As any co-op or condo board member knows, serving on the board carries with it a responsibility to fellow residents and shareholders to make decisions in the best interest of the building. They don't leave their role as board members at the door after a meeting, and this can present a problem if neighbors pick inappropriate times to discuss building matters. Board members can end up devoting a great deal of their personal time to the position, essentially working for free. At the same time, protecting one's investment firsthand can be a rewarding experience for some. Maintaining a careful balance between the positive and negative aspects, and working in the interest of the co-op or condo is a key component of being an effective board member.
When Your Time Becomes Theirs
"It really depends on the building. I basically found that with the building that I owned in, which was a 10-unit, self managed co-op, any problems were handled basically by me," says Gene Keyser, who served as a member and as president of his Brooklyn co-op's board.
"During emergencies, it cut into work and personal time. About 30 to 40 percent of my personal time was devoted to waiting for contractors, interviewing contractors or meeting with other board members," says Keyser, who was the board president for four years, and currently remains a consultant to the board. "It was like having a job."
For Bob Friedrich, president of Glen Oaks Village in Queens, being president of the board means he deals with issues facing the largest garden apartment co-op in New York City. The community has 134 two- and three-story buildings with 3,000 units, approximately 10,000 residents, and an annual budget of $23 million.
"I devote a minimum of 40 hours per week to [board duties], more than my paying job," says Friedrich, who has been president for 10 years and on the board for 15 years. An accountant by trade, Friedrich is glad to have both the ability and time to devote to his various responsibilities.