Getting on a condo or co-op board requires a significant investment—both in time and sweat equity. As president of my co-op board, I can attest firsthand to the labors involved. Rarely does a day pass that I don't receive a call from a shareholder who wants to ask a question, complain about a neighbor or discuss a pending issue. But to me, it's all worth it, for we board members are watching over and enhancing the values of our most important asset—our homes.
Getting Your Foot In
People usually want to join their building or association board for two main reasons: They want their opinions heard, and they want to add value to their building community. Co-op and condo boards generally seek members whose occupational skills can benefit the board. These people might be real estate brokers, accountants, architects, construction engineers, or business owners with good negotiating skills. But if you're simply a resident with good ideas, you usually can get on a board too—if you do your homework.
When moving into a new building or association, you should wait at least one to two years before attempting to earn a seat on the board. In fact, most community associations and co-op buildings maintain a one-year residency rule. But before you attempt to join the board, you can and should get to know your board members, house rules and the community's financial picture.
Although boards exercise firm control over budgetary matters, anyone can work to improve their building and community. In fact, such proactive involvement often paves the way to an eventual board seat.
You should always attend your co-op or condo's annual board meetings, participate in shareholder and committee meetings, and volunteer to help wherever needed. Some boards technically close monthly meetings to non-members, but most board members will appreciate your interest and will remember it when a board seat opens.