Downsizing to a COOP or CONDO? What you need to know.

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In this blog, you can read a recent Q & A with Joe Houlihan about moving from a home to a Condo or COOP and what differences you might want to know about before hand.

Q: What are the benefits of owning a condominium vs. a house? Drawbacks?
A: Probably the most popular benefit of owning a condominium is that you are typically not responsible for any outside maintenance. The condo association takes care of shoveling, snowplowing, landscaping, roofs, painting the exterior, paving, and more – all of those things that can drain your budget and your time when you own a house. Additionally, condos often come with a variety of amenities, like a clubhouse, pool, playground, basketball and tennis courts, and community center.

There are certain drawbacks to a condo, however. You lose a level of privacy, and have a lot of neighbors in very close proximity, which can be noisy. Parking can also be a challenge, depending on the development. Also, with a house, you have free reign to do what you like to the exterior and your yard. As an owner of a condo, you will belong to a homeowner’s association, and there are certain rules that must be followed, including items such as specified hours that workers can come to your home, exterior paint colors, and facade maintenance regulations regarding fences and plantings. Also, homeowner associations can raise fees if a huge maintenance issue comes up (e.g., windows need to be replaced).

Q: What is the difference between a condo and a co-op? What’s a better bargain in this market?
A: When you purchase a condo, you are purchasing actual real property. Co-ops are owned by a corporation, and when you purchase a co-op, you are buying shares of stock in that corporation, so you are more like an investor. Co-ops are run by boards, and have a monthly maintenance fee to cover building expenses and upkeep. Additionally, the approval process to purchase a co-op is much more onerous and time-consuming than with a condo. Finally, co-op boards often do not allow subletting at all and, if they do, the rules are very restrictive, as co-op boards want most of the building to be owner-occupied. It is much easier to purchase a condominium, and the rules are generally more relaxed. The problem buyers run into is that condos are hard to come by in certain marketplaces such as southern Westchester where Co-ops are most common.

Q: Are there any specific professions/people that seem to do better in condos?
A: People who like condos want to relieve themselves of the responsibilities of house maintenance, such as cleaning the gutters, mowing the lawn, and fixing the roof. Condos are especially suited to people who have second homes. That way they can go away for three days, or even three months, and not have to worry about such home maintenance issues as shoveling the walkway after a snowstorm.  Condos are also great for working couples, who are both so busy with their jobs that they don’t have time for maintenance issues, as well as seniors, who may not want to or physically be able to take care of their homes anymore.