I am not a fan of Co-ops.
As a first time buyer, you will need an incredible credit score, and nearly cash to purchase a co-op. Very few mortgage companies will finance them with a mortgage. A co-op is set up where you do not own the property, but own shares of it. Everything has to be approved by a board of directors. They are pretty difficult to sell because the board has to approve not only the people, but their financial situation as well.
This can cause many people to want to buy it, but few actually will be allowed to.
If you buy an investment property, you will own the structure and land. There will be no board to approve or dissaprove of anything. You will get a deed for that specific property, and be able to choose who YOU want to sell the property to. New FHA guidlines have been set up so you can be a first time buyer, and finance up to 1.4 million for a four family house/building. (well ,that is the way it is in NJ). You can live in it, collect rent, claim depreciation on your taxes and write off home improvement on your taxes. ( I am not an accountant or Attorney, but consult one regarding these issues)
Own! Now is the time to buy, and you can take advantage of many programs to make this idea come alive for you!
Hope this helps.
Good luck, and have a great day.