New York based property management firm, All Area Realty Services blog. Find tips for Co-Op Boards & Residential Building Management.

Possibly, the One Downside to Living in a Co-op

Posted by All Area Realty Services Team on Jun 18, 2018 2:49:16 PM

Living in a co-op building can be a great opportunity for many New Yorkers. The downside to living in a co-op is having to share building expenses regardless if the expense improves your way of living or not.

A recent example of this was for a New York City building in the West Village of Manhattan. The co-op board wanted to start a project that would put central air-conditioning in each apartment. The project was going to cost $300,000 – which would be split among all the homeowners.

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While it sounds like this would be a no-brainer “Yes” among all homeowners, what wasn’t put into consideration was some homeowners already paid for central air conditioning to be put in their individual units in previous years. In those instances, the homeowners who previously paid central air would now be chipping in for their neighbors central air. Some argued this wasn't fair.

When you become an owner of a co-op, you, along with all the owners, are expected to look after the entire building and plan for the building's future. In this case, the homeowners  who opposed this plan didn't see the value the central air-conditioning would bring to their individual units, especially if they had already paid to install it themselves previously.

The same could be true for co-ops who need to have elevators improved, common area maintenance, building repairs, etc. While these areas may not affect the individual apartment itself, the expenses do. Even if an owner doesn't use the elevator, let's say they prefer the stairs, they are still expected as this is considered maintaining, updating, and investing into the building - as it is an asset. 

If you are in the market for a co-op, the lesson here is to make sure you speak with you real estate agent so that you know what to expect. Ask your agent what is included and/or expected of you as an owner should you buy the unit. Ask about how situations like this were handled in past years, and if all owners were happy with the results.  

All Area Realty Services is New York City’s leading real estate management company specializing in full-service property management for cooperative and condominium boards in the Manhattan area. Contact us today if you're looking for a professional property management company. 

 

Topics: Co-Op Board, Buying a Co-Op, Co-Op Building

Is Being a Co-op Board or Condo Board Member Difficult?

Posted by All Area Realty Services Team on May 30, 2018 3:25:53 PM

What does a board member do?

A co-op or condo board member's main role is to facilitate the day to day management of a building, by self management or by hiring a professional property management company. They often answer emails and calls from residents, interview and review applications of potential buyers and keep the building working efficiently according to both state/city law and building regulations - as well as keep residents informed. 

iStock-640177478Attending board member meetings is also important. Some boards stick to an agenda during their meetings while others take a more casual approach. When surveyed, property management professionals stated the biggest complaint from board members is not having a set agenda and the meeting lasting for hours.  A well led board will have a president that sets the tone, takes on a leadership role, delegates, and determines how meetings are run.  A good board president will know that having an agenda will ensure meeting stay short, run smoothly, and removes excess emotion and conflict that may arise. 

If you’re thinking about becoming a board member and you have skills in running meetings or organizing an agenda, bring this up in your application. This may give you an advantage if you can demonstrate these skills. 

What determines if you're a good candidate to serve on the board?

iStock-855667636There is not a set of guidelines to become a board member. You must first express interest and fill out an application. The board will interview you and you must pass the interview process before you can become an official board member. Most boards are looking for a team member who is well informed, committed, and has the time needed to serve the building.

Having a neutral personality and being able to remain calm and collected will help you to get a spot on the board. Another area that might help is your current job or previous job skills. Board members benefit from free legal and tax help. If you have an accounting background, you may be a great asset to help with the buildings financial books. Same goes with any construction, engineering, or legal experience. No experience? No problem. Apply anyways, its always good to have a diverse board.

All Area is New York City’s leading real estate management company specializing in full-service professional property management for cooperative and condominium boards in the Manhattan area. 

 

 

 

 

Topics: Co-Op Board, Condo Board Association, Co-Op Building

Should You Elect Diverse Co-Op Board Members?

Posted by All Area Realty Services Team on May 15, 2018 5:09:37 PM

The term ‘board member’ is sometimes associated with holding a political position. In co-op and condominium boards, this is not the case. Board members in the political sense are paid for their time and services. Board members in a co-op or condominium board are volunteers and often take time away from work and family as part of their commitment to board meetings, fellow members, and residents.

A board member is elected based on their experience and willingness to be a part of a building's board, which is tasked with the management and well being of the building and it's residents. Sometimes it’s a grand-fathered in position from one family generation to another, and other times it’s simply members who are looking for a way to become more involved in their buildings.

