Do You Know Who I Am?
The Indignity of the Board Package
It’s hard to imagine a scenario in which you would allow ten to twelve strangers to review the intimate details of your personal and financial life. But that’s exactly what happens when a purchaser submits a co-op Board package for review.
An Unexpected Life Lesson
Many years ago, the manager of Lee Lighting, a high-end interior design store on the east side, related a wonderful story. While he was waiting on a customer, a well known and easily recognizable celebrity came in who expected immediate attention. When attention was not given, the person interrupted the ongoing conversation. The manager stopped her and said, “I’ll be with you in a minute.” A few minutes later, the same interruption and the same response. Finally, the frustrated celebrity could take it no longer and interrupted once again: “Excuse me, do you know who I am?” Without missing a beat, the manager responded with a feigned store announcement: “Attention customers, could you help, there is someone here who doesn’t know who she is…”
When Who You Are Doesn’t Matter
Yes, there are well connected individuals and sympathetic Boards where exceptions are made and special treatment is afforded to the co-op applicants. When that happens, it’s the anomaly and not the ordinary course of business. The co-op application process is the ultimate airport screening device where the purchaser lets it all hang out for all to see. There’s no negotiation over deliverables and it’s a golden opportunity for the powerless (that is, the folks processing the application at the managing agent) to have jurisdiction over the powerful. It is part and parcel of the fabric of New York City and it will never change.
As I learned recently, no matter how hard you try to explain the Byzantine quality of the Board package process and the attendant anxieties that always arise therewith, it is difficult for the uninitiated to appreciate the degree of absurdity and complexity that can arise during the experience. All involved should bear that disconnect in mind once the offer is accepted...
For more on this, see "How to Avoid a Board Turn Down".