Happy house hunting first of all! There are three different types of properties that fall under this category: coops, condos and HOA's. Coop stands for cooperative which means that instead of actually owning the unit you live in, you own shares of a coop corporation that allows you to live in a particular unit. The "maintenance charges" include property taxes, insurance, property upkeep, etc. In a condo, you actually own the unit you live in - basically from the walls inward. You usually don't own the land underneath or around the unit. The "common charges" are usually merely for the insurance for the entire development, maintenance charges such as snow removal, grass cutting. If there are any major renovations/repairs such as new roofs and the like, they will have a separate assessment that the members of the development will split. In an HOA (homeowners association), you actually own the unit, the ground under the unit and many times some of the property around the unit. The common charges usually are only for things like snow removal, grass cutting, etc. and you are responsible for repairs on your own unit. Good luck.
Certified Buyer Representative
Senior Real Estate Specialist
Century 21 Princeton Properties
In a coop, each owner owns shares in the corporation. The shares entitle a person to occupy a specific unit. However, the corporation is the owner of the building. And that includes the unit you're living in.
In a condominium, each owner actually owns his or her own unit. In addition, there is a condominium association, composed of all the owners in the condominium. The association will own the common areas--for instance, in a large building that'd include the lobby, the elevators, and the common grounds.
As a practical matter, a coop imposes more restrictions on buying and selling, since the coop (through its board) can make a decision whether or not someone can buy the shares that would, in turn, entitle him/her to live there. In a condo, if you and the seller agree, you just buy the place.
One other point: "Condo" and "coop" have nothing to do with the physical structure of the building. Many people think of condos or coops as tall building, like converted apartment buildings. Some are. But you can have condo or coop garden apartments. You can have condo or coop townhouses. And you can even have condo (and I guess coop) single-family homes.
Both coops and condos can be pretty restrictive in what you can and can't do. It all depends on who's serving on the board. I've lived in a number of condos (no coops), and they've ranged from dictatorial to relaxed. One tip: Make sure you read the rules and regulations and other condo (or coop) documents before buying.
Hope that helps.
The â€œcondoâ€ advantage of individual unit ownership can be compared to the benefit of being able to â€œchooseâ€ your neighbors in a â€œco-opâ€ setting, where the application process is very often quite selective. In the sale of a â€œcondoâ€, once a price is agreed upon, the deal is done; whereas the â€œsaleâ€ of a â€œco-opâ€ requires approval by the Board of Directorsâ€”which can be (and often is) withheld based upon arbitrary selection criteriaâ€”with no recourse to the buyer or seller if the â€œsaleâ€ is not approved. â€œCo-opâ€ ownership represents an â€œinterestâ€ (i.e. stock) in realty; â€œcondoâ€ ownership is actual ownership of realty. Price differences reflect demographic and geographic distinctions. You decide whatâ€™s best for you.