A phenomenon that's limited almost entirely to Manhattan, cooperative apartments have been the traditional form of owning an upscale apartment for close to a hundred years. In fact, in New York City, 85% of all apartments available for purchase - and almost 100% of the grand pre-war apartments on Fifth, Park and Central Park West - are in co-operative buildings. Co-ops are owned by an apartment corporation. When you purchase within a co-op building, you're purchasing shares of the corporation that entitle you, as a shareholder, to a "proprietary lease." Generally, the larger your apartment, the more shares of the corporation you own. Co-op shareholders contribute a monthly maintenance fee to cover the building expenses. The fee covers such items as heat, hot water, insurance, staff salaries, real estate taxes and the mortgage indebtedness of the building. Portions of the monthly maintenance fees are tax deductible due to the building's underlying mortgage interest. Also, shareholders can deduct their portion of the building's real estate taxes.
A co-op Board of Directors has the ability to determine how much of the purchase price may be financed and minimum cash requirements.Subleasing a co-op can be difficult. Each co-op has its own rules and they should be carefully reviewed prior to application to purchase.
All prospective purchasers must interview with the Board of Directors. Prior to the interview, prospective purchasers prepare a detailed "Board Package" which usually contains personal and professional letters of recommendation as well as a great deal of personal information concerning income and assets. The experience of your broker is invaluable. Your broker can help you find an apartment in a building that suits the needs of you and your family. In addition, your agent will help you prepare a package that you can confidently present to the Board of Directors once you've found the home that is right for you