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Condominium vs co-ops: pros and cons

On Behalf of | Mar 18, 2024 | REAL ESTATE LAW - Condominiums & Cooperatives |

Prospective homeowners often confuse condominiums and housing co-operatives due to their similarities. After all, both are apartment units within a larger building or complex.  

Both options deliver unique advantages and challenges for homeowners, making it crucial to understand the pros and cons before making a commitment.  


Buying a condominium means owning the unit’s interior space and having a shared interest in the building’s shared areas, such as lobbies, amenities and the land where the building is situated. The condominium’s association owns the communal area, which means it handles the maintenance and general upkeep of the space outside the units. Condo owners hold a title to their property, allowing them greater control over their units. This means they can rent or sell their property much easier than a co-op.  

However, purchasing a condominium comes with cons, too. The most notorious of them is the monthly homeowners’ association fees, which can be high depending on the unit size. Unit owners may also face special assessment fees for services not covered in monthly payments. Furthermore, homeowners’ associations can also be restrictive and impose rules limiting what owners can do within their unit, like prohibiting them from owning pets.  


Co-operative apartments are buildings owned by a corporation. Unlike condominium owners, buyers who opt for co-ops do not receive a piece of real estate after purchasing. Instead, residents get shares in the corporation proportional to the size or value of their unit.  

Co-ops often have lower purchase prices compared to condominiums in the same area. All shareholders have the right to vote as part of the co-op board’s decision–making process. As a result, co-op residents tend to develop a stronger sense of community.  

However, the application process to purchase a co-op share can be extremely rigorous, which often deters potential buyers. Moreover, getting a mortgage for a co-op can also be more complicated as some co-ops do not allow financing, while others may impose higher down payments.  

Choosing between buying a condominium or a co-op requires a wide array of considerations and a clear understanding of the financial responsibilities of making a purchase.  

Knowing the pros and cons of both properties is critical to making a decision that aligns with a prospective homeowner’s lifestyle and goals.  


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