PDF Everything You Need to Know Before Buying a Co-op,Condo, or Townhouse

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The association or board usually limits how you can alter your space. For instance, a co-op or condo owner can paint the interior of their unit any color they wish but the exterior must conform to outlined rules.

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The association or board might have the last word on your paint job. Condos appeal to investors who want to put their money in real estate to avoid market volatility. Condo owners can sublet their units, which is typically not allowed in co-ops. A co-op board can turn down a buyer based on any number of reasons, such as price offer or credit history. Given the pros and cons of both types of properties, the first step in figuring out which one is more viable for you is how long you plan on living in the space.

Since co-ops are cheaper upfront, long-term residents might end up saving quite a bit of cash in a co-op. Another potential benefit is the fact that co-ops essentially allow you to handpick your neighbors. In contrast, owning a condo might help you diversify your investment portfolio. While condominium bylaws may limit the number of renters in a complex, condo owners have the option of subletting their condo or selling.

Finally, be sure to carefully read the association or board rules. High-end units, for example, may forbid subleasing. All partners share in the costs of operating the building.

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A default by one partner may require the other partners to cover that partner's costs, although the strict ownership requirements generally keep defaults to a minimum. The structure of housing co-ops varies, depending on the specific country of its location. In the U.

In addition to the financial aspect of co-op ownership, there is also a social aspect that must be taken into account. Smaller co-ops are run strictly by the residents, with everyone pitching in to take care of duties, such as maintenance, landscaping, and setting rules.

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Large units may be run by a board of directors consisting of a subset of residents. In either case, there are rules to be followed and a certain degree of social interaction that takes place. If you don't like sharing decision-making authority, co-op living may not appeal to you. Because you're buying shares of a company, be sure to check out the company's financial situation and meet the company's shareholders. They'll be not only your business associates but also your neighbors.

Read the co-op's articles of incorporation , bylaws, subscription agreement , rules, and any other available documentation. Make sure you truly understand how the cooperative works, including how it is managed, what you will be required to pay for, and how much that payment will be.

Ask about the terms of any underlying mortgage, the policy toward pets, and your ability to make changes to your residence. There's no harm in asking questions; a little extra effort upfront can go a long way toward ensuring a harmonious long-term living arrangement.

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The following books can teach you practically everything you need to know about how to buy shares in a co-op and how to live and thrive as a co-operator. Sylvia Shapiro, a lawyer and board president of a major Manhattan apartment building, has written what will become required reading for anyone buying or selling an apartment, or curious about entering the fray of the co-op and condo market.

Shapiro answers all the questions apartment dwellers are afraid of asking the board, broker, lawyer, or accountant—and she does so without talking down or a steep hourly fee. Included are such topics as: Is the building right for you?

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How can you make the approval process go as smoothly as possible? Real Estate expert, Neil Binder, offers the newest A to Z techniques and strategies for buying and selling cooperative apartments and condominiums in the hottest real estate market in the world. It includes worksheets and financial and legal tips to help consumers find their best options.

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