Chong Cf, Home Buyer in New York, NY

What is a coop? How does it work? Tqvm.

Asked by Chong Cf, New York, NY Fri Jul 8, 2011

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Lindsey Newman’s answer
This question is a great one, and certainly something that most Real Estate Agents are asked on an almost daily basis.

When you buy a condo in New York City (Manhattan), you are purchasing your own property, complete with a deed and a portion of common space in the building. Investors tend to prefer buying condos in New York because they offer considerably more flexibility to sublet, plus there's a more lenient review of prospective buyers. Condos in New York generally require proof that one has obtained adequate financing and can afford the monthly common charges. When you buy a coop, which is short for co-operative housing project, you are actually purchasing shares in a corporation. Most co-ops do not own the land that the building sits on, but instead has a land lease. A condop is a coop with much more lenient ownership requirements set forth by the board. This type of apartment ownership is much less common. With all coop and condop ownership, including pre-war coops in Manhattan, you have a leasehold interest in your apartment, but you don't actually own your unit. In all cases, a board package will have to be assembled, carefully prepared and submitted for review by the building's board before a purchase can take place.

This question, along with several other frequently asked questions and answers can be viewed here:…

If you plan on looking at apartments for sale, there is an important point I want you to keep in mind. While there is plenty of information out there about apartments for sale, the ads that you answer are placed by the Sellers' Agents. It is their job, since they are hired by the sellers to market and advertise their apartments, to sell for the highest price possible. Since the sellers are the ones who pay the commission, and Real Estate Agents work free with buyers, it is really in your best interest to have your own representation looking out for your best interests. A Buyers' Agent specializes in helping buyers save time and money, while educating them about the Real Estate market. If you should have any additional questions, please feel free to contact me, I am happy to help.

Lindsey Newman
Senior Real Estate Sales Associate
1 vote Thank Flag Link Wed Jan 11, 2012
It's important to understand that when buying in a coop, you will become a shareholder. Thus, the financial status of the entity (the corporation that owns the building and issues stock to new owners) is very important. Be sure that before buying your attorney carefully conducts "due diligence" on the building to see what is happening. Feel free to call if you would like to hear about our due diligence program, as I regularly represent buyers and sellers throughout Metropolitan New York City.
Web Reference:
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Jul 17, 2011
You've gotten a lot of good technical answers here, and you can refer to the times I've answered this in the past here as well. So, I'll switch to a more practical approach if you are thinking of buying a co-op. The questions that would be relevant are if you plan on occupying it yourself, as co-ops are expected to be owner-occupied and have strict subletting rules. If this is not the case, a condo might be a better option. Then, do you have at least 20% down, and will you have a couple of years of maintenance and mortgage payments in the bank afterwards? Co-ops usually require that you have assets left. Do you have excellent personal and professional references? If the answer to any of these is "no" then a condo might be a better option for you.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Jul 8, 2011
You can watch this video which will give you an explanation for what a co-op is.

Jennifer Chiongbian
SVP/ Associate Broker
Rutenberg Realty NYC
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Jul 8, 2011
Hi, Here is a blog post I wrote awhile back...

I have been receiveing alot of questions about Coop Apartments, what they are and how the operate. A Coop is a corporation made up of all the occupants of the building. When You buy a Coop you are not buying an actual unit, you are buying shares in a corporation. You will receive a stock certificate and a proprietary lease which entitles you to occupy the unit.

Since the occupants do not own the unit they do not pay property taxes like you would in a condo or house. You pay a monthly maintenence fee wchich includes your pro-rata share of the buildings property taxes, and care for the grounds, etc. If in NY you will qualify for the basic STAR reduction but will have to inquire with your particular Coop to see how they handle it. There are additional fees that vary from parking, assessments, flip tax, storage, etc. Again each building is different and you will have to inquire about any additional fees. There is a percentage of your maintenece that is tax deductable, usually 45%-55%, but it can vary. There is always a minimum down payment requirement which can range from 10%-50% down, depending on the Coop. Nowadays alot of Coops are requiring 20% down to protect themselves and make sure only the qualified apply. Even the banks are requiring this so times have changed a bit. On occassion you will find a "Sponsor Unit" available. This is a unit that is on the market by the sponsor for the first time. These are highly sought after because they usually don't require a board interview. This is good for the first time only, the next time it goes on the market a board interview will be required. Keep in mind just because at first you don't need an interview the board usually still looks at the package.

