Whether or not you are interested in purchasing a coop or condo, your offer will be substantiated by a board package, which is a detailed application through which a building's Board of Directors will ask you to present your financials, personal and professional references, employment history, tax returns, and credit history. For many this may feel like an invasion of privacy, but it is the only way for a group of relative strangers to get an accurate picture of who you are as a person in addition to how much you have in the bank. Buildings are communities of families, investors, professionals, and artists who have all met a set of standard requirements in order to call a building home; the board package is the only way for the Board to screen prospective buyers and protect the collective vested interest and must be filled out to the best of your ability.
Board Packages are extensive and thorough, but they are generally not complicated. It is of utmost importance that the requirements are met for an application to be considered. Your broker will walk you through the requirements, ensure that you understand the contents of the application, and assist you in compiling the substantiating documents required by the Board. Incomplete applications will not be processed, in fact, they will often be returned as many times as is required to get clear, thorough, and specific information. Board requirements must be met, but the submission of documents or information not requested by the Board can delay an application as much as an impartial or incomplete application. Follow the directions and submit only what is asked of you. References are important documents attesting to your personal and professional character, and should be submitted on appropriate letterhead.
- Know your Budget. Know how much you want to dedicate towards a down payment and monthly expenses
- Get Preapproved. A mortgage preapproval is easy to obtain, will help you understand your qualifications, and will identify you as a buyer who has done their homework.
- Prioritize your needs. Real estate is often about trade offs, it's rare that we find everything that we want within our dedicated budget. You should know ahead of time what your priorities are so that you are prepared to choose when it's trade off time.
- Set a target date. It will take time to identify a suitable property, obtain a mortgage, and move from offer accepted to closing, plan accordingly.
- Choose a New York City Real Estate attorney, lawyers from other locations may not be familiar with contract covenants or protocol. Lawyers unfamiliar with New York real estate can delay and/or jeopardize your deal.
- Shop around, looking at one type of building in one or two neighborhoods may not be enough to identify a suitable property, and may in fact prove to be a disservice, as your understanding of the market in a specific neighborhood may be skewed due to misinformation.
- Learn your target neighborhood, schools, parks, grocery stores, nightlife. These are all important aspects of daily life and should factor into your decision.
- Learn your target building. Make sure that the building fits your lifestyle and needs, check amenities and house rules.
- Review building financials and minutes with your lawyer and agent once you have identified a suitable apartment.
- Work closely with your broker to gather support materials for you mortgage application and Board Package
If an interview is required, it can vary from an informal, "tell me about yourself" style conversation, to a formal interview with all members of the board. The point of the interview is to verify your submitted information and fill in the blanks that can not be expressed by the simple enumeration of assets and liabilities.
Before going to an interview
- Review before your application before your interview. Remember that you only exist on paper to the Board, therefore any details listed in the application should be matched in person.
- Please be prepared to answer personal, professional, and financial questions. The Board will want to get to know you as a person in addition to a financially qualified buyer.
- Delegate a spokesperson for different sections of the board package. Couples or co-purchasers contributing jointly to a purchase, should appear as a cohesive unit to the Board, it is important that you present a unified front.
- Be on time and dress conservatively. Like any interview, a board interview is the only opportunity to make an important first impression.
- Answer all questions clearly and avoid disclosing more than is asked of you.As with the board package, unwillingness to answer certain questions will raise a red flag to the board, and talking too much could reveal something that may be viewed unfavorably, at very least it could be viewed as a lack of respect for the board's time.