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Assessment for Bldg. Improvements - Anonymous Apr 10, 2007


I sit on the board of my Bldg. and we just passed an assessment to the shareholders that have caused quite a stir. I happen t agree with the shareholders but do not want to tell the board this.

Th cost is too high and the approach was wrong.
The job should be done on a lower scale and in phases. How do I get theother members of the board to change things before the assessments begin?


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You should speak up and not let the board dictate how shreholders are to spend their money


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How many members does your board have? How many minutes, hours and facts did you gather to arrive to the assessment, the size of the assessment and the way the job is to be accomplished?

Obviously, a board should have carefully considered all the angles of the problem to be resolved and what is the impact of the assessment on the general shareholder population. In fact, board members may be also exclaiming Ouch!, but may have more facts on hand.

Unfortunately, shareholders have opinions and plenty of Ouch!, but may not know the full implications of the need for assessing.

What do you need? Articulate the need for the assessment and why the board has considered the assessment and the way the work will be done as the best solution to the problem.

Good luck!

AdC


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> Join the conversation Comments (1)


thabk you for the response. many shareholders in the bldg have approached me with these very same questions. the shhldrs have also submitted a petition to call for an open mtg prior to the first assessment in May. Are they entitled to know all of this? I would think so

They are also asking if they make the first payment of the year long assessment(maybe more)does that make them liable for the rest. On the flip side they want to know what the repercussios are for not paying and placing the money in escrow until sorted out.

your thoughts.....


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First, read or review your By-Laws regarding the power of the board to fix the budget and any additional amounts required to cover repairs, etc....Obviously, there is a need to refer to your documents so that people understand that the power of the board.

Second, a board out of courtesy should be upfront with shareholders. An open shareholders meeting helps dissipate any problems with perceptions. The board should put the cards on the table relating to the decision and shareholders, no matter how much lamentation and grinding of teeth they may do, will have to accept the decision. After all, shareholders elected them to do the HARDBALL decision.

Putting your assessment in ESCROW is a NO!!! Read your documents and find out if there is such an animal available in your case.

Again, BOARD members (who work for the advacement of the co-op) are elected for the purpose of breaking their heads in good faith to advance the business of the co-op by taking the required decisions, no matter how unpleasant or umpopular they may be. Shareholders have an obligation to question and find out understand the decision Also, they have the right to vote for the right board members and nominate themselves if they feel they have the character to make decisions that may not always be applauded.

Finally, a board that communicates and overcommunicates will get their point accross even when they know their decision may be unpopular. An open shareholders meeting is logical and good for the co-op when decisions that affect the lives of shareholders are on the table.

AdC


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I am the President of my board and although the board most probably can do what they want, if they are not polling the shareholders concerns and being prudent with the cost associated with the job, this should be raised by a shareholder as a representative of the non-board members then


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> Join the conversation Comments (2)


This is nonsense! But take it personally, but the main thing as a board member is to know what your responsibilities and obligations are as a director.

So, you assess because you have a fiduciary responsibility to (1) keep the co-op above water (2) keep the property in good repairs.

Now... part of the equation is to communicate. If boards do not communicate you raise the suspicious flag. So, present the issues as they are. If you are not elected again, SO WHAT!!! You took care of your responsibility.

A problem wih many boards is not knowing how to state regularly what is happening and the challenges that the board faces. Part of the problem is BLOWING YOUR OWN HORN and prepare the way for incrases, assessments and any measures that require tough decisions.

AdC


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This is nonsense! But DON'T take it personally, but the main thing as a board member is to know what your responsibilities and obligations are as a director.

So, you assess because you have a fiduciary responsibility to (1) keep the co-op above water (2) keep the property in good repairs.

Now... part of the equation is to communicate. If boards do not communicate you raise the suspicious flag. So, present the issues as they are. If you are not elected again, SO WHAT!!! You took care of your responsibility.

A problem wih many boards is not knowing how to state regularly what is happening and the challenges that the board faces. Part of the problem is BLOWING YOUR OWN HORN and prepare the way for incrases, assessments and any measures that require tough decisions.

AdC




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>>"You should speak up and not let the board dictate how shreholders (sic) are to spend their money."<<

This misconception is one of the toughest parts of being a board member: the idea that owners somehow don't have to pay for the maintenance and upkeep of their own property!