When purchasing a coop part of the process is a board interview. Many people get scared and worry about what it will be like. Once you have an accepted offer on a unit you will receive a board package to fill out. This includes a standard application, request for financial information (bank statements, W-2s from previous and current years, pay stubs, etc.) Here are a few major things the board will look at...1) Amount of down payment, where it came from, and how much you have in reserve after making it. Most Coops want to see a few months reserves at least. 2) Credit scores, do you have any judgments against you, how much debt you have. They look at your "Front End Ratio" which is how much debt you'll have with just housing payments and "Back End Ratio" housing debt along with any other existing debt you have; credit cards, loans, etc (student loans sometimes get deferred, you'll have to inquire). They will have a debt-to-income ratio requirement which can vary. 3) Current Income is important as well, they want to see that you make enough and aren't spending everything you have to pay your bills. Having alot of cash in the bank doesn't impress them, that can be spent quickly. You will also get a copy of the by-laws (house rules) and the offering plan. The offering plan tells how many units are in the building, what the exisiting mortgage is on the building, how much the building has in reserves, etc. You will have a chance to review these with your attorney to make sure you are buying into a financially sound building.

The application can be a bit intrusive but the Coop does this to make sure that they don't take on any financial liabilities to the building. They will only hurt the corporation. Once the package is complete it can be submitted for the managment review and once they approve it, it's then passed on to the board members. Once the board reviews you will be contacted to come in for an informal interview. They might ask questions regarding your motivation for buying in the building, questions about your finances, or just general questions to get to know you further. They will have a pretty good sense of who you are by your package already.

My advice to you...stay calm, don't over answer their questions, be positive! At times you will find out right away if you are approved and others you will be notified the next day, or so by the management company. The approval needs to be in writing and sent to the attorneys on the deal to make it official. Once approved you can finalize everything with the bank and setup a closing. I hope this answers some of your questions and I welcome any further inquiries.

0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Jul 8, 2011
A coop is a type of ownership very common in NYC and Manhattan. A coop is considered "personal property" rather than "real property" A coop is a corporation. Units in the building are allocated shares. Real estate taxes in a coop are included in the maintenance. A coop can have an underlying mortgage that each unit pays a per portion towards. A condo can not have an underlying mortgage. Coop purchasers who obtain a loan are not subject to New York State mortgage recording tax. There are pros and cons of coop ownership. Approx 70% of home ownership in Manhattan is coops. The shareholders vote for a board of directors. A majority vote is usually needed to change a provision in the proprietary lease.

Mitchell Hall, Associate Broker
The Corcoran Group
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Jul 8, 2011
Mitchell Hall, Real Estate Pro in New York, NY
Simply put, the traditional housing co-op involves the formation of a corporation for the purpose of acquiring title to a multi-unit building and, in turn, leasing individual units (apartments) to the shareholders of the corporation; the sale of a co-op requires approval by the Board of Directors—which can be (and often is) withheld based upon arbitrary selection criteria—with no recourse to the buyer or seller if the sale is not approved; co-op” ownership represents an interest (i.e. stock) in realty.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Jul 8, 2011
When you buy a co-op, you don't actually own your apartment. Instead, you own shares of a co-op corporation that owns the building. Its like owning a Mutual fund. There are many shareholders and you own a piece of a company. The larger your apartment, the more shares within the corporation you own. Monthly maintenance fees cover building expenses including heat, hot water, insurance, concierge, and real estate taxes. Co-ops are generally less expensive then condos . Some of your monthly maintenance fees are tax deductible.
Web Reference:
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Jul 8, 2011
A coop is a type of ownership property in a multiple dwelling that is incorporated. The individual unit owners own shares in the cooperative building and do not own the actual property. The amount of shares owned is determined by the value and size of the apartment. The cooperative building owns all of the units and the purchaser is buying stock in the building which is issued a "proprietary lease" for the unit they occupy. The Coop is run by a Board of Directors.

Ross Ellis
Licensed Real Estate Salesperson
Member of Real Estate Board of New York
Halstead Property, LLC
212.317.7828 direct
646.472.7875 fax
770 Lexington Avenue, 10th Floor
New York, NY 10065
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Jul 8, 2011
A coop is a multiple dwelling that is incorporated. The shares of the corporation are owned by the various residents of the builidng and/or sponsor(s). Each owner is allocated a number of shares based on the size and other factors of their designated unit. So, the owners of a coop do not actually own the physical structure of their specific unit as they would in a condo, but rather they own shares in the overall corporation that owns the building and they are issued a "proprietary lease" for the unit they occupy.

The Board of Directors of the Coop is empowered to run the corporation much the same as any other business. Coop boards carry out the mandates of the building's owners as determined in meetings of the general share holders.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Jul 8, 2011
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