Once you’ve made the decision to buy a home, it’s important to consider which kind of property is best for you, based on what you can afford and how much time you are willing to commit to maintaining it. There are several home-owning options to consider in New York City: single-family home, multi-family home, condo, or co-op.
A single-family home is typically comprised of a single unit with a yard space, giving you the most privacy out of all of the housing types. Single-family homes require more maintenance and commitment, because you are the sole proprietor and are therefore responsible for anything that happens to the home and the land.
A multi-family home is similar to a single-family home. Like a single-family home, when you purchase a multi-family home you are buying both the property and the land. The home is usually divided into two to four units, all with separate meters that can be rented out to tenants. Multi-family homes are more expensive, but with the option of renting out units, the added income can help cover your monthly mortgage payment. Keep in mind this also means more responsibility, since you act as a landlord to tenants in your home. You’ll have to consider if you want to invest the time and energy to do so.
A condominium, or condo, is an individual unit within a multi-unit building. Condos usually have shared wall spaces with other units in the building, giving you less privacy than a single-family home. With a condo, you pay a monthly fee to the Homeowner’s Association (HOA) for the upkeep of the complex and its common areas. Since you will be paying HOA fees, you do not have to worry about maintaining the building yourself, as the building managing hires staff to handle upkeep. Keep in mind that monthly expenses might be higher for condos because property taxes are not included in the monthly mortgage payment and are directly billed to the unit.
A co-op, like a condominium, is an individual unit within a building. However, with a co-op you do not actually own the unit; rather, you are buying shares of the corporation that owns the building complex which gives you exclusive use of that individual unit. Although co-op’s are generally more affordable than other homeownership options, a co-op’s approval process can be lengthy because a board has to approve the buyer, and can reject the purchase for whatever reason they feel is justified by law. In addition, the co-op board can enforce certain rules that may limit how you can use, remodel, or renovate your unit. You or your attorney should review the corporation’s documents carefully before you decide to submit an application.
Whether you choose to buy a single family or a co-op, know that each option comes with different demands. A housing counselor can help you consider the benefits of each of the housing options to help you decide which is the best for you. Contact the Homeowner Hub to get connected to a housing counselor who can help with your decision.