On the contrary, the reason a board exists is to determine just how shareholders' money will be spent to keep their investment safe, in good condition, and in a state to increase in value.

The board does not "dictate," Anonymous, it makes decisions on behalf of shareholders -- the very same shareholders who elected them. If you don't want others to decide how to maintain the property you share with them, either get a seat on the board or sell and buy a house.

Finally, remember that board members are shareholders too -- they are subject to the same assessments as everyone else.


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If you, as a Board Member, act outside that venue with your concerns -- i.e., as an "agitator" siding with other Shareholders -- you will end up alienating the other members of the Board, and could possibly split the whole co-op.

Do you really want to live in such a poisonous environment? If not, I strongly suggest you make your best case TO THE BOARD for handling the assessment differently -- and, if you cannot, that you resist supporting efforts to subvert the Board's decision. As a Board Member, your responsibility is to the health and safety of the co-op as a whole. If you cannot convince the Board of your logic, try discussing with the individual members their reasons for supporting the assessment; they may change your mind and/or help you better understand and support the Board's point of view.

Alternately, you could try to help the Board find a point of compromise between its position and that of Shareholders who are not on the Board (just keep in mind, such Shareholders have not been privy to ALL of the facts, and to the Board's deliberations, and therefore will not have completely informed opinions).

But I urge you not to foment a "palace revolution" -- that will only have really bad consequences, and it could take your co-op years to recover. Work towards consensus, always.


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inappropriate fees - frustrated Apr 10, 2007


Thank you all for this good guidance.

We did everything suggested here: wrote the letters, sent digital photos, demanded (to no avail) the plumbers' report, requested mediation (but received no response), stated we would take legal action and finally consulted an attorney.

Our conclusions to date:

-We can't force the board remove the charge without taking the coop to court. Court & attorney fees would likely far outstrip the sum in question.

--We were advised, alternatively, to either file a claim with our homeowners' insurance, or to pay the charge and to try to recoup the funds in small claims court. In the latter case, we're afraid we'll find ourself unevenly matched, against the corporation's attorney.

Certainly seems to suggest a need for "abusive board" legislation.

Further suggestions very welcome!




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mediation - firtinella Apr 10, 2007


You were right, all. The board refused. Looks like we're headed to court.

Thanks, anyway, for your good advice.


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Do you use specialized attorneys? - Fred Apr 07, 2007


We have an attorney that can handle pretty much anything, but we're doing some construction work and our board wants to engage a different attorney just to review the contracts of the engineer and construction company. Our attorney says reviewing the contracts is not a problem for him. Do we really need someone who specializes in construction just to read these contracts? Or is it better to stick with the attorney with whom we already have a relationship?


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We have a house attorney who handles closings, letters to shareholders, modest legal research, those in arrears (admittedly this is a partly sum as typically we are but $6,000 in arrears in a 500 unit high rise), ongoing contract renewals.

For some forms of litigation, e.g.: another building, next door, we employ another attorney, the municipality, etc.

For labor issues, e.g.: a new union or new union contract, we employ a labor attorney versed in NLRB activities and laws.

For capital improvement contracts we use an attorney, who himself, is a trained engineer.




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sponsor or investor - Jack Apr 06, 2007


The unsold shares in our building were sold this year.
Is the new owner a "sponsor" or "investor" If an investor
do they have the same rights as the original sponsor. I.E.
voting for officers of the board at election.

What rights does he have? He has no input in the building and gives no help to the hard working board who have their day jobs too. How can we insist on some help from them?


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Jack - Our proprietary lease (para 38) says "unsold shares" for an apt cease to retain their character as such if:
1) someone buys them and he (or a family member) lives in the apt, or 2) the sponsor/original holder(or a family member) lives in the apt himself.

The new owner becomes a regular "shareholder". He doesn't have any more/less rights than the others do, and you can't force him to help the board. If he wants to help the board, he has to be elected to the board, or on a committee that reports to the board, if you have committees.

If someone buys "unsold shares" and DOES NOT live in the apt, only rents it for investment purposes, that's another, more complicated matter.

Also - whoever is the holder of shares is the one who has the right to vote for a board or on any issues. By the way, in most coops, if shares are sold (by anyone), the buyer isn't necessarily the one who can vote at the coop's annual meeting. Whoever holds the shares when the meeting notice is received is the one who can vote. For ex: If the notice is received May 20, a closing is June 10 and the meeting is June 15, the seller votes the shares. The buyer can attend the meeting but can't vote.

