This is a Co-op                         


What is the difference between a Condominium and a Co-op? Look at the above photo. Is it a photo of A Condo, a Co-op, or is it merely an apartment building? The answer is that it is a Co-op complex. Externally you cannot tell if a building is a Condo, Co-op, or just a rental complex. This particular building is located in the Rogers Park area on Lunt Ave just west Of Lake. Hello, my name is Charles McShan, a Real Broker with Century 21 Universal. Welcome to my latest blog post. This blog post is finding out the difference in a Condo way of living opposed to co-op way of living

The other day I was showing my client some Condos for sale in Chicago, and she asked me this question. Is this property a Co-op or a Condo? I informed her that this property was not a Co-op. There are plenty of homebuyers who know about Co-ops while there are many who never heard of the word. With this blog post, I will address the difference between a condo and a co-op. The term co-op is short for the phrase cooperative.

    The majority of homebuyers typically buy a single-family home. In urban areas like Chicago, where congestion is more significant, homebuyers well also consider purchasing a condo a townhouse, and a small fraction will even consider purchasing a co-op. The term co-op is the abbreviated form for the word cooperative or a housing cooperative. When you are thinking about buying a home, there are two main things you must consider.

The majority of people would say the price of the home is first, and that will not be true. Sure, you want the amount to be right. But what good is a priced right home, but you are not happy because of the imposed restrictions That comes with that home. So first things first. If you are interested in buying a property and you want to be King/Queen of your castle. You must first decide the lifestyle you want to live within those premises. If you can agree to the rules that govern the complex where you are thinking about purchasing, then the next step would be the selling price of the house.

What Is The Difference Between A Condo And A Co-op?

So let’s get right into this subject of what a co-op is.  In New York City co-op living is a way of life. They also exist in other major cities. They come in a variety of housing types and sizes, depending upon the rules of the local area. The State of Illinois along with the city of Chicago has its fair share of co-ops. In Chicago, they are located in the Northside Rogers Park area (see photo above), the Lakeview area, Downtown, and on the Southside of the city. Typically the older co-ops in Chicago are located in older, elegant high rise buildings. Depended on the building, the square footage of the unit could be massive, and sometimes 1 or 2 units take up a complete floor. Newer style buildings look like ordinary high rises you could never tell the difference.

 So let’s break it down. What is a co-op? A co-op building is owned by an apartment corporation, not the homebuyers. When you buy into co-op living, you buy the right to live in your apartment by purchasing shares in a corporation. These shares in the corporation entitle you to a long term proprietary lease, which is valid if you pay your maintenance fee and follow the regulations of the corporation. 

  The corporation then uses the maintenance to pay the building’s mortgage, real estate taxes along with all employee salaries and upkeep of the building. The tenant-owner pays a share of these expenses as determined by the number of shares the tenant. The size of the apartment determines how many shares owned.

 A managing agent is known as the Superintendent is hired by the corporation to run the building. He/she employs workers to maintain the upkeep of the building. Board of Directors is elected by the tenant-owners to supervise and control the management of the corporation. The building itself is set up to be the corporation because it does not derive a profit from its operation.

 Here are some of the differences between condos and co-ops. Co-ops are very exclusive, and they are set up that away. You will be buying into a particular way of life. The tenant owners living there reserve the right to exclude people they do not deem worthy. If you need to take out a mortgage to purchase housing in the co-op, the loan you receive will not be a mortgage. It will be a loan to buy shares. Typically they will require a down payment between 10 and 20%, or they might want you to pay cash all upfront. 

The waiting time for approval can be over six months, and you still could be rejected. This rejection would hurt both the buyer and seller. You can do minor repairs on your unit, but any significant renovations will require board approval. You can not sublease your unit without board approval, and investors are not tolerated. Each building has its own set of rules and regulations, and they can tell you what you can and cannot do in your unit.

