Co-op boards should learn how to save a tree

Flickr photo by dlancquaert

A client of mine is putting the finishing touches on his board application for a co-op in Manhattan’s Chelsea neighborhood. The package is more involved than most in that it asks not only for his loan application and loan commitment letter but also the appraisal ordered by his banker.

Moreover, since the father of my client (who is just out of graduate school and about to start his first permanent job) is co-signing the mortgage loan, the application also requires yet another set of financial information and supporting documents.

That makes one big package, but I am not tearing our my hair at this point, Continue reading

In a co-op board interview, you can skate around the way your dog surely will snap at. . . children

Flickr photo by Revolt! Puppy

BrickUnderground recently asked me to list how to answer tricky questions during a co-op board interview.  Examples:

The board asks you to describe the dog you adopted from a shelter years ago, a snappish Chow mix Continue reading

Biggest impact of 80-20 rule change yet to be felt

After literally decades of campaigning by the Council of New York Cooperatives and Condominiums, as well as others, a limitation on the amount of money that a co-op building can collect in rent from commercial (technically, patronage) operations was changed in December 2007 starting that tax year.

The impact of what was an expanded definition of “cooperative” has yet to be fully realized, though there are isolated instances of occasionally enormous benefits.

Until it was changed, the so-called 80-20 rule prevented cooperatives from enjoying a tax deduction for their expenditures on property taxes and mortgage interest if their income from retail stores, garages and such exceeded their operating budgets by 20 percent.

As a result, many commercial tenants were paying a pittance in rent, including nothing in the case of a few nonprofits such as, say, thrift shops.

With a new, more comprehensive definition of “cooperative” in the revised IRS rule, buildings now can permit the budgetary contribution of commercial rent to go over 20 percent.  Continue reading

There is nothing like a closing. Thankfully.

The truth is I hate closings, which are as ritualized as a religious service.

They never start on time. A key individual always is late. The amount of paperwork is oppressive, and the time taken for lawyerly explanations and writing signatures drags as slowly as a dial-up connection.

Photo by Orin Zebest

What brings up this topic is the closing I attended yesterday. I always go to see a transaction through to its conclusion and provide whatever comfort I can to invariably anxious clients.

Along with the buyer, whom I was not representing, I arrived 10 minutes early. The two of us sat in a downtown law office’s reception room with only five seats for the nine of us and anyone else who had business with the firm.

The buyer and I chatted while the other participants straggled in, wet as they were from the wind-whipped snow.

Finally, we were admitted into a conference room and took seats. Continue reading