In any case, consult your attorney on all these matters. He should check your proprietary lease and other governing documents for what applies to your coop.


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Ask your attorney who should have at least told the board about the sale and given you some idea of the new buyer, and whether the old sponsor still is financially responsible if there is a default of the investor.

Similarly, you should get more particulars of the sale by way of a new amendment to the plan.

Finally, if your old sponsor had a representation on the board, the new one will probably retain participation. Whether the sponsor participates or not through a representative (management company or directly through a representative), it is a blessing or no blessing. The sponsor or investor will participate if it owns a large block of shares of the building and wishes to have a say on financial issues such as maintenance, capital investment, refinancing, etc.

I would rather have the sponsor or representative participate as you may be able to work closely on tenants issues, and obtain opinions or advise on conractors, service providers and professionals. Obviously, you need to know why the sponsor representative is there for, but again, if you make the person feel you are willing to work with him/her, you may be able to get more out of the relationship than maintaining an adversarial relationship. In fact, if you have a good board and the sponsor is part of it, you may end of builidng a formidable team that may help advance the business of the corporation more than you ever imagined.

AdC


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Super vs. Resident Manager - V Apr 06, 2007


What are the differences in a super and a resident manager in terms of duties, expertise, licenses? Is the super supposed to be more skilled in electrical, plumbing, painting plastering and general repairs?


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simply put, the major two differences is that a
1/ superintendent is more hands on and has a small staff. A resident manager (RMs) has more staff and less hands on. RMs have more supervisory and administration duties then supers. Both superintendents and RMs need to have the same licenses, permits and Certificate of fitness for buildings with identical systems.
2/RMs tend to earn more in salary and both can be union or not.

As for plastering and painting etc. Some superintendent do that work, some don't.
Both RMs and superintendents need the same skills in general repairs and system operations and maintenance. Just that superintendents perform some or most of that work, while RMs see to it that it gets done.
peterG.


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Thanks!


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Pgrech is pretty much on the money on this one. If I may add the following. A lot of superintendents go on to become RM ( by gaining experience on the job and also through education courses and classes). As Pgrech mentioned there is a lot more administative work which tends to take the pressure off the manageing agent,as well.Examples are coordinating construction/renovation projects, coordinating work schedules, move in/out, dealing with vendors,making sure that you have the correct paperwork when dealing with contractors(insurance certs, licenses).Dealing with staff and shareholder issues. There also tends to be a little bit more interaction with the board, attending board meetings etc. Haveing said all of the above, in the event of an emergency, the RM most roll up his/her sleeves and address the situation (even if it means getting your hands dirty) Finally most RM work clothing will be either suit and tie or polo shirt etc.




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He calls himself the resident manager but dresses in a uniform like a super. He delegates work like an RM but every holiday season he is listed as the superintendent. He does some administrative work and he makes a good salary. He has his licenses but can't do plumbing or electrical work. But he has a small staff. Hence my confusion. What is he?

Would co-ops save money by hiring supers rather than resident managers?


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> Join the conversation Comments (2)


Good question V, now when you hired him was it as a Super or a RM? Do you have a handyman as well on staff? We did spell out the basic differences so you decide what you have. After all it is your building and you call the shots.

FN


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We have no handyman on staff, just the RM and the two porters. We are a new co-op. The RM came along with management who we also did not hire.


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V, see PGrechs? response. It is based on the number of employees/staff. I not sure if it makes too much of a difference what he likes to be referred as. I know RM that are called supers and vice versa. Secretarys are now know as office assistants and recently heard of a security guard being referred as a real estate monitor/guard.

FN.


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Actually Nikkie, the next generation of Resident Managers are already calling themselves "building managers".
How stupid are they especially if they are unionized. Which is why I always have maintained that we should be just called supers. Anything with the word manager in the title will endanger union status.
Pgrech


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Hmmm the super/Rm came with the Management company. Interesting. Make sure everything is double checked by the board. Super/Rm keep each other in check and balance. This may not be so. The word being MAY.
Pg


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Union defines resident manager as a super who has a staff of 7 or more (including the super in the 7). Thus once the union has made a RM contract for your building it wont change unless the staffing changes. So if you are non union then the title can change as you like. But then you may suffer the consequences of that change.


