My husband and I had been renting for five years when we put an offer on a two-bedroom co-op in Inwood. We had no idea what to expect about the process or the interview.
The seller’s real estate agent prepared the co-op board package. When we looked over the nearly 100 pages, only 18 were things we needed to sign, and the rest were rules. The attorneys went back and forth about some items in the contract (not the rules) and finally I said “fuck it” and signed.
As for getting approved by the board, everyone was making such a big deal over our pets, particularly the broker. We have a dog, three cats, a degu which is like a mini chinchilla, a sugar glider, a snake, a lizard, a turtle and parakeet. But the seller had said the building was very pet-friendly so I wasn’t too worried.
My agent, on the other hand, was very worried.
So worried that he asked my husband to list only two cats on the application and leave all the other animals off. He convinced my husband to put one less cat, but no one told me! I had filled out the application honestly. This upset our lawyer who felt we should list the accurate number of cats and said that all the paperwork should match and be truthful.
The lawyer called us the day of the interview and told us how to "play it." Answer questions with the shortest answer possible. Don't volunteer information. And to say (if asked about it) that we didn't list the caged animals because we didn't think they counted.
Undaunted, we went full-steam ahead.
Prior to the interview, we debated whether to bring our baby daughter or get a sitter but opted to have our parents babysit her. Overall, our game plan was to be as under-the-radar as possible. I have a somewhat well-known online presence and we definitely wanted to keep my alter-ego under wraps.
The interview was held after work hours in the complex’s management office. Only two board members attended-–one woman in her 60s and one guy in his mid-30s. They were casual and friendly. Somewhat comically to us, they told us they had recently drastically reduced the number of pages in the board package.
They also told us they have only turned one person down in the building’s history and that was due to financials. This made me feel great, like there was nothing to worry about. And when we sat down, they simply told us the rules of the building, like having to have 80% of our unit covered by carpet.
The only mention of pets was to remind us to pick up after our dog and the rules for having our dog on the roof.
In fact, I really got the impression throughout that they were trying to impress us instead of the other way around. They touted the building’s amenities and told us how great it was.
Thirty minutes went by quickly without any questions of us and at the end they asked if we had any questions of them. We didn’t.
When we walked out of there they said they would call the next day.
Our agent called us as promised and said we were approved. We are very happy we picked a building with such a cordial and relaxed board in such a pet-friendly building. I’m sure we—and our myriad of pets—will be very happy there.
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My Big Fat Board Interview (all)
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12 ways to throw a board interview