What Does Diversity Mean?

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Over time, the word diversity has evolved and created various meanings depending on the context in which the word is used. Let’s dive deeper.

In previous years - 50 years ago, when a corporate board of directors spoke of diversity they were often referring only to race or gender. Fast forward to today and the word is used to describe gender identity, religious beliefs, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, political preferences, age, and many others variables.

It’s been stated that most co-op and condo boards have changed in the past 5 years to conform with the new characteristics of diversity. Boards now want to have greater diversity among their board members because a diverse board means a better understanding and more options for residents to have someone to connect with when it comes to their various perspectives and situations. 

Choosing a Board Member

In some situations, the co-op board or a building's property management company will post a flier on the buildings bulletin letting residents know there is an opening to serve, only to receive one or two applications. When the candidate pool is limited, board members may be obligated to pick the first candidate who completes an application, regardless of normal board processes.

Does Seniority Over Rule Newbies?

Often, board members are the buildings residents who have lived within the building the longest. Why? Typically, it has nothing to do with seniority and everything to do with the fact of being more emotionally and financially invested in the building.

If you’ve lived in a property for a long time, you'll have some emotional ties to the building. When a new board member comes into play and wants to switch things up, you may be more apt to put your hand up and say, “Now, hold on a minute!” This causes homeowners to become more willing to step up and play the role of board member.

The question at hand – does seniority over rule newbies? In many boards, yes. But today, more and more young families are moving into buildings and want to be involved in what happens, especially if they have young children. The ideal “senior-run” board is no longer the norm.

Successfully Recruiting New Board Members

When a board member opening is up for election, it is important the property management company and the board itself drive attention to the opportunity. They can do this by putting fliers on each floor, in the elevators, on the homeowner’s online portal, sending out emails, etc. Board members should also see the benefits of recruiting new and possibly younger residents into the role.

If you’re a resident, try to get involved. Even though serving on your building's board is voluntary, it could be a great way to meet other homeowners, look after your building, and give you a sense of pride in where you reside.

All Area is New York City’s leading real estate management company specializing in full-service property management for cooperative and condominium boards in the Manhattan area. 

 

 

 

Topics: Co-Op Board

Co-op and Condo Insurance

Posted by All Area Realty Services Team on May 8, 2018 3:21:21 PM

Most people have some form of insurance, whether it is automobile, life, health, dental, or home insurance. It should come as no surprise that most mortgage lenders will require you to show proof of insurance prior to finalizing paperwork. In this instance, the lenders are covering their losses should anything happen between you signing the loan agreement  and before the loan is paid in full.

Today, expert property management professionals All Area Realty Services, share a few reasons why  co-op or condo insurance is important and answers the question of what happens when damage caused by another owner damages your co-op or condo as well?

Is Insurance Required by Law?

No. Generally, bylaws do not require you to show proof of insurance. In the case of a mortgage, the lender is requesting proof of insurance before they will process your paperwork. Even though homeowner’s insurance is not required, it is strongly recommended.

Here are two cases we've seen in our experience, where homeowner’s insurance would have come in handy:

A neighbor's bathroom overflows, or a pipe bursts and water seeps into your home.  

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  • If neither of you have insurance, you’ll both be suing each other for damages. With insurance, your insurance will take care of getting the damages fixed and get the correct party to make any payments needed
  • If the damage seeps into a common area, the building's insurance would need to have a claim filed and that would likely raise all homeowner premiums. In this case, you’d be paying for both your damages and the building's through your premium increases.
A neighbor leaves their gas stove on and it causes a fire. 
  • If they don’t have insurance or you don’t have insurance and the fire caused your property damage, after losing any or all of your belongings, you would also need to pay out of pocket for all damages and replacements.

There are several random things that could happen. As much as you try to avoid them, mistakes happen and sometimes they are inevitable. It is best to be prepared for these issues and have a homeowner’s insurance plan in place. 

Before you start shopping for the best coverage at the best price, find out what’s covered by your building’s policy and what isn't. Recently, Brick Underground, published a Co-op and Condo Insurance Checklist that is incredibly informative and lists several things for consideration. It is a must read!

Ask your building’s property management company if they have any partnerships with local insurance companies. There is a good chance you'll get a nice price break in working with a local company that is referred by your property manager and that most likely already insures other owners in your building.

