Condops: Co-ops for the Free Spirit

Co-op, Condo or Condop?

Co-op, Condo or Condop?

If you yearn for the freedom of condo living but your pocketbook won’t stretch beyond the co-op price range, a condop may be perfect apartment for you. To understand the differences and what they mean to your budget, here’s a quick rundown on the basics of modern living in Manhattan:  co-ops, condos and condops.

Co-ops are by far the most common form of apartment ownership in Manhattan – over 70 % of available apartments for sale are in co-op buildings. Co-op means cooperative ownership. Rather than owning your apartment, you become a member of the corporation which owns the entire building and you own shares in that corporation. Monthly maintenance fees cover building expenses including heat, hot water, insurance and staff salaries. In addition, your maintenance charge also  includes real estate taxes and  your apartment’s share of the underlying mortgage on the building. A portion of these maintenance fees (taxes and interest on the building’s mortgage) are tax-deductible.

Co-op boards play a huge role when you want to purchase or sell your home. You will be required to submit detailed financial information, tax returns, and personal and business reference letters and appear for a personal interview in order to gain the approval of the board before you can purchase your home. In addition, some boards may not allow you to sublet your apartment and may even have a say over the selling price, since a below-market sale could affect everyone else’s investment.

A condop is a co-op with less restrictive condo-type rules.

A Condo, short for condominium, is an alternative choice for apartment ownership. The number of available condos has grown in recent years, especially in new construction. When you buy a condo, you own your apartment outright just like you would own a single family house.  You don’t have to go through the board approval process.  And once you’ve bought, you have more control over your home.  Usually, you can rent it out to anyone you choose and when you are ready to sell it, you don’t need to deal with board approval for your buyer as you do in a co-op.

Monthly maintenance fees -called common charges- are usually lower than co-op maintenance charges, but don’t provide any tax deductions because there is no underlying mortgage on a condo and you pay property taxes on your apartment directly to the city.

So what’s a condop? Simply put, a condop is a co-op with less restrictive condo-type rules. With condops you still need to play well with others and you own shares in the co-op but the rules are often more relaxed than the standard co-op. Condops, like most condos,  may allow you to finance a higher portion of the price by requiring lower  down payments,  and usually there will be  no high-stakes personal interview with the board.

In a condop, like a co-op, some of the monthly maintenance fees are tax-deductible   but like a condo you’re usually relatively free to rent your apartment, use it as a pied-a-terre, may be able to have live/work space and may be able to sell your property more easily. Prices for condops are usually lower than comparable apartments in condos.

Not all condop buildings have these flexible rules, so you need to study individual listings carefully when looking for condops, and be sure your buyer’s broker and attorney are familiar with their structure.

Categories : Co-op, Condo, Condop, Properties

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