New York City Real Estate: Co-ops vs. Condos vs. Condops

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February 18, 2020
where can you find only coops for rent in new york city

One of the main things you need to figure out before searching a NYC apartment is what kind of apartment is right for you. To do that, you need to know what is the difference between three fundamental NYC property types: condos, co-ops, and condops.

What are Co-ops?

The number of cooperatives (co-ops) in NYC exceeds the number of condos, accounting for nearly 75% of the apartment market. In a co-op, instead of owning the property itself, you own shares of the corporation that owns the property in the co-op.

The number of shares you own is directly related to your apartment’s size, meaning if you own a larger apartment in the co-op, you have more shares than someone in a smaller apartment in the building. Apartment size also directly correlates to the co-op maintenance fees you pay, which combines your portion of:

1) the taxes on the building

2) common costs to run the building

3) heat and hot water (this is usually included in co-ops, though there are exceptions).

Co-ops also are distinctive from other NYC property types because of their (generally, stricter) rules. Most co-op associations require a prospective purchaser to be approved by the co-op’s board. The board can reject applicants for any reason they want: they can deny you on financial grounds, employment history, lifestyle, poor board interview, or assumed use for the apartment (i.e. it would be used as a pied-à-terre or something other than your primary residence).

Pros of Co-Ops

Generally speaking, the biggest appeal of a co-op vs. any of its other housing counterparts is price. Co-ops are generally less expensive than condos: they offer more control as a shareholder, often have lower closing costs, and there are simply more of them available.

A study by the Furman Center for Real Estate and Urban Policy came to the conclusion that condos are worth about 9% more than their co-op counterparts. Another pro of co-ops is stability. Because the co-op application and approval process is rigorous and co-ops are usually designed for long-term residents, the lifestyle is considered to be more stable.

Cons of Co-Ops

Because of the strict rules and rigorous approval process, searching and obtaining a co-op can sometimes be challenging. At any point for any reason, a buyer can be rejected. Foreign buyers have a harder time purchasing a co-op because they, a lot of the time, do not have the necessary U.S. paper trail (with banks, U.S. credit, and whatnot). Co-ops typically require a much larger down payment than condos, usually about 20% of the purchase price (with some even as high as 50%!).

Every co-op has its own rules, but most are restrictive on how your apartment can be used: many limit or prohibit subletting and uses of units as pieds-à-terre. If you plan to sell, the extra layer of approval can slow down the process: if a potential buyer is rejected by the board, you start back at square one. When you close as a seller, co-ops usually have a flip tax, a method to help raise money for a co-ops’ overhead expenses.

Here is an example of a co-op found on the Localize.city marketplace right now:

325 East 57 Street, #15C

What are Condos?

Condominiums, or condos, differ from co-ops because you will own real property. Rather than owning shares of a building, like in a co-op, each individual unit receives a separate tax bill from the city. Monthly charges are also seen with condos, covering building operating costs and management fees. However, they are often much lower than those of co-ops because there is no underlying mortgage for a condominium building.

Pros of Condos

Buying a condo is pretty straightforward. Because you can sublet your unit and, in some cases, finance up to 90% of the purchase price, condos are a top choice for flexibility, especially among foreign investors. When purchasing a condo, you purchase the property, rather than shares in a corporation. This gives you more freedom over your unit and means you are not subject to restrictive rules that sometimes burden co-op owners.

Condos may be purchased as investment properties and owners are generally free to sublet their units. Because of fewer restrictions, condos are also often easier to sell.

Cons of Condos

Because nearly 75% of the marketplace is co-ops, condos are significantly harder to come by. The flexibility of condo life is desirable, putting condos in demand and making them more expensive. 

Here is an example of a condo found on the Localize.city marketplace right now:

200 West 79 Street, #9M

Now that we’ve discussed co-ops and condos, we can explore a third NYC property type: the love-child of a co-op and a condo called a condop.

What is a Condop?

A condop is a co-op that was formed inside of a condominium building. The street level of the building often houses a single condo unit for commercial and retail uses. This space is run under conventional condo rules. Above the commercial space is the co-op, where apartments are divided via shares among residents. Because the above space abides by co-op rules and the commercial space abides by condo rules, both sets of rules are in effect for condop owners. Condops occupy the least amount of space in the NYC real estate market, at about 5%.

Pros and Cons of a Condop

In general, condops take some of the good and some of the bad parts of both co-ops and condos.

Pros:

●       Sublet flexibility (Condo)

●       Lower closing costs (Co-op)

●       Financing in certain buildings (Condo)

●       Price (in between Co-op and Condo)

Cons:

●       Own shares in the corporation (Co-op)

●       Board approval process (Co-op)

Here is an example of a condo found on the Localize.city marketplace right now:

343 East 74 Street, #12L

Which real estate type is right for you?

Finding your perfect home is not easy. There are many different things to consider when house-hunting in New York City: buying vs. renting, studio vs. 1-bedroom, co-op vs. condo vs. condop, and so much more. You need to decide what is best for your needs: do you plan on subletting your apartment, or will this be your primary residence? Are you prepared to face the co-op board and approval process?

There are many things to consider when looking for your perfect residence, but Localize makes it a little bit easier by providing exclusive insights like amount of sunlight in an apartment, building violations and complaints, elevator problems, and more.

Find your co-op, condo, or condop with a little help from Localize.City.

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