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City dwellers looking to buy rather than rent an apartment may come across real estate listings categorized as “co-ops.” While co-ops can exist anywhere, Realtor.com notes that they are most common in big cities, comprising as much as 75 percent of the housing inventory in the borough of Manhattan in New York City.

Co-op is short for “cooperative,” and people who buy into a co-op are not technically buying property but shares in an entity that owns the property where investors will ultimately live.

The bigger the apartment in the building, the more shares the buyer will own. Residents of a co-op typically elect fellow residents to serve on the co-op board. That board is tasked with making a host of important decisions, including choosing who will and will not be allowed to join the cooperative.

Co-op boards may require that applicants meet certain financial requirements. Unlike buying a single-family home, duplex, townhouse, or condominium, people interested in buying into a co-op may have put down no less than 20 percent the value of the apartment where they hope to live.

Co-op dwellers will also be expected to pay monthly maintenance fees that go toward insurance, taxes and other building expenses

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