5 tips to help you ace your next NYC co-op board interview, according to a board member with 15 years of experience
For those trying to buy into a co-op building in New York City, the application process can be lengthy and stressful. Going before a co-op board for an interview is the last step of the process and an opportunity for prospective buyers to show their future neighbors that they will make a strong addition to the building's community. Business Insider caught up with real-estate broker Steven Goldschmidt, who has been serving on the board of his building for 15 years, to find out his advice for those preparing for a co-op board interview. Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.
Getting approval to buy into a co-op building in New York City can be a lengthy process. Buyers have to find a building they like that fits their price range. They have to get their offer preliminarily accepted. And they have to fill out a board package, which usually requires reference letters and a deep dive into personal finances. Sometimes, these steps can take weeks, even months, to complete. Once the board package has been submitted and an applicant is called in for an interview, they're nearing the finish line, but the next step isn't exactly easy, either. That's because New York City is notorious for its strict co-op boards. In fact, boards in New York City do not have to tell applicants why they were rejected unless the board violates the city's Human Rights Law. So, while interviews with co-op boards are often considered a formality, they are, nonetheless, important. All this can make the interview process extremely tricky. How to nail a co-op board interview Co-op board members are volunteers who live in the building and are voted in. These boards are in charge of dealing with things like the physical status of the building, the financial status of the building, and the vetting of prospective buyers. Board members use the interview time to address any questions they may have and to determine whether or not the applicant will be a good fit. Showing up to an interview will likely be the board's first in-person impression of an applicant, so it's important that they're prepared. To find out the best way to prepare for a co-op board interview, Business Insider caught up with real estate professional Steven Goldschmidt. Goldschmidt has been working in the industry for over 40 years and is currently the senior vice president and director of sales at Warburg Realty. He's also been a member of his building's co-op board for 15 years. While Business Insider can't disclose the name of the building, units there range from $500,000 to $3 million.SEE ALSO: A New York woman turned her passion for old homes into a business that has more than 1 million followers on social media. Here's how she did it — and her 3 tips for anyone trying to do the same. DON'T MISS: Here's the most realistic retirement age for the typical worker in every US state 1. Show up 15 to 25 minutes early.
Goldschmidt suggests showing up early to your interview. "Co-op boards usually meet in the evening. They are volunteers, and they meet on their own time," he told Business Insider. "Take it seriously and treat the process respectfully." For Goldschmidt's board in particular, interviews are usually conducted after board meetings, so applicants are advised to arrive around 25 minutes before the interview is set to start. However, if an applicant isn't given guidance by the board on how early to show up, Goldschmidt says getting there around 15 minutes before the interview is a safe bet. 2. Don't show up wearing jeans.
Goldschmidt suggests keeping with the style of the building you are trying to buy into. For a building like Goldschmidt's, business casual is appropriate. However, if the applicant is looking to buy a $10 million apartment, Goldschmidt advises dressing it up a bit — "maybe add a tie," he said. "Certainly no jeans," he added. "Again, you want to treat the board members with respect." 3. Keep the questions to a minimum.
Goldschmidt explained to Business Insider that the purpose of the interview is for the board members to get to know the buyer, not the other way around. "This is not for the buyer to gather information. This is for the board to learn whatever it is they still have to learn about the people," he said. Any questions the buyer has about the building should be asked during the purchase process. They should already know the building's rules and requirements by the time they show up for the interview. 4. Don't just answer each question with a "yes" or a "no" — have a conversation.
Goldschmidt says that an applicant doesn't need to go overboard with their answers, but they should respond to the board's questions with more than just "yes" or "no." For example, if the board asks an applicant if they are planning to do renovation work, they shouldn't just say "yes." Goldschmidt explained that while it's not necessary to go into detail about the renovation plans, the applicant should tell the board when they plan on renovating and reassure them that they will abide by the rules of the building. "You don't need to go overboard, but have a relaxed conversation," he said. Goldschmidt also advises that the buyer maintain consistency between what they say in the interview and what they said in the board package. It is also important not to talk negatively about the state of the building or how it is being managed. 5. Don't feel like you need to fill dead air.
While having a conversation is encouraged, buyers shouldn't feel like they are the ones who have to carry the conversation. Sometimes, the board package checks out and the board can tell that the applicant is going to be a good fit in the first five minutes. In these cases, the interview is more of a formality than anything else. "Don't feel like you have to fill dead air. The board members are usually as nervous and awkward-feeling as the people they are interviewing," Goldschmidt said.
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