Co-ops vs. Condos: What’s the Diff?

In the greater downtown area, there are some great co-ops and swanky condos. If you’re interested in making a purchase, you may be considering one of the two. But what’s the difference between them, and what makes a condo, a condo and a co-op, a co-op?


Technically speaking, a co-op is a non-profit corporation dedicated to the interest of shareholders or members (the owners of individual units). What that means is that co-ops like 1300 Lafayette East, or Town Square Cooperative own real estate and there is one master mortgage covering all the co-op’s units. When financing a co-op, you purchase stock in a corporation, not the actual piece of real estate. Living in a co-op, you pay a monthly association fee, which covers the the payment of the principal and interest on the master mortgage, property taxes, insurance, water, maintenance, and in some cases, the cost of heating and air conditioning. The co-op is responsible for exterior and grounds maintenance such as repairs, window washing, and interior upkeep like plumbing and electrical repairs. Shareholders are eligible for tax advantages and deductions, and elect a Board of Directors to run the day-to-day affairs of the co-op. Should you decide to move, you sell your property, or equity, to a new buyer, or possibly back to the corporation.


If you purchase a condominium, like the apartments in Garden Court or Riverfront Towers, the unit and a percentage of the common areas (or common elements) belong to you and you are taxed directly by the City. There is no shared mortgage on the building or property, and the condo association determines the operating budget for the building and bills owners monthly for those “common charges.” Common charges are your share of utilities like heat, water, gas, and electricity for the common areas, staff salaries, and insurance. Total monthly costs for a condo tend to be lower than a co-op unit, but the initial purchase price is generally a bit higher for the condo.

Want the full details? Check out this excerpt from the American Bar Association on sharing ownership  of property.

Co-ops vs. Condos: What’s the Diff?