Of all the stages of co-op life, the initial application and approval process, especially the interview, is certainly the most harrowing. Many people fear that just one wrong word will mean the difference between acceptance and rejection. The more “exclusive” and upscale the building, the more difficult this process seems to be.
There are many “pluses” to co-op living. In this day and age, when fewer and fewer people belong to fraternal orders, churches, sports leagues and so on, and families are scattered all over the country, being a co-op shareholder may provide a person with the sense of community he or she doesn’t find elsewhere.
Also, a co-op can be a more permanent type of community than a condo development—especially in cases where investors buy blocks of condo units, then rent them out to tenants.
Still, the application process proves to be difficult. In particular, many non-Chicagoans who are trying to move to the city and who are unfamiliar with Chicago-style co-ops are completely befuddled and frightened by the entire process. And everyone’s heard the horror stories—co-ops that insist that applications be printed out in a particular font and type sizes or that insist on weighing applicants’ dogs to make sure they’re not “over the limit.”
Condo boards don’t have the same amount of authority over buildings that co-op boards do, but some condos are making their application process just as difficult.