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Q. I'm searching for an apartment to buy and I'd like to know how to find coops that don't require 1 or 2 years mortgage and maintenance in liquid funds. This seems like a ridiculous request if you have the equivalent in a Roth IRA which would be accessible. 

I've found one co-op that will consider far less with 10 years or greater employment history with one's current employer.  What other options are out there and how do I find them?

A.    This requirement is not unusual--nor is it universal. The challenge is finding a more flexible board, say our experts.

"There are plenty of co-ops whose rules are more lenient," says real estate attorney Adam Stone of Regosin, Edwards, Stone & Feder. "But those generally will not be the Fifth Avenue or Park Avenue buildings. It may not be possible to know a building's particular rules before going to see the apartment. But once you know who the managing agent is you can request a copy of the coop application and ask if there are any predetermined guidelines for applicants."

A listing probably won't discluse this info, but you may find a hint.

"You might focus on buildings that allow 80% financing as a possible indicator of a more flexible board," says  real estate broker Gordon Roberts of Warburg Realty. In addition, he says, "the listing broker is probably your best resource if you’re searching on your own, especially if they have prior experience in the building."

Explaining your circumstances to your own agent may also be useful.

"A good agent who has sold a lot begins to intuitively sense various buildings' tolerances and may recommend one building over another," says real estate broker Deanna Kory of Corcoran.  "That being said, be aware that co-op boards change their philosophies on what they require as the boards change, so even if a broker suspects that you can get through the absolute best thing to do in almost all instances is to hope that the exclusive agent is tuned in to the board's sentiment on such issues."

A plugged-in agent who cannot get the answer from the current exclusive agent "might be able to call friends who have recently sold in that building to get a more up to date answer," says Kory.  "Also, remember that if the owner has friends on the board, a seller's agent can 'run the buyer's financials' by that person."

Another approach is to focus your search on sponsor units, suggests asset manager and real estate broker Roberta Axelrod of Time Equities.

"They do not typically have these type of requirements so long as the purchaser meets the lenders criteria," says Axelrod. "An experienced broker will know which buildings have more liberal policies and where sponsor units are available for sale.


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