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REBNY guide will keep co-op boards on same page.

A guide of do's and don'ts for coop boards could help smooth out the process of buying a new home for thousands of buyers and boards themselves.

The Real Estate Board of New York (REBNY) has teamed up with the Council of New York Cooperatives and Condominiums (CNYC) to release the Co-op Board Admissions Guide aimed at protecting boards from unfair claims of discrimination and speeding the whole process for buyers.

The guide sets out guidelines for establishing admissions policies and procedures and encourages boards to act in a timely fashion.

REBNY has also amended its Standard Purchase Application to include a statement of purchasers rights under federal, state and city laws, which is also endorsed by CNCY.

"In order to protect itself against unfounded claims of discrimination, it is important for a board to develop a carefully conceived policy and clearly stated procedures for the handling of applications," said Steve Spinola, president of REBNY.

The move comes in the wake of legislation proposed by City Council member Hiram Monserrate which some have criticized as being onerous and unfair to coop boards which have enjoyed half a decade of relative non-interference in their business of accepting or rejecting would-be buyers.

According to Mary Ann Rothman, executive director of CNYC, "Better than 90% of co-ops behave properly and don't give people a hard time. Legislation is not needed, but a guideline such as ours might be helpful.

"We thought that it made sense to put forward a sensible set of guidelines that we think most boards of directors probably follow already, but might be helpful to new boards or buildings that haven't been as organized as they could be in admissions policy."

The guidelines have already won the support of City Councilman Eric Dilan, chairman of the housing and building committee.

"One of the big problems out there with co-op boards is there's a lack of uniformity of the process," said Dilan. "What I think [REBNY and CNYC] are attempting to do is to create some uniformity and an educational tool for some of the co-op boards out there."

If passed Monserrate's Fair and Prompt Co-op Disclosure Law, Intro 119, would force co-op admissions boards to make decisions within six weeks of receiving an application and provide a reason for the rejection of anyone's application. If a decision is not made within the six-week time period, the applicant will be automatically approved and the co-op will face steep penalties.

Dilan believes that the current form of the bill does need some work as it opens up too many areas for litigation, which could increase the cost of operating and running co-ops.

However, he feels the overall spirit of the law is important and that if any discrimination is going on, he certainly wants to see an end to it.

Monserrate is expected to request a hearing on his bill before the summer break and the proposal will likely come before the council again sometime later this year.

So far, REBNY and CNYC have "had a very positive response" to the guide, which, according to Marilyn Davenport, senior vice president of REBNY helps boards outline their responsibilities under the law

"Boards find the admissions guidelines helpful. It's checklist of what to do," she explained.

Brokers also view the guidelines, and even the potential law, as a positive change for them. "Obviously, time limits are very good things for brokers," said Shana Altstaetter, director of operations at HH Realty Group.

"But generally, the guidelines make sense for everyone involved. It makes everything organized."

As more and more condos arrive on the market, Altstaetter said the guidelines are even more important for the boards themselves.

"Co-ops have to step up to the plate in order to have people still buying them. Eighty percent of the city is co-ops, but the landscape is changing," she explained.

Already the guidelines have been distributed among REBNY members and they are available at on REBNY's website at www.REBNY.com
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Title Annotation:Real Estate Board of New York; Council of New York Cooperatives and Condominiums
Author:Razzano, Tiffany
Publication:Real Estate Weekly
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Apr 26, 2006
Words:662
Previous Article:Brown Harris Stevens honors top brokers at annual celebration.
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