All Area is New York City’s leading real estate management company specializing in full-service property management for cooperative and condominium boards in the Manhattan area. 

 

Topics: Co-Op Building, Co-op Insurance, Condo Insurance

Can You Work From Home If You Live in a Co-op?

Posted by All Area Realty Services Team on May 4, 2018 2:56:54 PM

With new home based businesses launching every 12 seconds, and statistically 80% of all businesses reportedly going virtual by 2020, how do you stay compliant regarding where you can conduct business, yet still make a living? This is becoming a common question many are facing. Without having a federal compliance, every state has different rules and regulations pertaining to the occupations allowed to operate from home based business.

If you are searching for a new home, and work from home, ask your real estate agent for your states regulations.  If you already live in a co-op and are thinking of starting a home based business, you should ask the property management company that services your building for guidance and advice. A professional property management company will be well-versed regarding these laws and regulations. 

As an expert property management company, All Area Realty Services we are going to share a basic overview when it comes to setting up shop in a co-op in New York. 

What Occupations Are Not Allowed to Have Home Offices In New York?

In New York City there are various laws and restrictions in place for people who want to operate their businesses from their homes. Here is a list of the occupations that are not allowed to have home based offices:

  • Public Relations (PR) Agencies
  • Barber Shops
  • Beauty Parlors
  • Commercial Stables or Kennels
  • Depilatory
  • Electrolysis
  • Interior Decorators Offices
  • Ophthalmic dispensing
  • Pharmacy
  • Real Estate
  • Insurance Office
  • Stockbrokers Offices
  • Veterinary Medicine
  • Daycare Businesses
  • Multiple Employee Businesses *check the law for how many employees as this will determine if you can have employees come to your home or not*
  • Businesses that require numerous deliveries

What Occupations Can Have Home Offices in New York?

With such a large list, you might be thinking, “Gees, what is allowed?” These are occupations that are compliant with the New York City laws:

  • Personal Consulting – computer based businesses
  • Copywriting
  • Journalist
  • Researcher
  • Therapy and Counseling Services *this is determined per building*

iStock-508291726Your co-op board cannot send you a cease and desist letter asking you to quit using your home for work unless you fail to comply with both building and city laws. An example of where a cease and desist letter would be appropriate - if you're teaching music lessons in your home and your students are loitering in the hallways, common areas, or lobby. This could be a violation of your building laws and the co-op board members have the right to ask you to conduct your services/business elsewhere.

Should You Tell A Co-Op Board During The Application Process That You Plan On Working From Home?

Yes. It is a good idea to be upfront about the type of work you will be conducting in your home. There are some buildings that promote a work/home balance and some that are very much against it. It all comes down to the building style and the foot traffic or noise you may be causing. Most boards do not want the extra foot traffic. It can cause concern and alter security measures for other co-op owners.

Some boards will let you get away with having a home based business if it does not become a distraction or inconvenience for other residents. Be friendly with your neighbors and let them know what you do. This will help them feel comfortable, keep an open dialogue, and hopefully mitigate complaints to co-op board members or the building's property management professionals.

All Area is New York City’s leading real estate management company specializing in full-service property management for cooperative and condominium boards in the Manhattan area. 

 

Topics: Co-Op Board, Buying a Co-Op, Co-Op Building

Common Co-op Board Interview Questions

Posted by All Area Realty Services Team on May 1, 2018 4:30:26 PM

Most applicants don’t make it in front of a co-op board due to a rejected application. But those who do have the opportunity to be interviewed by a co-op board should know what to expect, and go prepared. 

The interview is the last step of the application process and it’s really a meet and greet for the board and potential buyer. The boards job is to determine if the applicant is “normal” enough to fit the bill of “ideal buyer.” To help with questions, we're going to share a few common interview questions and recommendations for responses.

iStock-803192850Question: How do you like your job?

When you’re asked how do you like your job, this is not the time to go into great lengths about the current office drama, new manager you don’t like, or issues with your pay. Be short and to the point about how you enjoy your job and plan to stay there. 

Question: Are you planning a renovation?

Keep any renovation ideas to yourself and expose them after you’ve received your keys. It is aways better to make decisions about renovations and projects one you are an owner and have a good understanding of your building, co-op board, and the rules and regulations of renovations

Question: Do you plan to be a board member?

