well into the bust, did they buy a house in the Venice neighborhood of Los Angeles, less than a mile from the beach, for $810,000. [NYT]
Cramped city dwellers often want to buy the apartment next door and combine units, but the borrowing process can get complicated
When it comes to combining dwelling units, two really are better than one. But expect higher fees and more paperwork.
Mortgages for connecting two condos or co-ops, or converting a multifamily to a single-family house, can be complicated. “It’s not the kind of thing that you take off the shelf,” says Mike McPartland, head of investment finance for North America at Citi Private Bank. [WSJ]
Banks are looking to expand their programs aimed at helping doctors, lawyers and others in well-paid professions qualify for large mortgages
The rise of the jumbo-loan market has some lenders stepping up efforts to attract lawyers and doctors as borrowers.
So-called specialty-profession loans, designed to ease the qualification process for people in certain professions, may offer lures such as low—or no—down payments or no mortgage-insurance requirement. “Historically, these loans perform very well and have low default rates,” says Michael Zimov, a physician-specialist officer at Ohio-based Fifth Third Bank. [WSJ]
Contact me to discuss assisting with the pricing, sale, or purchase of a home.
- Average condo prices climbed considerably since last year, with a 35% increase in average price and a 30% increase in average price per square foot. Median price only saw a 2% increase. These figures were supported by growth in the number of sales over $5M.
- Average discount from last asking price to last sale price for condos also tightened to just 1.7%.
- Co-op average price per square foot was up 8% year-over-year and average days on the market decreased by 36% from last year, down to an average of 90 days. Listed inventory also dropped 21% since Jan 2013 to just 2,463 co-op units on the market.
- Average price per square foot saw double-digit gains in the one and two bedroom categories and single-digit gains in the studios and three bedrooms.
- Average days on market decreased by 38% year-over-year, the lowest average since August 2010, further indicating the tightening of the Brooklyn market.
The full reports are available at the links below.