As you set out to buy property in D.C., one of the first considerations to think about is what type of property appeals to you. Do you want to own a standalone home or purchase in a building with shared expenses? When deciding on a unit within a building, your choices come down to a condo or a coop. A co-what? Is there a difference? And, the answer is, yes.
Depending on your situation or personal preference, one may be the better choice for you. Or in the end, it may come down to the unit you like best based on design, size, and location. In either case, it is important to understand the differences.
Just as with condos, cooperatives are located throughout the city and include many buildings of historical and architectural significance. They range in size from as small as four units to buildings numbering in the hundreds. Many coops were once apartment buildings where the neighbors banded together to purchase their property and thus a cooperative was formed.
There are four major differences in condos vs coops: ownership, finances, fees, and board approval. Why don’t we discuss them all.
Let’s start with ownership. Getting down to basics, condos are real property and cooperatives are personal property. When you purchase a condo unit, you are purchasing your unit and the right to use the common spaces. You become a member of the condo association. When you purchase a coop unit, you are purchasing stock in a privately held corporation. As a stockholder you are leasing the apartment from the corporation in which you are a part owner. The corporation owns the building and the land.
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