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Co-op board interviews may be the stuff of lore and apprehension, but the vast majority of turndowns occur beforehand while the board is reviewing your “package.”
Board packages should be airtight: Consistent, complete, easy to understand and raising no unanswered questions.
And oh, yes: You and your broker must assemble this masterpiece within 10 days after the contract is signed.
Broker-blogger Malcolm Carter offers six tips for putting together a winning board package:
1. Start preparing before you sign the contract.
- Retrieve copies of your last three years’ federal income tax returns
- Collect previous three months’ bank, credit card and brokerage statements
- Ask three friends, three professional contacts, and your landlord or property manager to draft reference letters
- Get a letter from your employer attesting to your time and position in the organization
- Ask your accountant to vouch for you and your income in writing if you are self-employed.
2. Be absolutely consistent.
Your loan application is often part of your board package, so make sure the numbers match your financial statement.
There must be no discrepancy between the numbers in your supporting documents (#1 above) and the figures you submit on the financial statement. Everything must add up and track, including cash in bank, money owed or monthly payments for rent, mortgage loans and utilities.
3. Pick a date and stick to it.
All the documents you submit should be tied to the date on your financial statement. Don’t try downloading the latest brokerage amount if the date falls after what you put on the statement.
4. Type EVERYTHING except your signature.
Nothing in the board application package, especially that financial statement, should be handwritten. (There are free online programs that allow you to type on a PDF, such as PDFill. They are somewhat balky but get the job done.) And don’t forget to sign your tax returns.
5. Anticipate every question.
Add a note to your package when an item might confuse board members, overstate or understate debt and income, or involve pending income such as a bonus or home sale.
6. Write a winning cover letter.
Though not usually required, a cover letter such as one that you might craft when applying for a job can be helpful.
It is an opportunity to eloquently puff your sense of responsibility, your future devotion to a new community, your love of the building and the city, and your other attributes. The letter also gives you another chance to offer additional explanations if necessary.