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Does the SEIU have a different classification (pay scale) for a Superintendent v. a Resident Manager ? In our coop, the Super has recently adopted the Resident Mgr title on his own. We refer to him as a Super, that is what we hired and he has a Super classification in his labor contract. If the Resident Manager title has a different payscale, I guess we would need to address that concern with the Super, as he manages a very small staff.


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Rick from what I understand there is a set salary in the union contract for supers. Having said that, many buildings with good supers may pay them additional bonuses if they are good so as not to loose them to other buildings e.g. monthly or holiday bonus. Normally Resident Managers will sit down and negotiate a salary before they are hired as they tend to have more experience.
Hope this helps.

FN.


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Actually Nice, There is NO SET PAY SCALE for supers or Rms. ONLY the pay increases are set, and which is a minimum amount per years. If you look at the "union book" you will find a pay scale for Handymen and Others (doormen, porters, etc.) but not for supers or Handymen. Also Supers union contract come to an end on April 20th while the RMs union contract comes to an end in June.
There are many RMs making less money then supers. But mostly RMs make more money. I did a survey a few years back and found the Most (which means not all) RMs make over $65.000 per year while Most (which means not all) Supers make up to $60,000 per year.
In actual reality there is no significant diffacere between super and resident manager in NYC. Out of NYC resident managers have almost a completely different role. How much does a super or RM make is based on historic salary for that building. This does not include Merit Pay. Good to outstanding supers and RMs make there own deals after that historic amount or (base amount). Outstanding RMs earn in excess of $110,000 per year and full union benefits while outstanding supers earn in excess of $70,000 per year. The difference is not how well the super/Rm can negotiate and what credentials he/she has to back up his/her worth. In most cases, size of building has nothing to do with how much a super/RM earns
Pgrech


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Hey, P not quiet sure I agree with your last statement on super v RM. I am of the opinion the larger the building/responsibility the more the super/RM should get paid (not always the case). Do you not think that a person that has a 400 hunded unit apt building with forty staff should get paid more than someone with eighty units and four staff.

FN (Happy Easter)


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I agree with you Nickie but in truth, I can give three examples of a super in biuldings with under 28 apartments each that earn over $70,000 and a few RMs with 400+, 600+ apartments earning between $65K to $70K. Its nuts. But some buildings Value their super/RM and others just dont care.
There does exist an in equity of value vs salary and Size verses salary.
All i was saying is in reality size dont count much when it comes to salaries. How good a super/RM is and can negotiate is.
Happy East mate.



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well V, while it is the function of a super or RM to run the building, it is certanly not his function to pick his title. Further more, in due respect, who runs the board? super, managing agent or the board themselves?
Becareful of titles, while most of the time they satisfy egos, when unions are involved they can end up more.


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I agree with both, Peter and Nickie, we all mostly share the same duties and responsibilties in running our buildings.


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> Join the conversation Comments (1)

We recently gave our building Super (union) a raise & his title is now Resident Manager, even though it’s a very small building (just 50 units).

He prefers to wear a suit & tie now, rather than a uniform, but has taken the liberty of sending his clothes to cleaner we use for the staff’s uniforms, thereby charging the building for cleaning his clothes (which he wears to other occasions, not just work).

My sense is that if he chooses not to wear a uniform, he is responsible for his own clothes.

Thoughts, please?

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important cap gains question - ba Apr 04, 2007


cant ask the accountant as we are in the process of getting a new one - but have a question -

if an assessment for a capital improvement project, such as a new roof, is dissolved by being rolled into a maintenance increase , then can we still realize it as part of the basis on sale of stock? (thereby reducing the tax on sale) - ?

or does it have to remain a seperate line item as an assessment?


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I believe someone offered you the answer previously: keep it as a separate from maintenance (even if collected with maintenance) so that the assessment earmarked for a capital investment is appropriately identified and segregated.

AdC


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HELP> someone who knows - please tell me. thanks


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ideally it is a seperate line-item but does it HAVE to be? that is my question - what are the ramifications when a board rols it into a mntnce increase (Please someone who knows the answer.. thanks!) adc - not you. sorry. please .


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...but the odds are good that money spent on a new roof can increase basis & reduce your cap gains tax, even if commingled rather than collected separately.

