What Is The Difference Between A Condominium And A Co-Op?


By: Christel Silver Special to the Boca and Delray newspapers

Condominiums and Cooperatives are a type of common ownership but they are very different and may be confusing.

Condominiums (Condos) are a form of separate ownership in a multi-unit building. Each owner has a fee simple ownership on his unit and all owners share the remainder of the building and the land as common elements.

A co-op is also a multi-unit building, but that’s where the similarities end. A co-op owner has a share in the entire building and a proprietary lease on an individual unit. While a condo owner owns a unit, a co-op owner does not own the unit. A co-op is not a real property—it is considered an intangible personal property.

The day-to-day life in both is very similar and you would not necessarily feel a difference. You can enjoy your lifestyle without cutting the grass, cleaning gutters, or repairing the roof.  Both are a great form of ownership for seasonal owners as they can lock the door when leaving and know that the common area is taken care of.

The first housing cooperatives arrived in New York in the late 1800s, and co-ops remain popular there, in Washington, DC and in Chicago. But we have co-ops in Palm Beach County also, especially in Palm Beach.

In 1958, The U.S. territory of Puerto Rico adopted condominium legislation, technically making it the first place in the United States known as The Horizontal Property Act. In 1960, Utah introduced condominium legislation, which was adopted in 1963.

Here are some things to consider when choosing condos and co-ops:

Co-ops tend to be cheaper per square foot, but it is difficult to obtain a mortgage. Some lenders do not offer co-op financing, and if they do, they also require a higher down payment.

In general condos and co-ops are cheaper than buying a house—there’s no grass to mow, and a multiunit building can provide a sense of security to the owner.

The disadvantages are the association’s rules and regulations. The monthly fees can be high and many people do not favor living within close proximity of a variety of people. But people sharing a multi-unit building can be positive, as they often help each other and look out for each other.

There are rules and regulations and bylaws to abide by, whether it is a condominium or co-op, and it is important that you read these documents before making a decision to purchase. Since many of the documents are legal documents you should consult an attorney for advice.

About Christel Silver

Christel Silver is a full time Broker/Owner of Silver International Realty servicing the East Coast of South Florida. In 1985 she was licensed in Maryland and Washington, DC as a Realtor and later as a Certified Residential Appraiser and Associate Broker and has been in Florida since 2001.She is the Global Ambassador for Austria and Germany in 2019. Fifty percent of her business is in the International arena. For more information visit www.silverhouses.com.