Friday, October 23, 2009

Council for New York Cooperatives & Condominiums: Seminars

We just held the second annual meeting of our New York condominium. During my first year on the board, we discovered that the Sponsor's estimates for the annual budget, though attractively low, had to be adjusted to cover the actual expenses of running the building and starting our building reserve. Our condominium's initial budget did not set aside money for a management company and because the board wanted to keep the common charges as low as possible, we decided to self-manage the building for the first few months. We were able to "self-manage" the building for the first year and decided to continue to do so.

To be honest, the first year had difficult moments and certain things truly helped us. Aside from having a good lawyer, another and less expensive source of reliable information the Council of New York Cooperatives & Condominiums.

Council of New York Cooperatives & Condos
website: email: phone: (212) 496-7400
250 W. 57th St., Suite 730, New York, NY 10107-0700

CNYC organizes an Annual Housing Conference, the Comparative Study of Building Operating Costs, and the Action Committee for Reasonable Real Estate Taxes. This year's Annual Conference will be held on Sunday, November 15, 2009 and you can sign up on the CNYC website. This year will be my first attending the CNYC Annual Housing Conference and I'm excited about the seminars. I'm choosing between Current Significant Legal Decisions for Co-ops & Condos or Insurance Guidelines for Buildings and Residents or Cashing in on Hidden Assets for my morning seminar. Here are my top choices for the midday seminar: Property Tax Q & A or Communicating with Shareholders/Unit Owners or Renovation Disasters and How To Avoid Them or Shareholder/Unit Owner Surveys That Succeed or Controlling Legal Costs or All About House Rules or The Role of the Corporate Secretary. My top afternoon seminar choices are: Condo Issues for New Attorneys, Internal Controls for Small Buildings, New Codes in New York City and Apartment Renovations & Combinations.

CNYC also offers regular seminars. Our condo has availed of a variety of seminars sponsored by CNYC. I just attended a session on "Self Management 101: A 3-Session Program for Small Buildings." The sessions have been helpful because of the lecture, materials, and the discussions. Like all buildings, in our first year, we've had to address conflict between unit owners and occasional threats of law suits, so speaking to Rebecca Poole, who has broad expertise in condo and coop management and to Mary Ann Rothman, who runs CNYC, helped give us an understanding of how other condos and coops have handled these types of situations.

The expertise and resource persons of CNYC also made a huge difference when our building and board faced specific issues, whether between residents or third parties. Our building is new construction and was supposed to have a 421a tax abatement but the tax abatement was not reflected in our first tax bills. The unexpectedly high tax bill surprised the unit owners and our mortgage lenders. Aside from having to pay the higher tax bills, mortgage lenders increased our monthly payments to adjust the escrow for real estate tax. We would have had to consult lawyers and abatement specialists to handle the decipher the problem, but the experience and advice from Mary Ann and others in CNYC helped us handle this tricky time until the abatement took effect.

CNYC membership fees depend on the size of your condominium or cooperative, but we've found it well worth the cost for our 20 unit building.

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