The difference between a Condominium (Condo) and Cooperative Corporation (Co-Op) is often confused, however, the difference is relatively easy to understand.  First and foremost it should be noted that the difference has nothing to do with how the building looks.  If the difference between the two has nothing to do with how the units look, what does it have to do with?  The difference between a Condo and a Co-op has to do with the ownership structure.

What is a Condo?

Generally, in a condo ownership structure you own “sheet rock to sheet rock” and an equal piece of the general/common areas.  Put a little bit more formal by Wikipedia,

Typically, a condominium consists of multi-unit dwellings where each unit is individually owned and the common areas, such as hallways and recreational facilities, are jointly owned (usually as “tenants in common”) by all the unit owners in the building. It is also possible for condominiums to consist of single family dwellings: so-called “detached condominiums” where homeowners do not maintain the exteriors of the dwellings, yards, etc. or “site condominiums” where the owner has more control and possible ownership (as in a “whole lot” or “lot line” condominium) over the exterior appearance.

These types of properties usually cost more but have lower maintenance costs.

What is a Co-op?

A cooperative corporation is a bit different.  In this ownership structure the entire property is owned by one corporation and then each individual ‘property owner’ owns one share of the corporation.  Again, put formally,

Each resident or resident household has membership in the co-operative association. Members have occupancy rights to a specific suite within the housing co-operative as outlined in their “occupancy agreement”, or “proprietary lease” which is essentially a lease.

Since Co-Ops are corporations ran by corporate boards they are usually the type of ownership structure you hear about causing headaches when trying to sell or buy, because the board can deny who becomes a shareholder.   Additionally, Co-Ops often have lower selling prices but have higher maintenance costs.

What about Town Houses?

Town houses refer to just the style of the home.

How Easy is that explanation?!