What’s the Difference Between a Condo and a Co-Op in New York City?

If you’re looking to get out of the rental market, buying a home isn’t just a great alternative, it’s a great investment. But if you’re in New York City, it can be a real challenge to find the right space.


One of the first decisions you need to make concerns the kind of home you’d like to invest in: a condominium or a cooperative apartment, also known as a co-op. Below we’ll break down the differences between a co-op and a condo, and discuss your insurance options.

The Difference between Condominiums and Cooperative Apartments

Typically similar in structure to apartment buildings, condos are a grouping of adjoined housing units. However, that’s about where the similarities between condos and traditional apartments end.


In a condo unit, you own everything walls in, so you don’t have to worry about a landlord prohibiting you from painting your walls or hanging up shelves, for instance. With that said, although you might have the freedom to do with your unit as you wish, many condominium buildings also have requisites and restrictions, commonly enforced by a condo board.


Most condos are more expensive than co-ops, include annual maintenance and amenity fees, and some buildings even have age requirements, or limitations on renting out units. Rules and regulations aside, another perk of living in a condo is that you’ll also get to enjoy any shared facilities the building has to offer, such as gyms, pools, dog parks, or tennis courts.


Co-ops, like condos, are a group of living spaces that are adjoined to one another. When you’re a co-op owner, you’ve purchased shares in the cooperative corporation that owns the building, rather than the unit itself. As such, co-ops are maintained and operated by their owners and, therefore, if you become a member owner, your responsibilities may include community-wide duties such as deciding on new members, building maintenance and repairs, as well as other day-to-day tasks.


According to the New York Times, many prospective property owners in NYC opt for co-ops because many of them are more historic buildings, and the strict requirements for getting approved mean that the corporations tend to be financially secure. On the other hand, property seekers may prefer condominiums because more and more condo buildings are being developed in NYC. Take into consideration which neighborhood you’d like to buy property in, as areas like TriBeCa tend to have more condos for sale, while neighborhoods like the Upper East Side have considerably more co-ops available in the market.

Insuring Your New Home

Many condominium associations and cooperative corporations have their own insurance policies, called “master policies,” that vary in degrees of coverage. While location might affect the level of coverage available, there’s no real rhyme or reason to the variation of coverage from condo to condo.


With this in mind, make sure you carefully read through your community’s policy to see how much responsibility falls on the building and how much you’ll need to shoulder in the event of structural damage to your unit. For instance, if there’s a fire in your unit, is that covered by your building’s insurance, or does the policy only protect exterior walls and shared spaces, like the lobby or the parking garage?


Since your building’s master policy won’t cover you or your property, it’s a good idea to consider an insurance policy specifically for condominium and co-op owners. It’s the only way to make sure that you’re protected in the event of damages or accidents.


Having NYC condo insurance means you can be covered for a wide range of events and losses, like:

    • Theft


    • Fire


    • Wind


    • Personal liability


    • Damage to property belonging to other residents


    • Limited water damage


  • Hotel bills and other living expenses while your unit is being repaired after a covered loss occurs


A policy like this will also protect all of the belongings inside your unit, not just the unit itself, providing you with much needed peace of mind during the stressful moving process.


Now that you know the difference between a condominium and a cooperative apartment in NYC, you can make a more informed buying decision. Discuss your situation with one of our licensed insurance agents to find out what kind of policy you’ll need and how much insurance will adequately cover your new investment.

More articles:

Return to blog