  There are three basic types of co-op structures. They are 

1:Market rate


3:Group -equity

What are the differences? I will let you do your due diligence and find out what they are. That, for better or worse, is the meaning of a co-op. It is a home you don’t technically own, and they can be hard to sell. It is a way of life for many in New York City and some in Chicago. Here in Chicago, a lot of co-ops are located in luxury high structures built decades ago. Baby boomers with money loved that elegant way of living. The millennials of today are the opposite; they shun that way of elegant living their grandparent’s love. Here is an article highlighting that exact subject. The past and the present form of life colliding with the past losing. As a transportation expert, I have taken many people to these addresses an had no idea of the rich history located inside those walls. If you buy a co-op, it might be hard to sell in the future. Read about this but selling attempts of this Lincoln Park  co-op by clicking the link  here.>>

Co-op living is a unique form of homeownership. Is that form of homeownership agreeable to you?

The Condo/Townhome/Single Family Homes with Restrictions!

I say mainstream because these other forms of home ownership minus one are is the typical way of buying a home. This section will not take long because we are all familiar with the process. It is just the different ways you own the property. Let’s briefly examine them.

1:The Condominium

     When compared with the co-op, you see the differences. You own your apartment outright, and you also own the common areas along with everyone else in the complex. You can renovate your unit as you wish, the restrictions vary. If you live in a high rise, you might be mandated to have the same draperies or blinds as every other Condo owner for uniformity purposes. The condo owner has the option to rent out there unit. They pay their taxes, mortgage, and pay association dues to maintain the upkeep of the building and the common areas.

2:The Townhome

  Townhomes are individual houses that are placed side by side with shared walls. Unlike Condos, there are no units above them. There are townhomes out there that are classified as being Condos. With condominium ownership, you only own the inside of the Townhome. Like a condo, the exterior of your home and yard will be covered by the HOA fees. 

On the other hand, If you have the fee-simple type of ownership, your Townhome is yours 100%. You are responsible for the inside and outside, including front, back, and side yards. If you are thinking about buying a townhome, do your research and see what type of ownership is Condo or Fee simple. While you are doing your research, also ask your self this question. Can you and your family members live under the rules and regulations of the associations which govern these complexes?

     If you think co-ops are restrictive, there are plenty of stories of Condos and homeowner associations being controlled by dominating personalities. I wrote a blog on that subject last year. Please read it before you make any decisions. Click here >.

The TIC! What is That?

In certain parts of the country, such as in San Francisco, those cities forbid turning homes into condos or co-ops. They have a form of homeownership called TIC or Tenancy in Common. This form of ownership allows you to own a percentage in the entire property. You could, for example, buy 50% of a unit building, and you and the other owner would draw up a Tenant in Common agreement. That agreement will specify how you will divide the property and how you will share the yard. This form of ownership will have its challenges, so where this is in operation, I would advise you to contact a Real Estate Broker and Real estate attorney who are experts in this field, and together they can guide you thru it.


So did you learn the difference between a condo and a co-op? It is the form of ownership and the pluses and minuses that come along with each type of purchase. You must decide what kind of investment will suit you and your lifestyle. If, after reviewing these options, you say none of these fit my lifestyle, then you still have the number 1 option available.

The Single-Family Home!

That option is the single-family home. Those words say it all. Very few restrictions exist with this type of ownership. But I do know one limitation. I live in the city of Chicago. This city, along with the surrounding Suburbs have laws that state even if you are a homeowner, you cannot park your commercial vehicle on the street by your home and in some areas, not even in your driveway. You Chicago contractors and cab /limo drivers know that by the tickets you have received, right? As a  single-family homeowner, you can plant a wide variety of plants, and no HOA is telling them to keep their plants trimmed at a certain level or face a fine. Look at this photo of a West Ridge single-family home with all its plants.

The West Ridge area, along with Rogers Park is my base of operations. The other day I found myself on Chase street between Wolcott and Honore. I have never been on that part of the road before, and I was very impressed. On this one quiet block was a lovely stretch of beautiful homes all painted in various colors that complimented each home. I got out of the car and made a brief video to share with you. I hope you enjoy it, but I want you to pay attention to the end. At the end of the video, you will see a single-family home with yellow trim around the windows and doors.No one could ever tell these homeowners to conform and to paint all their homes in 1 neutral color. Check this Rogers Park block of Chase Ave. out here>>

So those are the options or choices you have for homeownership. The majority of people not able to buy a single-family home will have to live under certain restrictions. Now some people might say I do not care about restrictions. I am going to buy the property and do what I want to do and live my life the way I see it. If you are one of those rebellious types, go right ahead. Lawyers love people like you. They will represent you, make money off you, and in the end, you will pay the fines. Maybe you will be forced to move. So, will it be worth it? Before you make that decision, please read this article. >.

