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Who helps the buyer put together a co-op board package when there's no broker?

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Question:

I'm looking to save some money on buying a co-op and have been looking at some for-sale-by-owner apartments (since sellers seem to pass the savings they'd spend on a broker on to the listing price). I'm just wondering, if I go with one of those and I don't work with a broker, who helps me with my board package?

Answer:

If there are no brokers involved, you're going to have to put together that (hopefully perfect) co-op board package on your own, according to our experts.

"One of the services that real estate broker provides in connection with the sale of a cooperative apartment is assistance with the purchase application," says Jeff Reich, an attorney with Schwartz Sladkus Reich Greenberg Atlas LLP. "When no broker is involved, the purchaser is on his or her own with respect to the preparation of the purchase application." Reich says an attorney may be willing to help, but that kind of situation is the exception rather than the rule. "In my opinion this would be an unusual arrangement," he says, though, considering most lawyers get paid by the hour, they might not be entirely opposed to it, he says.

Typically a seller's broker will help you compile your package, and, according to Deanna Kory of Corcoran, "they also will direct you as to what else needs to be done to make it look the way it should to be presented to the board. Hopefully they are well-versed in what the co-op is looking for."

And if you decide to look with a broker, he or she will help you compile the board package whether or not there is a seller's broker.

"It can be helpful, if you do decide to have a buyer's broker, that you chose someone who's very familiar with the co-op application process and understands how different boards might receive your application," Kory says. "Boards vary in their expectations: co-ops located in the Upper East Side 'Gold Coast' area have different expectations than perhaps either an Upper West Side or downtown co-op. The broker who represents the seller should know the building, but sometimes that is not the case. So be aware of that."

And remember that you're not always going to save money by opting against a buyer's broker, since technically speaking it's the seller who pays them, according to Gordon Roberts, an agent with Sotheby's. But if you do decide to go broker-less and choose a seller who is doing the same thing, you may be able to do enough online research to put the package together on you're own, and knock six percent off the price for your trouble.

"There is quite a bit of information online about board packages and how to make them successful. Maybe you can self-educate," Roberts says (here's how to make a board package look good, and what to include and not include). "Perhaps the seller can provide assistance, but don’t count on it. When you’re on own, you’re on your own."


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