The Differences are narrowing between Condos and Co-ops


If you’re looking to buy an apartment in New York City, you probably already know there are basic trade-offs between buying a co-op or a condo.  Co-ops usually are stricter in approval and building rules, but they make up a higher percentage of housing and are generally less expensive than condos.  But there’s more to it than that. 

Some neighborhoods have more condos for sale than co-ops.  However, the sometimes stringent application process and financial requirements for co-ops usually mean the buildings are more financially secure.

 Here are some factors to consider:


  • There are more co-ops (75%) than condos (25%) in New York City, but the gap is shrinking.
  • Certain neighborhoods with new developments have a higher numbers of condos because most new buildings are sold as condos.
  • Consider your style.  If your heart is set on a pre-war building, likely you’ll have to buy a co-op.

 Price Difference

  • According to Miller Samuel, the overall market statistics seem to show that on average condos cost as much as 40% more than co-ops.
  • A comparison of co-ops and condos with similar amenities and size conducted in 2006, showed the difference to be only about 9% more.  Condos are sometimes larger and they involve different closing costs due to the type of ownership.

 Approval Process

  • Historically only co-ops require very detailed applications with financial statements and tax returns, however, some condos are starting to require similar applications.
  • Condo boards cannot reject potential buyers, but they can pre-empt the sale by offering to buy the apartment on the same terms.  This rarely happens because few condo boards have the finances to make these purchases.
  • Co-ops generally require larger down payments, some as low as 20% of the purchase but many require 25-50% down payments and some don’t allow financing at all.
  • Financial requirements can make buying a co-op difficult for the self-employed and foreign investors.


  • Some co-ops have very strict rules, imposing restrictions on subletting or use as pied-a-terre.  But even some condos have rules for pets or noise restrictions, the same as co-ops.
  • Renting a co-op usually means getting board approval, if the building allows it at all, and usually only for limited rentals of 1-2 years at the most.  Most condos allow rentals or sub-lets.


Inspired by New York Times article.

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