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Passing the Co-op Interview: A manual for the co-op approval process Kindle Edition
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A few parts of the books are based on content on fromthestop.com. It's expanded upon and made more cohesive though. And honestly, just having all the information collocated and readable in an hour or less is worth $5. And as near as I can tell, the book does go well beyond the website.
The advice was great and covered how to fill in the application, prepare for the interview and come across well. It included a description of what the interviewers are looking for. I would have liked to see a sample Q&A. I particularly liked the advice of "never ask questions" at the interview. Jim says this advice is considered controversial. Maybe, but I agree with him that you shouldn't ask questions. Either your question is a showstopper for moving in - in which case the time to ask was a long time before the interview - or your question can wait - in which case you can ask after closing. I asked all my questions to the doorman and managing agent before I even looked at the co-op apartment.
There were two pieces of advice in the book that I disagreed with:
1) "your broker should be able to find out if the co-op board has recently rejected any potential applications and why" - good luck with that. Co-op boards do not have to provide the reason for rejection to anyone. Even in the rejection section later in the book, Jim writes "the board is probably not going to provide you with a satisfactory explanation ... by law they don't have to"
2) Jim recommends typing your application. No problems there. But then he suggests retyping the application in Word if you aren't provided with a digital copy. I would NOT do this. The application is in a certain format. That is what the Board is used to seeing. Changing that in any way invites extra inspection/suspicion. Just write clearly if you can't type - which is suggested.
Many things about the co-op application process are subjective. The fact that I only disagree with two minor things is a good sign.
Since I know of only one other book on co-ops (The New York Co-op Bible), I'm going to compare the two. The Co-op Bible is a full length book including a large part on co-op living. I also gave it four stars, but you can't compare the two books. Jim's book is meant to have a very specific focus. It also costs a lot less reflecting the smaller scope. The Co-op Bible was written by a lawyer and co-op president. This book is written by a real estate agent. The difference in tone is apparent. My biggest dislike of The Co-op Bible was the overly dramatic tone and combative stance. By contrast this book is more of a coach talking to you. He wants you to succeed. The Board wasn't to be careful and acts in a reasonable way. I really like the tone of this book and find it to be much closer to reality.
Ultimately this was a good book. I really wanted to give it four and a half stars. I ultimately rounded down because of the two points I disagreed with. Which are enumerated here so shouldn't be a problem for you. And did I mention the book only costs five dollars?
Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for writing this review.
Jim's guidance is generous, light-hearted, and practical. He even provides an appendix with a sample application, including a variety of reference letters, which I found very useful. I highly recommend reading this gem of a book as you begin to shop for a co-op. And now that I'm in a co-op, I count Jim's book as a must-have resource for our board because it offers perspective and simple ways to improve our process (which is a win-win scenario).
As a veteran of co-op life (over 40 years in NYC), including several years as a board member and chair, I am convinced that for all its rules and regulations the cooperative form of apartment living has many valuable advantages, not least of which is the assurance of attentive management and stability of residency. This too comes across in the Winters manual. Most important, one can appreciate how comforting -- not to mention useful -- it will be to first time co-op buyers.