Whether or not an item is assessed does not factor into the definition of "capital improvement."

While it's better if assessments are kept discrete, what you actually spend funds on is more important than how things are labeled on your budget. It's customary to take stock at year-end of what capital improvements--even small ones--were made using funds on hand. [Condo owners should get a yearly report on same to update their own books.]

Focus on keeping good & complete records of the actual improvements made.


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What are the implications?

(1) Maintenances are based on routine expneses.
(2) CapEx is a variable expense based on the needs of your builidng based ideally on a schedule.

The most adverse impact of rolling maintenance and capex into one budget would be that maintenance will swing dramatically from year to year.

If your new roof will cost the co-oop $200,000, but next year the isntallation of the new boiler is $110,000, your maintenance will have to fluctuate dramatically to cover the requirements of the capex. Thus, it would be difficult for shareholders to sell an apartment whose maintenance depends on the capital improvements that are projected that year.

This is why operational expenses are separated from capital improvements. To provide a better balance between expected expenses and expenses that require planning, reserves, and other forms of financing.

If you were to look at any annual report or 10K of any publically traded company, capex is a separate table in your presentations and are not rolled into the income statements of the co-op.





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What are the implications?

(1) Maintenances are based on routine expenses.
(2) CapEx is a variable expense based on the needs of your builidng based ideally on a schedule.

The most adverse impact of rolling maintenance and capex into one budget would be that maintenance will swing dramatically from year to year.

If your new roof will cost the co-op $200,000, but next year the isntallation of the new boiler is $110,000, your maintenance will have to fluctuate dramatically to cover the requirements of the capex. Thus, it would be difficult for shareholders to sell their apartments whose maintenances depend on capital improvements that are projected that year.

This is why operational expenses are separated from capital improvements. To provide a better balance between expected expenses and expenses that require planning, reserves, and other forms of financing.

If you were to look at any annual report or 10K of any plublicly traded company, capex is a separate table in the presentations and are not rolled into the income statements of the corp.







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mntnce amounts - big al Apr 04, 2007


our maintenence is about 6.24 a share for an 86 unit pre-war on the upper west side. alot? too much?
we do not have a 24 hour doorman. we have no fancy amenities. this is aobut $120,000 a month. It seems high, no?


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Hard to say without more information. How big is your building's mortgage? Fuel costs? Other monthly expenses? Number of staff (full or part time)? Tax bill?


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staff is six people. full time. but not a 24 hour doorman - the night guy is a porter from 1:30-7:30.
tax is about 300k ish. fuel - dont know - maybe 50-60k. 12 story high building.
mortgage was refinanced last sumer with a 200k prepayment panalty. it was a 4.2 million loan with the 2.3 paid off - leaving 1.9 for a new roof and pointing.
maintenance increase of 12.75% in the last nine months. assesment of 50k in May 07.


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> How many square feet in your apartment, and how much is your monthly maintenance ($6.24 x # shares you own)?
> How many bathrooms in your apartment?
>Can you give me the square footage and monthly maintenance for another apt in your building with a different number of bedrooms and bathrooms?
> If you can do that, I'll give you a run-down on average costs. And if you're in Manhattan, and care to tell us which neighborhood, I'll give you the average cost for bulidings around you (not a scientific absolute, just my calculations from public info).

steve w


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Hi steve

we have aprox 1650 sq feet with three bathrooms (2 of them, tiny. 324 shares. the building has aprox 121,313 sq feet of residential space (according to property shark) with 19,760 shares .
thanks


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Hi, BA,

Thanks for your info -- just what I was looking for.

Let me discuss your original question first: Is $6.40 per share too high for a maintenance fee? It's impossible to give an answer to that question. Many people assume that one share in your building is equal to one share in my building, and equal to one share in every other co-op in the five boroughs.

It's not. Thanks to the wisdom of the lawyers who draw up co-op papers and the staff of the attorney general's office, which blesses those papers, the number of shares in a co-op corporation is arbitrary. For example, your 86-unit co-op has 19,760 shares. My co-op has 43 units and about 26,000 shares. So you can see that the price per share cannot be used for comparisons among co-ops.

So how do we measure one to another?

