Co-Ops vs. Condos: What’s The Difference?

Condos and co-ops are comparable, but they also have distinctive qualities that give residents a wide range of possibilities. The real estate market in New York City is unique from all others in the country in many respects. The fact that apartments for sale in NYC are either condominiums or co-ops is one of the greatest distinctions.

Condos are the norm in most locations, but not in New York City. Even though there are more co-ops than condominiums—by an estimated 75%—there are always more condos available for sale.

When you purchase a condominium, you become the owner of your apartment as well as a portion of the common amenities.

In a co-op, you purchase shares in the corporation that owns your apartment building rather than the physical flat itself.

Purchasing shares entitles you to occupy a space in the co-op building.

The size of your share is by the size of your apartment. You will receive a deed at the closing of a condominium; at the closing of a co-op, you will receive a proprietary lease.

Both condos and co-ops typically have a doorman and a superintendent on duty; some will also have a concierge who will handle any tasks the other two are unable to complete. The amenities might be simple (such as a basement storage room) or extensive (such as a landscaped terrace).


Condominiums are in the newest areas. Condo complexes are frequently more up-to-date than co-ops because they didn’t become widespread in New York City until the 1970s.

New condominiums are likely to be located in up-and-coming and periphery areas on the far East and West Side because there is little land available for new condo buildings in Manhattan. Long Island City, Williamsburg, Downtown Brooklyn, and other once-industrial districts along the shoreline in Queens and Brooklyn have seen a lot of new condo buildings.

Down Payment
The cost of purchasing real estate is sometimes a deciding factor, and condos offer appealing down payments, with typically only 10% of the purchase price necessary. Condos, on the other hand, are typically more expensive than co-ops.

Monthly Charges
Condo owners have a monthly bill called “common charges”. These are for the upkeep of the building. Areas involving common areas, landscaping, payment of the staff, and often some of the utilities.

Condo owners write two checks each month (one for building upkeep, and one for property taxes) but often the condo owner’s combined total is lower than the co-op owner’s maintenance bill.

Condo Board

Condo boards, on average, are less demanding than co-op boards. Co-ops have a more thorough approval process that includes an interview.

The board of directors decides whether a prospective buyer can purchase the co-op.

“With a condo, a building can request a package on the buyer, but there is no interview, and the building only has the right of first refusal. This means when you have a signed contract unless something happens to the buyer, the deal is as good as done.

Condominiums typically have fewer rules, such as limits on the use of foreign funds for the purchase. Condos allow international investors to buy and rent out their units; often, there are certain restrictions, but none are onerous.

Unlike co-ops, condos allow the apartment to be sublet or leased out to another party.

However, some condominium societies may have stricter rules than others.

Potential buyers must conduct a study to determine what is and isn’t permitted.

The Preference of the Buyer
Condos are almost always more expensive than comparable co-ops. Furthermore, if seeing new people in the elevator on a daily basis bothers you, look elsewhere.

Renters are widespread in condominium developments.

Condo owners frequently take advantage of the more lenient policies.


In general, co-ops are more prevalent in older, established residential communities.

If you enjoy historic houses, you will almost certainly wind up in a co-op, as practically all prewar structures are arranged in this manner.

Furthermore, because co-op buildings are older than condo projects, they are frequently located in more central places.

Down Payment
As with buying a condo, the decision may come down to how much money you have saved for a down payment. Although a condo may be purchased with a 10% down payment, a co-op may demand a substantially larger down payment—in the range of 20% to 50% of the purchase price. The good news is that co-ops have lower buying prices than condominiums. Prices, however, might vary based on the neighborhood.

Monthly Fees
Co-op owners pay one check every month for “maintenance” expenditures.

The monthly charge, like that of condominiums, pays toward the basic care of the property and the employees required to keep the building working effectively.

Co-op costs are often greater than condo fees since they frequently include at least a portion of the building’s mortgage. Although monthly prices vary according to the size of the building.

It is crucial to note, however, that maintenance and general expenses are not fixed. Any large expense—a new roof, a new lobby, additional staff personnel—may trigger an assessment, which is decided by board members and is seldom reversed.

The Board
As previously noted, most co-op boards have a stringent and often lengthy application procedure that may need the buyer to provide financial information, submit job verification, and perhaps undergo a personal background check.

You also have to be authorized by the board after completing an application, which is normally quite extensive and time-consuming.   Then, for little to no reason, a buyer might be denied after or even before their interview just because of anything in their package.

Co-op boards typically have more regulations than condo boards and may specify things like if you can place Christmas decorations on your door, as well as whether your pet is allowed to live with you. The majority of regulations are intended to foster peace, tranquillity, and the politeness of cooperative life.

However, the laws that deter some local purchasers and nearly all overseas buyers are co-op limitations on subletting. Policies vary for each building, but when co-ops enable shareholders to rent their units, it is usually for a limited time, such as one or two years out of every five. Before subletting, owners must normally have lived in the home for a particular amount of time—in certain situations, up to three years.

Subletters must take out an application and may be subject to a background check, and owners often pay a fee to be authorized to sublease. Board permission is required.
Another regulation of cooperatives that makes international purchasing hard is that they are unlikely to accept anybody whose money is located outside of the United States.

The Preference of the Buyer
Co-ops are a good option for people who seek stability and wish to establish roots in a building.

Ask yourself simply, “Am I in it for the long run?”. 

Co-ops are far less nomadic than condos, making them an excellent choice if you want to get to know your neighbors. Be prepared to be probed, prodded, and scrutinized, but recognize that this is what maintains a co-op a steady and incredibly secure investment.