The Market

The scariest co-op board interview ever

Teri Rogers Headshot - Floral
By Teri Karush Rogers  |
September 24, 2009 - 9:05AM

We enjoy eavesdropping on what board members are talking about on Habitat Magazine's BoardTalk forum, and every once in awhile we stumble across something irresistible.

Consider this recent thread entitled "home visits." Hmmm, we thought, something about nurses aides or social workers for the homebound....?

Not exactly.

"Our board is considering paying home visits to applicants who are purchasing in our co-op before they will approve them. Anyone doing this or hearing about this practice. Is this legal?"

So far, the answers are sparse: One poster remarked that it sounded unwise, and another said they'd once known someone unlucky enough to be home-visited by a co-op board on the Lower East Side "but it may have been some kind of tax-sheltered or subsidized co-op."

We checked in with two of our BrickTank experts, a managing agent and a lawyer, for their reaction.

Stephen Sladkus, a real estate attorney with Wolf Haldenstein Adler Freeman & Herz, said home visits were probably legal, so long as the board conducts them with every prospective purchaser.

"As for whether it's a good or bad idea? I think if people knew about this requirement when bidding on an apartment, many people would look at another building instead," he says.

We also bounced this off Michael Wolfe, the president of Midboro Management.  He doesn't know of any boards who conduct home visits, and he doesn't advise it.

"On the positive side, the board or its representative can provide an added measure of due-dilligence.  For example, the home was neat and clean, pet or smoke odor was prevalent, etc.  However, it could also expose the board to issues concerning discrimination," he says.

"For example, the board conducts such a visit and they turn down the application, but the inspection revealed a protected class. You have now exposed the board to a discrimination suit even though it is not warranted," he says.

Also, the the application process is invasive and comprehensive enough: "The letters of reference, background checks and personal interviews  should suffice," says Wolfe.


Related posts:

Killing deals to protect property values is risky business

1 in 10 co-op sales inflated to pass the board

Approval, schmoovel! Renovation perks for board members

4 neat ways to use an investigative lawyer in a co-op or condo

How to concierge your doorman





Teri Rogers Headshot - Floral

Teri Karush Rogers

Founder & Publisher

Founder and publisher Teri Karush Rogers launched Brick Underground in 2009. As a freelance journalist, she had previously covered New York City real estate for The New York Times. Teri has been featured as an expert on New York City residential real estate by The New York Times, New York Daily News, amNew York, NBC Nightly News, The Real Deal, Business Insider, the Huffington Post, and NY1 News, among others. Teri earned a BA in journalism and a law degree from New York University.

Brick Underground articles occasionally include the expertise of, or information about, advertising partners when relevant to the story. We will never promote an advertiser's product without making the relationship clear to our readers.