What is the bottom line here? Respect those restrictions. The homeowners living there obey them, so must you. If you do not like the rules of a specific property, look for another one with fewer restrictions. Despite low inventory, the housing market is Hot! Individual homes are being sold in under 60 days. This recent article deals with the housing market as it applies today. Please click here.>               

Was The Main Question Of This Blog Post Answered?

 We now know the differences between a condo and a co-op. Each option describes a different way of living. I hope I have brought out the pluses long the minuses. For the people who are deciding to purchase a new home, you must determine what sort of homeownership will work for your individual way of living. The choices are simple. Condos, Co-ops, TIC, Townhomes, and planned communities with single-family homes all come with built-in restrictions. Can you live by those restrictions? Good. If not, then seek to purchase a single-family home. 

      That single-family home will be the best option for those who chose to live their own way and they want their residences to reflect that lifestyle. But keep in mind unless you are living on an island by yourself,  there will always be rules that govern us. That’s is a fact of life in a civilized world. So do your homework, what form of homeownership will fit your lifestyle, and then act on it. If you are in the Chicagoland area, I will be here for you. 7300 N.Western ave. in Chicago Ill. is where my office is located. Call me so we can talk about it. If you can’t come to my office. I will come to you. For the homebuyers out there, I have a whole team of mortgage experts ready and able to help you. One of my mortgage experts just sent me this new marketing flyer poster of both me and him. Please click here  >

On A Personal Note!

   My past blog posts covered various subjects such as buying and selling homes, Last month I had my thoughts on these matters placed into book form. Subjects such as buying or selling a home. For the expired listing owner, I wrote how to sell the unsellable home. I have a book for the For sale by owner and an upcoming book on how to help divorce couples sell there home. With all the emotion involved there selling their home will be no easy task. A realtor representing a party in a divorce must stay emotionally neutral. Being emotionally neutral is one qualification a Realtor must-have. These books are in limit quantity so if you are seriously considering buying or selling your home after a personal conversation I will furnish you with a personal copy.

Local News!

  Locally the coronavirus has affected everyone’s way of life. The Chicago Board of Education has decided to start the school fall semester with online classes. The beaches are still close, baseball is playing in emptying stadiums and downtown resembled a ghost town. The Bud Billiken parade was canceled for the first time in history on the South Side of the city. Monday, July 10th the city of Chicago we woke to reports of stores being looted again in certain areas of the city. The day was capped off with severe Thunderstorms, wind micro-burst, an F-1 Tornado in The Rogers Park area. I was in my office when the storm passed by and it was not a pretty sight It left in its wake, tree damage, and electrical blackouts throughout the city and suburbs. 

   I want to close this blog post with a video of a newly created woodland park in West Ridge named The West Ridge Natural Area. Located at 5801 N Western Ave. This park features a loop around trail surrounded by various species of plants and flowers. Whenever I drove Northbound crossing the intersection of Western and Ardmore I would look to the right and see this fenced-in recently developed area. So today, July 10th after the storm left the area I decided to park my car, go inside this park and shoot a 4-6 minute video. Boy was I wrong! This park was bigger than I expected! It took over 30 minutes to encircle the whole park and I videotaped it all.

    This was my first video for over 4 minutes. I wanted the video to speak for itself so I didn’t speak nor did I  add music. I wanted you to hear the urban sounds of the city as they meshed with the sounds of crickets and birds in the background inside the park. I later added brief texts to high-light certain parts of the video. Do you power walking? Then try it out with you/your spouse and your kids. I thought I had left Chicago and was transported to the Botanical gardens on Lake Cook road or the Botanical Gardens right next to the Bronx zoo in New York City. Go to 5801 N.Western ave and explore it for yourself it will be worth it. If you can’t make it there in person then let me be your tour guide, check out the video. Do not forget to activate the close caption button. Pass this video on.  The West Ridge area of Chicago has a lot to see.  Thank you for reading this blog, May God bless you and until the next time stay

                                                         Charles McShan


                                                          Website                                                               Facebook                                                               Pinterest   https:/www./      




The link for the video is right below