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Saturday, January 30, 2010

Coop application foiled by Facebook page

Coop application foiled by Facebook page I heard a story about a coop Board turn down last week, when I went out with a customer to look at some Greenwich Village apartments. We dropped by to see a "Gold Coast" property off Fifth Avenue near Washington Square Park, which had just come back on the market. It was a lovely place, in a converted townhouse, with just five units in the building. As we were about to leave, I asked the listing agent why the apartment had come back on the market. It could be for any number of reasons like the buyer exercising a mortgage contingency, or an inspection problem — both of which seemed unlikely by the condition of the building, and the fact that the co-op required a 50% down-payment, which most banks would see as a low risk, loan to value ratio on lending. It turns out that the prospective buyers were the parents of the person whom would be the occupant/tenant of the apartment. The Board's due diligence process included online research of the tenant. It revealed a 'Facebook' page for the potential occupant which included pictures that raised an eyebrow with some the Board members. While I'm not privy to knowing exactly what the problem was, it seems reasonable that some owners became worried about loud parties and late night noise. It projected a questionable image, and the Coop Board turned down the application.

Fair? Its hard to say. Sometimes a picture is worth a thousand words. Sometimes pictures lie. But the secret to passing a Board's scrutiny is to appear completely uncontroversial. It's a simple lesson, in today's wired world of social networks, potential buyers and their agents, need to review the online presence of the applicants, and edit where needed. As an agent, I go through a very exacting process in preparing financial data and references for Board packages; guiding customers through the coop approval process. That can all be undone today by a few badly considered photos from a New Years party.