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Q. I'm pregnant with twins and determined that the next apartment I buy will have a washer-dryer. Some of the co-op apartments we have looked at so far say that washer-dryers are permitted with board approval.
What are the factors that go into that, and can we get 'pre approved' for a washer-dryer?
A. Death and taxes are the only things that are certain in life, whereas getting advance approval for a washer-dryer (or any improvement to a co-op apartment before you actually own it) is on the opposite end that spectrum, according to our experts.
That said, there are a number of things you can do to boost the chances that you will be able to launder clothes in the sanctuary of your prospective digs.
"It's all about the due diligence," says closing attorney Karen S. Sonn of Sonn & Associates. "Even if the super says yes and the broker says yes, you and your attorney need to check with the property manager. Does the board allow it and under what circumstances? Some only allow them in certain lines and combinations depending on the piping that is affected. Your attorney should also find out whether there are any circumstances under which the rule might be changed and under what circumstances the board can decide to remove your machine down the road."
You can and should get the seller to put a guarantee into the contract, but understand that it won't help you after closing, bcause the terms of the contract merge into the proprietary lease, says Sonn.
Why are boards so reluctant to pre-approve?
"There are too many potential pitfalls," says co-op and condo attorney Robert Braverman of Braverman & Associates. "What is the capacity of the washer dryer? Where is it going to be located? You can make it conditional but very often those types of preapprovals become subjects of controversy."
It's also a slippery slope, opening the door for future buyers to bother busy boards with more requests for preapprovals, notes Braverman.
Real estate broker Deanna Kory of Corcoran concurs that boards typically turn a deaf ear.
"Occasionally you can receive approval in advance or during the interview, but that is very rare, so my advice would be to stick with buildings that allow washer-dryers or better yet, buy an apartment with an approved washer dryer already installed," says Kory.
A final word of caution: Do not rely on what the seller's real estate agent tells you, says Doug Heddings, president of The Heddings Property Group.
"I have personal experience with this situation," says Heddings. "Many years ago, my then-pregnant wife and I purchased a co-op. The seller's agent was one of my colleagues and 'guaranteed' us that washer/dryers were not only permitted but already existed in the building. What the agent did not know is that the board had recently voted to prohibit installation of any new units. It wasn't until our board interview when we talked about how excited we were to have a washer/dryer that the directors informed us of their recent decision."
They went ahead and bought the place anyway, he said.
"The laundry room was on the first floor and the nanny did all the laundry during the week and the cleaning lady did big items once a week," he says. "We rarely saw the laundry room and all had clean clothes...even our baby boy."
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