The way I do it -- and I'm no statistician, just a board treasurer who got tired of the complaints about our maintenance fee being "the highest in Manhattan" -- is to look at the monthly maintenance paid (in dollars -- NOT in shares) and divide it by the size of the apartment (in square feet). So, for example, if Alex pays $1200 a month in maintenance for an apartment that's 900 square feet, she's paying $1.50 per square foot.

1200 / 900 = 1.5

The weakness of this comparison is that it does not take into account tangibles (doorman or not, health club or not, basement apt vs penthouse) or intangibles (grand or dingy lobby, pre-war or modern, how recent the renovation, "fixer-upper" vs "move in tomorrow"). The strength is that it's quick and easy, especially because figuring out which building has which amenities is a challenge.

I decided to find out the average maintenance price in Manhattan co-ops by neighborhood. My source is a feature in the Sunday Real Estate section of The New York Times. If you're familiar with the paper, you've seen the "Sales Across the Region" grid. The top row always shows Manhattan sales. For 24 months (October 17, 2004, through October 15, 2006) I recorded every Manhattan co-op sale (not cond-op or anything else) by area (square footage), monthly maintenance, and neighborhood.

Here are the results. They include only those neighborhoods with at least five sales during that period in The Times. From most expensive co-op neighborhood to least, by square feet:

Midtown East: $1.42 per square foot
Murray Hill $1.40
Upper East Side: $1.36
Midtown West: $1.33
Chelsea: $1.25
Greenwich Village: $1.17
Grammercy Park: $1.07
East Village: $1.07 (tie)
Upper West Side*: $0.98
SoHo: $0.97
TriBeCa: $0.87
Hudson Heights: $0.86
Morningside Heights: $0.86 (tie)
Hamilton Heights: $0.75
Inwood: $0.73
Washington Heights: $0.70
Harlem: $0.51

*I include "West Side" sales with "Upper West Side."

So to answer your question (finally!), is your maintenance too high? Let's take a look.

You own 324 shares at $6.24 per share. That's $2022 monthly maintenance (rounded up). Your apartment's size is 1650 square feet.

2022 / 1650 = $1.225 (call it $1.23) per square foot

You live on the Upper West Side, where the average monthly maintenance is about 98 cents per square foot. So it's quite a bit higher than the average for your neighborhood.

But before you boil over, let's look at your entire building. It has 19,760 shares at $6.24 each, for a total monthly rent roll (that's the legal term, since in a co-op we rent from the corporation) of $123,302.40. You point out that according to Property Shark, the total residential area in the building is 121,313 square feet.

123,302.40 / 121,313 = $1.016 (call it $1.02) per square foot

That's four cents per square foot above your neighborhood average. (Or, to be more precise, 3.6 cents above.) So I would say that your building is neither too high nor too low, but basically spot-on.

Unfortunately for you, you live an apartment that has disproportionately more shares than your building's average. That mean's there's some lucky shareholder in your building who has many fewer shares! How are shares allocated? That's another story -- but in short, it's arbitrary, based on such things as the view, the number of bathrooms and bedroom, and so forth.

(Let me add that in the case of my figure for the UWS average, it's based on 57 sales. The most expensive I found on the UWS and West Side was $1.70 per square foot. I don't write down the addresses, but if you're curious look in The Times of Feb. 12, 2006. The least expensive was 57 cents, in The Times of one week earlier.)

If hope you find this useful. It sure taught me a lot about maintenance fees in the city.

In case you're wondering, I discovered that my building does not, as one shareholder put it, have the most expensive fee in Manhattan. It's 88 cents per square foot, which puts us in the middle third, in between SoHo and TriBeCa.

Cheers!
steve w


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Steve - this is brilliant! THANK YOU. one thing: how reliable is Property Shark for such info? It may not be a correct figure.


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Thanks, BigAl! I'm glad you appreciate it. Everyone thinks her maintenance fees are the highest in town -- an urban myth that lives on because it's so tough to compare.

As for Property Shark, I have no idea how accurate it is.

My own building is listed there at something like $4 million, which is far less than the value of all the apartments in it. Granted, that's different from the value of the building.

I don't know how much it would cost to build a seven-story brick building with an interior courtyard, tile on all the public floors and plantings, but I'll bet it's more than that.

steve w


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As Tad stated it, it boils to many variables. Also, a true measure of your maintenance would be if you were to know the total square footage of your builidng and you were to find out what does it take to maintain it per sq. ft. However, the number you get means nothing unless it is compared to other similarly situated buildings with similar amenities and you were to compare sq ft by sq ft.

