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  • Marc Rovner

Condo or co-op? It's a tossup.

Co-ops, are often confused with condos. Co-ops and condos are popular residential options on Long Island, with demand and increased valuation matching those of single-family homes, say real estate experts.

Here are some differences that might help you decide which option is right for you:

- A condominium is a single real estate unit in a multiunit development. When you buy a condominium, your unit, as well as a percentage of the common areas, belong to you.

With a co-op, however, you don't actually buy your apartment; instead, you are buying shares in a corporation. Co-ops tend to be less expensive to purchase, but buying one may require a rigorous approval process by the co-op board.

- The condo-co-op market offers a more affordable entree for first time homebuyers in Long Island’s superheated housing market and a low-maintenance, apartment-like lifestyle for singles and downsizing retirees looking to stay near old friends and family.

"The condo market is just as heated, if more so, than the single-family housing market," said Lisa Camarda, owner of Re/Max Reliance in Wantagh. Camarda said that a ranch-style condo in the 84-unit Stanford Court development in Wantagh, which listed for $500,000, drew 75 prospective buyers, prompting a bidding war and going to contract in early March in the mid-$500,000 range.

The median price for condos rose 52% to $365,000 in the past decade, according to a recent report from real estate brokerage Douglas Elliman and appraisal firm Miller Samuel. There were 4,430 condo sales last year, which was nearly 73% more than back in 2012.

Although condos and co-ops are often confused, "there is an intrinsic legal difference between them", Barasch said. "Condos are essentially the same legal kind of ownership as a single-family home in that you get your own deed and your own tax bill," Barasch said.

"With co-ops there’s only one tax bill for the entire development. You just pay your proportionate share through monthly maintenance fees. And there’s only one deed to the entire development."

Condos and co-ops have similarities in that you get your own space and a sense of homeownership, minus the surprise rent increases of apartment living and the upkeep required on a single-family home.

Furthermore, your ability to make home improvements may be restricted.

Thank you Jim Merritt from

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