My Co-op Board Interview

"This Is Not a White Glove Building" (My Big Fat Board Interview)

By Anonymous Manhattan Co-op Owner  | June 15, 2010 - 11:23AM
board interview chair.jpg

This was the second co-op apartment for my husband and me, and the first interview was a lot scarier.

Our first real estate agent had scared the bejesus out of us by saying the board was really, really tough and she didn’t know if we could pass.

We did, and having done it before, we were a little more relaxed this time but still a little nervous, because it's so personal--a board interview is all about checking you out and analyzing you.

All our broker said was to keep our answers to what they ask and don’t get chatty.  It’s almost like being a witness at a trial—answer the question and leave it at that.

I dressed nicely but not too nicely, because you never know what prejudices people are going to bring with them.  It can be on either side—they might think you’re too sloppy or too uppity. You kind of want to hit it in the middle.

I also prepared to mention the fact that I had started the family committee in our old building and helped revamp the playroom, and the basement--I wanted to show I was a good active citizen.

The interview was in someone’s apartment, with three members of the board.  At the time, the board was made up of a lot of the elderly people who had been renters before the building went co-op. 

They were fairly warm and much less business-y than our former board at another large prewar building. Back then I felt we were being grilled and put on the chopping block, whereas this turned out to be completely different.

It was more about them declaring who they were than finding out who we were.

The big theme of the meeting was We Are Not a White Glove Building. 

They went over and over how they do things and making sure we understood the culture of the building.

They said they liked to keep the maintenance down, and so they don’t have a lot of porter staff.  So food deliveries have to be accepted in the lobby. 

That was kind of a big deal to me.

In my mind I’m thinking, "You have to go down the stairs and get your food? That’s annoying."

But I just nodded and smiled. I was like, “Sure, fine, that sounds great.”

They also told us that we shouldn’t run our dishwasher during peak hours, because the building pays for electric and water.

Everything was news to us.

But it was very clear what their agenda was, and we tried not to step in it: These were original owners, probably on smaller incomes than newer ones who bought at higher prices, and they didn’t want people coming in expecting the building to be something it’s not – they didn’t want anyone to build a pool and add six staff members.

I was very cognizant of that when I talked about my involvement with the family committee in our old building--I tempered it--and it seemed to go over well.

We had a good feeling walking out of the interview. They let us know pretty quickly that we were approved. 

And everything they said turned out to be true. This building is a lot less white glove than our old building. 

There I could throw a box out the back door and they come around a million times a day making garbage pickups, including flattening boxes, if necessary.  Now we're responsible for the flattening.

And when we arrived home on a Sunday with a car full of stuff they would unload it and send it up the back elevator. Here, you unload the car yourself, and bring the cart up and down yourself.

To this day, we grumble a bit inside our heads. But though I was surprised to find this stuff out in the board interview, it wasn't enough to change my mind about the apartment. It's a great apartment, and you adapt.

See all My Big Fat Board Interview.

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