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Condos and Co-ops: What's the Difference?

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By : Andy Asbury    99 or more times read
From the outside looking in, it’s impossible to tell whether a building is home to condos or to a housing cooperative (better known as a co-op). While both condos and co-ops afford people a place to live and can provide convenient access to amenities like swimming pools and workout rooms, there are some major differences.

When you buy a condo, you own your living space – just as a person who owns a single-family home owns that structure. Condo buildings also have a variety of areas that are considered public and shared by all who own units in the building. The same is true in co-ops. When you buy into a co-op, you have a space to live, but rather than buying the piece of property, you’re actually buying into the corporation that owns the building in which your unit it located. That corporation generally is made up of all the people who live in the building.

Condo owners make a monthly payment to their association. That money is used to pay for a variety of things, including maintenance of public areas and, generally, for garbage service, sewer and water. And unless they pay cash, condo owners take out a mortgage to buy their home. People who live in co-ops also make monthly payments for their share of the utilities and other maintenance necessities, but rather than set amounts, these payments often fluctuate based on usage. They also take out share loans, rather than mortgages. They still pay the lender back, but use the money to buy “shares” in the co-op.

Anybody who wants to live in a condo can do so – so long as they can get a mortgage to buy their unit and agree to abide by the rules of the condo homeowners association. So long as prospective buyers can do both, the other residents in a condo unit have no say in who lives there. That’s not the case in co-ops. The people who live there determine who can buy shares and live in the unit. They may only allow people of certain financial means to live there, or of certain age ranges.

People who own units in a condo building generally have the ability to sublet – or rent – their unit to other people, subject to any association rules. Again, the other owners have no say in who rents so long as the rules are followed. Since condos tend to make good rental properties, especially when they’re located around colleges or universities, for example, some people invest in them specifically for that purpose. Co-ops can – and often do – prohibit such activity.
Search the most comprehensive directory of Minneapolis condos at today. Not all Minneapolis condominiums are considered equal, contact Andy Asbury to make sense of the Twin Cities condo market.

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