While you don’t want the board to feel you want someone else’s position, you also don’t want them to feel like you’re never interested in serving. Keep a neutral reply by simply stating, “If the opportunity arises and the board feels I am a great candidate, I’m open to discussing the opportunity when approached.”

Remember to be professional, polite and neutral. And if you are overly nervous, ask your real estate agent for a little coaching before the big day.

All Area is New York City’s leading real estate management company specializing in full-service property management for cooperative and condominium boards in the Manhattan area.

 

Topics: Co-Op Board, Buying a Co-Op, Co-Op Building

Co-op Board Member Ethics When It Comes To Selling An Apartment

Posted by All Area Realty Services Team on Apr 25, 2018 5:08:17 PM

Recently, there has been a little confusion on whether co-op board members can sell apartments within their co-op, which has led to many unnecessary rejections due to conflicting opinions. So let’s clear that confusion up because if you’ve ever sat on a co-op board and turned down an owner or have been turned down yourself due to the board rejecting your application – you understand how crummy that can feel. 

By law, this is not illegal, and anyone can sell regardless of co-op board member status. Great news for you if you’re looking to do both! But don’t be discouraged if you’re given the stink-eye by some of your fellow board members as this is typically frowned upon. Many co-op board members will feel you're taking advantage of your board member status. After all, this will give you an edge on choosing the candidate who you want to sell too.

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How Can You Stay On The Fine Line While Keeping Ethical?

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Make sure you follow the honor system. Do onto others as you want done to you. That means, don’t favor or reject someone else’s application because you may be biased in any way. Also, don’t secretly take screenshots or grab applications from the pile for other properties in the same building and then contact and try to sell yours to those applicants directly - yes we've seen this happen. With over thirty years experience in property management, All Area Realty Services has provided guidance when a co-op board is faced with uncertainty or challenges. 

Another easy way to stay ethical is to hire someone that is an expert in residential property management services or a real estate management firm to sell your property as your agent. This takes you out of the equation and eliminates the intentional of unintentional actions of doing anything unethical. It also keeps the tension down between all board members at meetings as your actions, or integrity will not come into question. 

All Area is New York City’s leading real estate management company specializing in full-service property management for cooperative and condominium boards in the Manhattan area.

 

 

Topics: Co-Op Board, Selling a Co-Op

Do’s and Don’ts of Selling a NYC Co-op

Posted by All Area Realty Services Team on Apr 17, 2018 1:08:30 PM

Now that spring and summer are right around the corner, it’s about to be every sellers dream. Spring and summer are popular selling months for those interested in putting their property on the market.

If you’re thinking of putting your co-op in NYC up for sale, there’s a few things you should know. Today, we're going to outline some of the basic do’s and don’ts of selling a NYC co-op.

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Do

  • Contact the real estate firm the co-op board has a relationship with to verify sale steps needed.
  • Listen to a seasoned real estate professional on their price recommendations. This is where people often get into trouble because they have unrealistic selling price expectations. Remember, you hire them because they know the area, market, and price per square foot. They won’t recommend a price that does not align with the current trends; listen to their expertise.
  • In addition to point two, any offer that comes in is a potential buyer. If the buyer has offered a number less than you expected, counter the offer. Remember that people are not making offers on properties they don’t love. Use this to your advantage by keeping within a sale price you feel comfortable with.
  • If it’s been some time since you purchased the co-op you are selling, you may forget that the process of closing after an offer is made is roughly 90-days. Plan for this in advance so you are not stressed. Your real estate agent will coordinate with you during the entire process but do take this into consideration if you’re purchasing another property.

Don’t

  • Accept an offer without the boards pre-approval. Remember your co-op board is the ultimate decision maker. Do your due-diligence and get the application approved before you accept.
  • While every state has different laws based on deals, in NYC a deal is only official when signed. That means you can continue showing your apartment to other potential buyers and is a great way to ensure if the first offer backs out, you have a fallback plan.
  • Don’t forget to look over and review the potential buyers application. Did they submit everything needed? Was their math wrong? Did they include references? Complete applications will be reviewed by the board. If you notice something is missing or math is incorrect, speak with your real estate management team to get the errors corrected.

Selling is an exciting time for many. It closes one chapter and opens the next chapter of life. Enjoy the selling process and remember to listen to your gut throughout the process. 

All Area is New York City’s leading real estate management company specializing in full-service property management for cooperative and condominium boards in the Manhattan area.

