Getting to Know You Welcoming New Co-op and Condo Residents

The days of neighbors bringing casserole dishes to the door may be over, but welcoming new co-op and condo residents into the buildings they now call home is not an entirely lost art. In fact, it goes on every day in buildings throughout the city.

From guidebooks that provide new residents with "Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Your Co-op or Condo But Were Afraid to Ask" to bottles of chilled champagne, today's welcome wagon takes multiple forms. The extent to which new homeowners are greeted, however, depends on a number of things, from building size to community tradition. Sometimes it just boils down to individual tastes and preferences. "In New York, you can't force people," says Jane E. Goldberg, vice president and associate broker at William B. May. "If [new residents] are quiet, that's fine. If they want to meet other people, that's fine, too."

There's no single procedure or method universally suggested for welcoming residents into their new building's fold, and there's no one person who automatically takes up the task. Sometimes a broker will offer a friendly welcome. Other times, it'll be the managing agent. And sometimes, it'll just be that friendly neighbor from down the hall. One thing is clear, however; the point is not how a new arrival is welcomed, but that the effort is made.

Just the Facts When the papers have all been signed, most managing agents will give new residents a very basic orientation package, detailing all the do's and don'ts of the building along with a listing of staff names, board members, and committees. This streamlined approach works well, says Richard Kalikow, owner of Max Capital Management. "In Manhattan, everyone wants their privacy," he says. "They don't want to be nurtured. People come in and meet over time. And if they have any questions, they can call us."

Manhattan's AKAM Associates, Inc., offers individualized welcome packages in the form of an informational handbook for each of their client properties. The packages include reference information about the services AKAM provides to the property, contact information for AKAM and the building itself, as well as critical after-hours and emergency phone numbers and contact procedures. The package also includes specific information about the property and how it's governed; house rules, policies, procedures and tenancy guidelines.

AKAM created the packages because, according to company president Michael Berenson, "We felt there were many questions that new residents might have, and we wanted them to get better acquainted quickly." Although some of the older buildings managed by AKAM do not take part, the management company offers the package to any building that wants it.


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