Condos vs. Co-Op: Which is Right for You?

  • Darren Sukenik
  • 05/30/21

Are you ready to buy a new home in the Chelsea neighborhood? As most New Yorkers are aware, the two most common types of real estate in Chelsea are condos and co-ops. Though these may seem very similar to an outside observer, they have some big differences. 

Here is what you need to know about condos for sale in Chelsea versus co-ops and how to choose the best one for your unique situation.

What is a Condo?


A condo is very similar to an apartment, though in most cases, apartments are rented or leased, and condos are purchased. When you buy condos for sale in Chelsea, you are buying a property that includes an interest in common areas such as the lawn and lobby of the building. Condos typically charge maintenance fees on a monthly or quarterly basis that cover services like snow removal, lawn mowing, and cleaning and repair of common areas. 

Though there will likely be a homeowners association or board in condo buildings, these are much less involved than a co-op board and are not involved when it comes to who will be able to buy or sell units in the building. Condos tend to cost more upfront than co-ops and have higher property taxes, but it’s much easier to buy and sell them.

What is a Co-Op?

Co-ops aren’t considered “real property.” When you buy Chelsea real estate in a co-op building, you are actually buying shares in a corporation that then allows you to live in one unit on the property. A co-op board must vote you in as a new owner, a process that can be lengthy and frustrating. When you sell a co-op, that sale also has to be approved by the board, and they can make the decision to bar the sale for any reason. 

Another difference between a co-op and a condo is that co-ops usually charge higher fees. These fees may or may not include utilities but usually do include regular maintenance of the building’s common areas and exterior. On the plus side, co-ops are generally less expensive upfront than condos for sale in Chelsea, and property taxes are also usually less, as co-ops are considered a single property rather than each unit being considered an individual piece of real estate.

How to Decide Between a Condo and Co-Op


Not sure if you want to buy condos for sale in Chelsea or look at co-ops? Ask yourself the following questions to help you make the decision:

◾ How long do I want to live here? 

Before you buy Chelsea real estate, you need to look at the future. If you only plan to live in the area for a couple of years or less, you’ll likely be better off renting. If you do plan to live in the area for five years or more, buying is a good option. If you plan to move to a bigger place or relocate after the five-year mark, a condo is likely the better option as it will be much easier to sell. However, if you are looking at a piece of Chelsea real estate for your forever home, the benefits of a co-op will likely outweigh those of a condo.

◾ How involved do I want to be with my neighbors? 

Living in a building with multiple other tenants will always have its challenges, most of which cannot be avoided. However, co-op living takes that to a new level. The board decides everything together, from who can buy and sell (and to whom) to what maintenance and upgrades will be done on the building. This can be overwhelming for those who like their privacy but a perk for those who want to feel those they live with are more like a family than just neighbors.

◾ What is your budget? 

As noted earlier, condos for sale in Chelsea almost always have a higher up-front cost than co-ops. In some cases, the difference can be up to 30%. If you have a modest budget, a co-op might be the best choice for you.

◾ Will you rent it out? 

If you plan to only live in your home part-time (or less) and want to make money by renting it out either short or long-term, you’ll probably find that this is impossible in a co-op building. If you want to have the flexibility to rent, you should look at condos for sale in Chelsea.  

◾ Do you need to buy quickly? 

If you need to move into your new home ASAP, a condo will generally offer a quicker selling process. Co-op vetting processes can be lengthy, and you will need approval by the board.

◾ How private are you? 

When you apply to purchase a co-op, the board will want to see everything from financial references to your debt-to-income ratio and will require in-depth in-person interviews. If you enjoy your privacy, you may not like this process and may also not like living in a building with those who know all your financial secrets.

◾ Do you want to be involved in the upkeep of the property? 

When you buy condos for sale in Chelsea, you may pay a monthly maintenance fee, and everything is taken care of for you. With a co-op, you may be required to pitch in on everything from taking out the trash to shoveling snow. If you take pride in caring for your home, a co-op is likely a good option.

When it comes down to it, choosing a condo vs. a co-op is a personal decision based on your preferences, situation, budget, and lifestyle. Still not sure which you want to live in? Reach out to an experienced Chelsea real estate agent like those on the Sukenik Glazer team. Your agent can explore the pros and cons with you and show you condos for sale in Chelsea as well as co-op options to help you decide which is the best option for you.

 

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