Hi Kay -
A Co-Op is a corporation, where all the shareholders are the owners of the properties included in the corporation. This is not the same as for a Condo complex. The number of shares granted to each shareholder is dependent on the size of the unit owner - i.e., a 3 bedroom unit owns more shares than a 2 bedroom, etc. As a corporation, you don't pay taxes directly for individual units - the corporation pays all taxes as a whole. Each unit (shareholder) pays a monthly fee to the corporation (common charges) that include taxes, debt interest & principal, insurance, service fees like water, sewer and sometimes electric and heating, property maintenance, garbage, etc. As a corporation, it gets to write off (deduct) from its taxes much of these operating expenses and capital expenses. This deduction is then passed down to all the shareholders. Many well run Co-Ops may have $1,000 (or less, or more) per month of common charges, but then have a 60% to 80% deduction on those expenses making for a very low operating cost for the shareholders. However, should a Co-Op have significant capital projects or heavy debt loading, there is less of a deduction for the shareholders which leads to higher monthly fees. The key is to understand a specific complexes financial standing and projected capital expenses. This way you can calculate your specific costs as a shareholder. Of course this element is also very important from a property value perspective. There are several Co-Op's in the area - some better than others. Search wisely and be sure to obtain full financial disclosure before purchasing.
I would be happy to help you in your search - just let me know.
Stephan von Jena
William Pitt Sotheby's International Realty
147 Rowayton Ave., Rowayton, CT 06853