A Co-Ownerwhat?

January 24, 2011

I wrote in an earlier post that my home was quite low in price for the area. Before you start thinking I bought a dump, the reason my unit was priced much lower to similar in the area is simple - it's a co-ownership, not a condo.

When I first heard that the unit was a co-ownership, I assumed I knew what that was - I mean, I've watched 'Sex and the City' - Carrie lived in one, right? Wrong.  She lived in a co-operative, which is not the same as a co-ownership. Anyone else confused?

At the time I was looking I did a quick internet search (gotta love Google) so I'd have a basic understanding.  Below you'll find some of the differences and similarities between condos, co-ops and co-ownerships.  *Please note that these are as I understand them to be - if you're considering purchasing a co-ownership, please consult your real estate lawyer for all the details.


  • Each unit is a separate property which can be bought and sold
  • Condos can be mortgaged
  • Owners of the units in the building will also own shares in the common elements of the building that are proportionate to the size of their unit


  • The entire property is owned by a corporation
  • The 'buyer' of a unit owns shares in the corporation, and is granted exclusive rights to use that specific unit
  • Shares can be mortgaged
  • Buyers are not registered on title for the property
  • Generally most banks will not loan for a co-op, but some credit unions will


  • There is just one property, and all the owners are listed on the title for the property
  • Owners have a proportional share of the entire property and are given the exclusive right to occupy their unit
  • Shares can be mortgaged
  • Generally most banks will not loan for a co-ownership, but some credit unions will
One of the reasons that co-ownerships are generally less expensive than 'regular' condos is that financing can be difficult.  In order to qualify for my mortgage I needed to have 30% down - this cuts out a large portion the buyer demographic looking to move into a one-bedroom unit, which in turn drastically reduces demand.

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