AdC




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Proxies and Soliciting - Beth Apr 03, 2007


Hi BP,
You sound very knowledgeble about this, are you in the realty/management, etc. business? If so, may I contact you?


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Collecting Proxies & Soliciting - Beth Apr 02, 2007


My building currently accepts proxies for our Annual Meeting & Board of Directors election at our front desk. Last year, on at least one occasion, a proxy left for one running candidate was delivered to another accidently. A request for a "ballot box" or lockbox has been rejected by our Board. Any suggestions for ways around this, or other precedent?

We've also had shareholder complaints about our super soliciting them for their proxies. He's been accused of giving the proxies to a Board member/candidate that he has a favorable relationship with. Is it commonly accepted that supers can act shareholders for their proxies?


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Major US corporations direct proxies to a trustee (usually a bank representative) with some rules on how the vote is going to be directed for those shares where no preference is indicated.

I find co-ops should institute something similar. At best, shareholders should direct the proxies to Management or to the co-op counsel for purposes of counting and making sure a quorum is attained. However, a good board should make some provisions, policy or decision by way of resolution on how proxy statements should be voited if the shareholder fails come to the meeting. Such decision should be part of the instructions on the proxy. In this way, every shareholder will feel confident of returning a proxy in the event you are not familiar with other shareholders way of thinking.

Finally, if I were you, I would write a letter to the board stating your idea. Similarly, if you want to "rock" the meeting, this would be a good topic that you should be introduced at the annual shareholders' meeting to increase confidence on the proxy system. Again, seize the moments and use it to your best advantage!

AdC




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Beth - If you allow proxies to be left at your front desk, they should all be given to the managing agent who should give them to the Inspectors of Election at the annual meeting. You didn't say if they were left at the front desk in sealed envelopes - they should be. Front desk people, other staff and shareholders not named on the proxies have no business being involved or privy to proxy information. You also didn't say if proxies left for a candidate that were accidentally delivered to another candidate were transfered and tallied properly - or if the candidate who got them by mistake used them for himself.

Because some people are Board directors doesn't mean they have the right to access proxies or know who named whom as their proxy. I think your Board is wrong in not allowing a ballot box or lockbox to be kept at the front desk for proxies which, as I said above, should be kept sealed and given to the Inspectors of Election at the meeting.

Your super also has no business soliciting shareholders for proxies - and he should be told so outright by the managing agent. Shareholders should be advised in writing that a Board has a duty to do the best possible job for the coop and shareholders should use sound judgment and carefully consider all candidates based on their experience, ability and qualifications. This can be done in a diplomatic way.

Just because a super likes someone or finds someone easy to work with (maybe because that person makes his job easy by letting him do what he wants or do things his way) doesn't mean that someone is a good Board director. The super is an employee, not a shareholder, and has no vested interest in the coop, except for keeping his job and not having to work harder than he has to.


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Hi BP,
You sound very knowledgeble, are you in the realty business, and if so, can I contact you directly?


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Thanks for the compliment, Beth. Sorry but I'm not in the realty biz - just a shareholder who's been on the Board a long time, like to live in a nice place, and have a say in making it the best it can be for everyone. Our mgmt firm used to tell me I should become a property manager. I may be a sucker for punishment by wanting to be on my Board for so long, but a property manager? I'm not looking for that much punishment - haha!


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I forgot to say in my other message that you can't totally prevent your super from talking about Board candidates to shareholders and if he does it quietly you likely won't know it. You said you got complaints from people about his soliciting for their proxies. The managing agent should let him know if he values his job he'll stop doing that. You should keep reminding shareholders that as the Board goes so goes the coop and the action of any Board can have long-term impact, so whom they choose to represent their homes and investments should not be taken lightly.


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While I agree with you BP that the super should not get involed or canvass during election time, there is usually a reason one does. I have seen in the past where boards/management make house rules etc and the first ones to break them are the ones that set them in place to begin with. If in fact the super is canvassing (which I do not recommend)there is a reason behind it. After all the super is the "eyes and ears" of your Coop and probably knows more than anyone else about the "going ons".

