Realtors Testify on Merits Of Co-Op Disclosure Bill

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[Article written by John Jordan, Editor, Real Estate In-Depth]

WHITE PLAINS—Several Realtors testified before the Westchester County Board of Legislators on Sept. 17 in support of the pending Co-Op Disclosure bill that would mandate cooperative boards render a decision in a certain time frame on an application as well as disclose reasons for an applicant’s denial.

The testimony given prior to the start of the regular full County Board of Legislators session, featured a number of HGAR members, as well as several affected cooperative owners who have been frustrated by the lack of response by a cooperative board in their attempts to sell their units.

A full public hearing on the cooperative disclosure legislation is expected sometime in October. Realtor Rey Hollingsworth of Hollingsworth Real Estate Group of White Plains, read a letter to the County Board by William Revie of Crompond, NY who complained that his attempt to sell his Westchester County co-op was thwarted by a cooperative board after contracts were signed by him and the prospective purchaser.

“I was informed by my co-o board two months later that the application was denied. I was not given a reason for the denial,” he stated in the letter. “Upon following up with my management company, who I pay a monthly maintenance fee to manage my property, I was given no further explanation for the denial and told that no further explanation would be given as it could potentially be used against them in court.”

He concluded his letter to the County Board stating, “The proposed co-op disclosure legislation would make this process fair and transparent to buyers and sellers. I encourage you to vote ‘yes’ in adopting the Co-Op Disclosure Law.”

Kyra Jones, who has lived in cooperatives in White Plains and Mount Vernon, said that while her 10-year experience was positive at her White Plains cooperative, the co-op Board of Directors at her Mount Vernon residence failed to meet with three prospective purchasers for her unit and offered no explanation for their rejections.

“They collected their fees and left us all in the lurch not knowing what was going on,” she told county lawmakers. Jones requested the County Board enact legislation requiring co-op boards “to provide some clarity, some sort of explanation for their decisions and a standard by which all boards need to follow.”

Also testifying in support of the co-op disclosure legislation at the hearing were HGAR President Barry Kramer and Realtor John Crittenden. Kramer and Crittenden are co-owners Westchester Choice Realty of Scarsdale, which specializes in cooperative sales.

Albert Annunziata, executive director of the Building & Realty Institute of Westchester & the Mid-Hudson Region, which has lobbied against the co-op disclosure legislation, also testified and offered a compromise that would require a year-long public education and promotion effort “on how the co-op application process should work.”

He said in testimony to the County Board, that the BRI and its affiliated councils, such as the Apartment Owners Advisory Council, and the Cooperative and Condominium Advisory Council, would agree to have the county engage in a year-long study of the issues and or problems surrounding cooperatives in the county.

Annunziata proposed the compromise “to give this infrastructure the County Executive has put in place to assess the problem and if the problem is black and white we can at least approach it with a common basis of quantitative data…”

John Jordan
Editor, Real Estate In-Depth