Co-op and condo board service has its drawbacks. The pay is non-existent. The hours are long. It is almost guaranteed to stoke the ire of someone in the building. And, oh yes, it can get you sued and it rarely generates so much as a word of thanks.
Yet sane people continue to volunteer to serve on boards. Here are five reasons why board service, despite its ample downside, can be a rewarding experience:
1.) You get to make the rules.
Everyone in the co-op has to abide by the house rules, but just a handful of people – the co-op board – actually makes them. “Many items that affect your day-to-day living experience within the co-op will be put to a vote throughout the year, and most will only require majority board approval (rather than general shareholder input),” Elizabeth Kohen, managing broker and co-owner of Garfield Realty, tells Brick Underground. “[Since] the board can create or amend the existing house rules and regulations on an ongoing basis, it’s valuable to be a part of that decision-making body.”
2.) You can get something fixed.
Allison Pennell, an agent at Brown Harris Stevens, got on her co-op board to spearhead a pet project. “When the co-op ignored the holes in the cornice and tried to ignore the raccoons that had taken up residence inside, I got on the board to refinance, do capital improvements to install a new cornice and roof, and redo our dilapidated halls,” she says. “Getting on the board was the only way to get any of that accomplished.”
3.) You can enhance the quality of life for everybody.
Citi Habitats associate broker David Maundrell Jr. is president of his Midwood, Brooklyn, co-op’s board and has served on it for more than 10 years. He says he’s particularly interested in maintaining the quality of life for all residents of the building. For example, dealing with excessive noise. “You try to address the problem sensitively and responsibly, and fix it – without being antagonistic,” he says.
4.) You can enhance your investment.
Serving on your co-op board allows you to have a voice in which improvements are made in the building. “I tend to focus on issues that I feel enhance the value of our apartments,” says Drew Glick, a broker at Brown Harris Stevens who has served on his co-op board for 20 years and understands what apartment buyers want. “I spearheaded new and expanded storage facilities and pushed for lobby and hallway renovations, for example.”
5.) You can burnish your building’s reputation.
It’s not uncommon for real estate listings to use the term “well-run co-op.” The label can have a ripple effect when it comes to buying, selling, legal matters, assessments, maintenance increases and, of course, apartment prices. Board members are privy to the literal nuts and bolts of the building, in addition to its health financially and legally. Deferring necessary repairs will not win the honorific of “well-run co-op.” Only the board has the power to decide which jobs get done.
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