After living in rentals in Forest Hills and the Upper East Side for years, I was in contract to buy a studio with an eat-in kitchen on the Lower East Side. The co-op was in a large complex comprised of four buildings and 1,700 apartments.
I was a first-time buyer, so I didn’t really know what to expect. I was buying the apartment on my own after years of working as a writer/magazine editor. My broker had assured me it was an easy board, but it was still a nerve-wracking experience.
The interview was held in the co-op’s management office, which is on the property, at around 7 o’clock on a weekday evening. When I arrived, there were three or four other people waiting to be interviewed in the small vestibule of five or six chairs outside the management office. It looked like a small doctor’s office, and no one chatted or paid much attention to each other. The other interviewees were in business casual clothing like me.
When I got called back to the meeting room, I expected to see a large committee around a boardroom table. Wrong! There were only four people -- an elderly woman in a headscarf, an older gentleman who kept nodding off, a younger Orthodox Jewish woman, and a middle-aged man who must have been the head of the committee.
There were binders and files all over the boardroom table, so I was surprised at the casual questions I was asked during the interview.
It was just chitchat: “Why do you want to live in our building? What do you like about the neighborhood? Where did you live before?”
I’d been really focused on all the paperwork and knowing my responses to questions about the financials. I figured that would be the main point of the interview -- making it clear that I could afford the mortgage.
I also wanted to make sure I didn’t trip up and mention that I have cats, which are technically not allowed. (Of course, I now know everyone in my buildings has pets, and no one even mentions the no animal policy).
But here I was with these people who didn’t even seem to have looked beyond the top sheet of my file. It made me think I was probably already rubberstamped for approval, and the interview was just a formality. Talk about anti-climactic!
The next day or so, I found out I’d been approved for the studio. In my case, financials weren’t an issue. I’d put a lot down and wasn’t trying to get a large mortgage beyond my means.
My advice to anyone preparing for his or her own interview: Be prepared, be personable, and don’t be surprised if it’s not as bad as you think.
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