COVID-19 and New York’s Cooperative Village

In co-ops big and small, where term limits are rare and lifers often make the rules, the sudden departure of even a few residents can have an outsize effect on governance, longstanding policies, even the vibe of a building. And while the virus might not have caused the shake-up, residents said, it has almost certainly hastened the change.

“Covid has really brought a lot of things to the surface,” said Christopher Totaro, a Warburg Realty agent and co-op board member. “It’s kind of like splinters that were festering.”

Cooperative housing, a corporate structure in which residents own shares of the property, is often considered a more affordable route to New York homeownership, in part because the buildings are generally older and have more restrictions than condos, with rules established by the shareholders.

Estimates vary because of the variety and corporate structure of co-ops, but citywide there are more than than 7,100 co-ops, according to the commercial brokerage Ariel Property Advisors, and many are entering a busy season of board meetings delayed by Covid. Their votes might determine if a hike in maintenance or other fees are needed; if a wave of new pandemic puppies can stay; if financing rules should be eased to improve sales; if subletting should be allowed; if parents can co-sign or pay toward an adult child’s down payment, and countless other quirks of shared homeownership in a slumping market.

Many co-ops are also facing lost income from ground-floor commercial tenants, like restaurants and retail shops that have fallen behind on rent.

About 1,136 co-ops citywide, or roughly 16 percent, recently had a commercial tenant, according to their analysis of public records. Some of those buildings, mostly in Manhattan and Brooklyn, may have to charge residents a temporary monthly fee or a permanent increase in maintenance to shore up lost funds. Big fees can be a major concern for older residents on fixed income, as well as sellers trying to compete in a crowded market.

View full article – Source: NY Times

By Stefanos Chen is a real estate reporter, based in New York. He joined The Times in 2017 after five years with The Wall Street Journal, where he was a reporter and multimedia producer. @stefanoschen

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