 

Topics: Selling a Co-Op

A History Lesson: The Evolution Of A Co-Op

Posted by All Area Realty Services Team on Apr 12, 2018 2:12:53 PM

While co-op buildings have not been around forever, they have been around since 1720, when the first co-op was created in France. In the US, New York was the first city to form a co-op in 1876. Cooperative housing was originally created by the wealthy who wanted advantages of owning their homes, but with fewer of responsibilities that come with home ownership.

Back when cooperative housing was established, it wasn’t called a co-op and they didn’t hire property management companies, like All Area Realty Services, to handle the day-to-day management of things. Instead, the wealthy pooled their resources together and called it a "house club". Of course clubs in those days were just another way to differentiate the wealthy from the poor. Fast forward to the 1950’s and the Federation of New York Housing Cooperatives was formed.

iStock-484621126 (1)In the 1980’s many banks were lending money for tenants wishing to purchase a co-op. Unfortunately, this proved to kick the banks right in the back-side as soon as 1987 and the depression hit. At this time, many sponsors decided they should start renting their properties because it was hard to sell. Renting allowed the sponsors to keep paying their monthly mortgage without defaulting. As long as the demand for rentals and the rental prices per month stayed high, this was a win-win.

Speed ahead to today and co-ops are less popular. Many realized that there were some disadvantages with having this type of property and wished to only have condos. As condo demand was heightened, a movement to convert cooperative corporations into condominiums passed. Nowadays, many properties are rentals even within cooperative buildings and the co-op hires a professional property management company to handle the daily management of everything that encompasses the building. In the end, cooperatives are nice for those who do not want to deal with a home problem alone such as a leak. When leaks happen, it’s viewed as everyone’s problem and not only one homeowner's problem.

All Area is New York City’s leading real estate management company specializing in full-service property management for cooperative and condominium boards in the Manhattan area.

 

 

 

Topics: Co-Op Building

Illegal Questions: What Can't A Co-Op Board Ask?

Posted by All Area Realty Services Team on Apr 5, 2018 1:21:20 PM

When you apply for a job, you are often interviewed by the HR or hiring manager for that position. The same is true with a co-op application. In a co-op building there is a co-op board that will interview you for the property you are interested in purchasing. That co-op board, much like an HR person has regulations and laws they must abide by.

In most cases, the co-op board members will be familiar with the laws and regulations for the interview process. Occasionally, you may encounter a board member who slurs verbal vomit and forgets there are laws pertaining to the questions asked. When this happens, it is important that you know what is legal and not legal. General rule of thumb – if they can’t ask it during a job interview, they can’t ask it in a co-op interview.

iStock-843534164Illegal Topics of Discussion:

  • Age
  • Marital Status
  • Race
  • Color
  • Religion
  • National Origin
  • Citizenship/Green-card/Visa/Alienage
  • Sexual Orientation
  • Military Status
  • Disability
  • Occupation Choice

If any of these topics are brought up by the board, remember you have the right to omit an answer. If you are uncomfortable or feel you’ve been treated unfairly, speak with your real estate agent  regarding the situation. 

Examples of Questions a Co-Op Board Shouldn't Ask:

  • “Where are you from originally?” 
  • “Do you cook a lot of ethnic food, or food from your culture?”   
  •  “Will you be requiring any extra assistance from the building staff?”  (in reference to a disability)
  • “Do you plan to have kids?” or “Do you plan to have more kids?” 
  • To a single buyer: “Do you plan on having many guests?  Will you have overnight guests often? Will you be giving a key to anyone?”

If your interview has a few awkward moments due to invasive and/or illegal questions, your real estate agent may discuss this with the co-op board and get you a second interview where everyone can perhaps start with a clean slate. Your agent could smooth things over, but if not, your agent may recommend a new property all together. If this is the only property you were interested in, consider keeping your options open. Not all interviews mean you are going to get accepted. This is simply the last step of the application process. So even if things are clarified and a second interview goes well, you still may not be accepted. 

If you are a co-op board member and are looking for a good property management company to help you manage your building, contact All Area Realty Services. We'd love to hear from you. And please subscribe to this blog for more useful information and tips to help co-op boards. 

All Area Realty Services is New York City’s leading real estate management company specializing in full-service property management for cooperative and condominium boards in the Manhattan area.

Topics: Co-Op Board, Buying a Co-Op