How to Buy a Co-op

by Janey Lewis ; Updated July 27, 2017

When you buy a co-op, which is short for cooperative housing project, you are not the owner of your apartment. Instead, a corporation is the owner, and you are a stockholder. Besides a mortgage, you must also pay a monthly co-op fee. This allows the corporation to pay property taxes and take care of maintenance. It's similar to a condo, but in a co-op, the building's board of directors will have to vote and approve you as a member of the cooperative.

Step 1

Work with a Realtor who has experience in co-op buying. He can assist you with finding properties with good histories, and he knows how to guide you through the approval process.

Step 2

Hire a real estate attorney who is familiar with co-ops. You may need an accountant, since the co-op board has the right to request proof that you are financially stable.

Step 3

Read carefully the co-op's Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions, also known as CC&Rs. Can you sublet your apartment? What about pets? What types of repairs does your CC&R cover? Have your attorney review the document, and don't hesitate to ask questions. Each state has a law stating how many days you have to study the CC&R. Make sure the document contains information on the co-op's bylaws and a current financial statement.

Step 4

Prepare to come clean about your own financial picture. The co-op board has the right to ask for your recent tax returns, investment statements, salary information, a credit report and even a background check. You have to show you are responsible and can pay maintenance fees and taxes, as well as afford the mortgage.

Step 5

Check out the zoning around the co-op. If it surrounded by other apartments buildings or condos, or if the close buildings are reputable business sites, you're probably OK. But if there is a lot of empty land or buildings in the neighborhood, read zoning laws and inquire about future developments. Sketchy neighbors can bring down the value of your new home.

Step 6

Realize the co-op board makes the final decision about whether you get the property or not. By law, the board cannot discriminate against you; however, it is not required to explain a rejection.

Tips

  • Ask the co-op board about a flip tax. Some co-ops assess a charge if you sell your apartment within the first few years of ownership.

About the Author

Janey Lewis is a seasoned writer and public relations expert with more than 20 years of writing and PR experience. A graduate of Auburn University with a degree in journalism, she has been a newspaper reporter, project manager for a PR firm and press secretary to a U.S. Congressman on Capitol Hill.

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