FN


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FN - I agree with you that the super is a coop's "eyes and ears." He can be a source of info, but I've also found that when you ask for help he often resists. He doesn't want to tell people they don't recycle properly or are supposed to clean up their dog's mess in the lobby. He's afraid they won't like him anymore or doesn't want to be the "bad guy" and risk not getting $ at Christmas.

FN - I also agree with you that Boards/mgmt are sometimes the first ones to break rules, and there's usually a reason a super tries to canvas during election time. If you have responsible, fair, honest Board members, they shouldn't let one of them break rules. No one wants to turn a coop into a police state but the law of "what applies to one applies to all" should stand. Also, if a Board lets one Board member break rules, it reflects poorly on the entire Board.

Just my opinions --


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BP,I agree with most of what you say. If only it were so simple. If you are going to ask the super " to police" your building you had better back him 110%. To be quiet honest it is not a great idea to put the super in the line of fire as just by doing his job he may be in trouble. Example you inform your super to enforce a house rule regarding dog in the lobby. Soon enough all the people that walk their dog through the lobby will be pissed off with the super and fabricate stories etc. Come holiday season he suffers.

Now my question to you is, do you compensate your superintendent for loss of potential earnings at holiday season for doing a very good job and carring out your policies?

FN.


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FN - I too wish coop life was that simple. We do back our super 110% and make it very clear to shareholders that he's following directives. No one gripes and he doesn't suffer at holiday time. In fact, he does very well. I think people appreciate him more because he does a good job and he DOES remind people about certain things when he has to -- and in a firm but courteous and non-confrontational way. Bldgs have to decide about a super based on their specific needs.

I mentioned people cleaning up a dog's mess. Works for us, maybe not everywhere. Our super lives in but works Mon-Fri, 6am-2pm. He has another PT job, night school, doesn't get home until 10pm. We had 4 dogs when we enacted a no-dogs policy so they stayed. After them, no more dogs. We have a very expensive, dark-color lobby rug. The dogs are old now and make messes that aren't readily noticed - until someone steps in them. The super is told about dog accidents and he reminds owners it's their job to clean them up. In this case, he gets support from residents for doing this because no one wants to step in it, and it ruins our rug.

Like most things, when people see that rules a super helps to enforce benefit them they don't complain or take it out on him. Won't always work, but we keep trying to find ways to do our job, keep as many people happy as we can (they won't all be happy all the time, of course) and keep the coop environment cordial and...cooperative.

BTW, if anyone's wondering who cleans up dog messes when our super isn't on duty, it's not a problem anymore. The dog owners do because they know everyone in the bldg knows who they are, and if anyone will take heat about dog-doo in the lobby, elevator or wherever, they will.


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It boils down to doing what is profitable and easy versus doing what is right. The shareholders can break the house rules and the super allows it so he won't get short changed at Christmas by correcting them. What ever happened to doing the right thing?


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V, with all due respect you are missing the point. The issue we were discussing was doing the right thing and (here is the kicker, the board weighing in behind you). It is not a financial gain at holiday season for enforcing their policies (although it is nice to know that the board/residents appreciate you " policeing" their building on their behalf)

FN


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that went on for years at my building. in fact, the assistant manager used to call some people down to the office and "suggest" they sign a proxy. with Honest Ballot our elections are a lot fairer


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Our managing agent gets our proxies but a shareholder insists on us using a suggestion box. The managing agent doesn't do anything to discourage this person. Our election results were in question once and management blamed the errors on the software.


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We have a board member who was caught forging proxies...
He signed in for owners he knew would not attend the meeting, filled out their proxies, and voted for himself.
We have no idea how long this has gone on. And, unfortunately for a number of reasons (another issue) we do not trust our management to count the votes. Therefore we had the votes counted at the last Shareholders meeting, with observers.
I believe that shareholder have a legal right to have the counting of the votes monitored. There are agencies who specialize in this, and it&#146;s a common practice -- telling us that we are not paranoid.
Some, management companies prefer (ours is very tight with the forger) specific board members. IE: Board members who don&#146;t question their recommendations. (Another issue)


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>

yes a big problem. the first time i ran for the board i lost by 2 votes. two people came up to me and told me that when they went to vote in person they were told a proxy was already submitted and were not told they could revoke that proxy by voting in person. one was a person who was in the hospital and was not expected to be home ---this was known to management. i wonder how many other proxies were voted by management and the board.


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