Condos and Co-Ops
updated March 28, 2024

Condominiums (condos) and cooperatives (co-ops) are housing options for people who want to live with others in a community setting and want to share ownership in the place where they live.

What They Are

Condos and co-ops are ways of sharing ownership of a set of residences. By sharing ownership, you form a community while helping each other with responsibilities such as upkeep.

  • In a condo, you:
    • Own the specific unit or house you live in
    • Have a share in and a right to use common areas like hallways, elevators, gardens, and swimming pools
  • In a co-op, you:
    • Own a share in everything, but do not specifically own the unit or house you live in
    • Have the right to live in a specific unit as long as you don’t break the co-op’s rules
    • May be able to change units if another is available

Condos and co-ops do not usually include services like cooking, cleaning, personal care assistance, or skilled nursing. If you need services like these, you can get them separately. See HB101's Services article to learn more about the sorts of services you can get and to see whether Medical Assistance (MA) might help you pay for them.

How You Pay

To join ownership in a condo or co-op, you must make two kinds of payments:

  • A large initial payment
    • With a condo, you make what is called a down payment.
    • With a co-op, you purchase what is called a share.
  • Ongoing payments each month
    • With a condo, you pay the condo association for upkeep of the common areas and the lender from which you got your mortgage loan.
    • With a co-op, you pay the cooperative an amount that depends on the unit you live in. If you got a loan to purchase the initial share, you will also make a monthly mortgage payment to your lender.

Getting Help with Payments

If you buy a condo or get a share in a cooperative, many of the same programs that help homeowners can help you with your payments:

  • Section 8 Homeownership Program:
    • A Section 8 voucher helps pay for your monthly mortgage. If you buy a condo through this program, you pay about 30% of your family’s monthly income towards your mortgage.
  • Loan Programs:
    • Federal Housing Administration (FHA) loans are insured by the federal government and can help you buy with a lower down payment.
    • 208 loans let you take out a mortgage greater than the home’s value, so you can make accessibility modifications to it.
    • VA loans are for military veterans. Many programs help people buying their first home.
    • Share loans for cooperatives work differently and you need to speak with local lenders about them.
  • Down Payment Programs:
    • Some local governments and some lenders help people with their down payments on condominiums.
  • Individual Development Accounts (IDAs):
    • These accounts let people with low income and low assets save up some money to purchase housing.
  • Foreclosure Help:

Finding a Condo

To find a condo, use a realtor (also called a real estate agent). You can do some research on your own online, but in order to buy a place, you’ll need this professional help.

A realtor should:

  • Know about first-time buyer programs
  • Connect you with an appropriate lender or loan program, and
  • Help you find a condo that meets your needs.

If you have a disability, make sure to find a realtor who is sensitive and responsive to your situation and needs. Ask your friends and family members if they can recommend a realtor.