The Differences In Buying A Condo Versus A Co-op

The Differences In Buying A Condo Versus A Co-op

Some definitions from the owning/buying viewpoint:

Cooperative (co-op)

  • A type of multiple ownership in which the residents of a multi-unit housing complex own shares in the cooperative corporation that owns the property, giving each resident the right to occupy a specific apartment or unit.


  • A type of ownership in real property where all of the owners own the property, common areas and buildings together, with the exception of the interior of the unit to which they have title. Often mistakenly referred to as a type of construction or development, it actually refers to the type of ownership.

Some more specifics:

Condos you own everything between your 4 walls as your own, you also own part of the common areas with every other unit owner in your condo building. For a Co-op, the building is on leased land and will always revert back to the land owner…meaning, any improvements you do to the unit will eventually go back to the original owner. You own the right to a specific unit and you also own “shares” in the company that owns the whole thing.

There are only 2 co-op buildings in Arlington: Ingleside and River Place.

Some things you should know in CURRENT (as of 11/16/10) financing of both:

  • FHA Loans, which require only a minimum down-payment of 3.5% can ONLY be used on condos, not co-ops.
  • You can purchase a condo with any other down-payment or loan program, if you wish and qualify.
  • Co-opĀ purchasesĀ REQUIRE a minimum 10% down-payment, of which 5% must be YOUR own money (not gifted funds).

Note: buying a condo and coop have identical processes, except in order to buy a co-op you must partake in a Board interview prior to closing. You must get approval to buy into the building.

Note: many co-ops have restrictions on renting your unit, so if you’re thinking of buying it as an investment, you may want to explore the restrictions prior to writing an offer.

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