When Co-Op Interviews Get Invasive It's the Arduous Part of the Screening Process for Buyers

Boards do occasionally overstep during the interview process (iStock).

Interviews of all stripes are notoriously nerve-wracking for those being placed under scrutiny. Even mundane details about one's hobbies and interests can seem like daunting reveals when confronted by a stranger in an uncomfortable setting. Co-ops – with the potential for a new home in a new community – are certainly no exception.

Last February, DNAinfo reports that in the last quarter of 2016, would-be first-time buyers were so “turned off by the arduous co-op application process” that both sales and prices fell. And although the dip is described as “circumstantial,” as these prices are expected to return to their original strength, it seems evident that interviews can genuinely put a scare into folks.

Sometimes this trepidation is unwarranted, as the process reveals itself harmless, but, occasionally, the applicant has good reason to worry. Boards do occasionally overstep their bounds in ways both frowned upon and illegal, asking personal questions or making financial inquiries that are beyond the pale.

The Root of the Problem

As it goes with many things, co-op interviews that break bad often do so thanks to money. Finances are obviously important when making a major purchase of this nature, but buyers are right to want to only disclose as much information as is strictly necessary, and can – and should – get unnerved if a board presses too hard.

“Once, the daughter of an extremely prosperous family with a well-known name was looking to buy into a nice, but otherwise modest ten-apartment co-op in the Village,” relates attorney Matthew J. Leeds, a partner with Ganfer & Shore, LLP, in Manhattan. “The board said that it was fine that the young woman's financial strength was in family holdings, and an accountant offered to certify a balance sheet and even to show one or two cash or brokerage accounts that had deposits well in excess of what it supposed would be desirable in such a building.”

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