New York City is like no place on earth and this is especially true when speaking about the real estate market. Most apartments in NYC are either condos or co-ops, but there are more co-ops than condos. However, there are more condos for sale than co-ops.
There are many differences between a co-op and a condo. The major difference is that when you buy a co-op, you are buying shares in a corporation (your building) and when you buy a condo, you get your apartment and a percentage of the common areas. For co-ops, your shares depend on the size of your apartment and these shares allow you to occupy a unit in the building. At a co-op closing, you will receive a stock certificate and a proprietary lease. At a condo closing, you will receive a deed.
Most buildings in older neighborhoods are co-ops and the newer buildings are condos. Prewar buildings are generally co-ops. Most co-ops and condos have doormen and supers. Some buildings will have more amenities. Also, the downpayment for a condo is less than a downpayment for a co-op.
Another huge difference between a condo and a co-op is the amount of closing costs that a purchaser will pay. Since a condo is considered real property, there are a lot more fees paid at closing. When buying a co-op, the shares are considered to be personal property and therefore less money is paid at closing.
Each month, an owner needs to pay a fee for the upkeep of the building. If you own a condo, this fee is called common charges. A condo owner pays taxes as well. If you own a co-op, the fee is called maintenance. Maintenance and common charges can change if there are any major expenses (new roof, new lobby) that come up. The board decides how much the fee will be raised and it is rare for the fee to decrease.
Co-op board approval is an arduous and rigorous process for the potential buyer and he/she can be rejected and lose the apartment. Condo boards are generally less demanding of the potential buyer. Condos may request a package on the buyer but there is no interview and the building only has the right of first refusal (they either have to approve you or the condo has to buy the apartment). In general, co-ops have many rules and some of these rules may dissuade buyers. Co-ops want residents to stay for long periods while condos are not as concerned about that.
The question remains, which type of apartment is more preferable and the answer is it depends. Generally, co-ops are more for people who want to remain in their apartment for a long time. Co-ops are great if you want to know your neighbors but be prepared to be analyzed and prodded. However, this process makes for a stable and secure investment.
If you prefer being left to your own devices and value flexibility, then buying a condo might be the best choice for you. Keep in mind, that this freedom comes with a price and condos are normally more expensive than co-ops.
All Area Realty Services is New York City’s leading real estate management company specializing in full-service property management for cooperative and condominium boards in the Manhattan area.