I have to disclose at the onset that I love co-ops and co-ownerships. They offer an excellent option for people who want more space at a lower cost per square foot. These buildings were often built many years ago and often benefit from their age. Many are located in lovely, quiet neighbourhoods where developers would never be allowed to erect a condo in this day and age. They often have character features only found in older buildings and most were built when room sizes were larger than those found in new condos. Having said all of this, they aren't for everyone.

Let's look at some pros and cons:

 

Cons

  • They require 25% down payment and lenders are limited (DUCA Credit Union has been providing mortgages on Co-ops and Co-ownerships for years.
  • Buyers acquire a percentage of shares in the corporation which actually owns the building and exclusive use of their unit, hence the need for a larger down payment. 
  • Rarely do they have amenities.
  • Rarely do they have ensuite laundry. Usually the laundry is a shared facility. Many install washer/dryer combo units which do not vent to the outside but these units require alot of drying time and reports are that they are given to requiring repairs more often than a conventional washer and dryer would.
  • Because of the large down payment required they are unaffordable for many. A first time home buyer is unlikely to be able to afford such a large initial payment. The result of this is that the number of buyers available to purchase the property on resale may result in liquidity issues for those who own them. As well, these factors mean that they have not appreciated to the same degree as condos have in this city.

 

Pros

Co-op and Co-ownership buildings can be absolutely ideal, in my opinion, for downsizing seniors who usually can sell their homes and pay them off in full.

  • Maintenance fees usually include all costs, including heat, hydro and property taxes which makes budgeting so much easier.
  • The large size of the units make downsizing much less painful.
  • They often offer architectural interest - some of these buildings are, I think, quite beautiful.
  • Co-ops and Co-ownerships, as mentioned are sometimes located in very well to do neighbourhoods like Forest Hill so their owners don't feel banished to the world of cement and towers.
  • The selling price is much lower than condos leaving you with much more money to augment a pension if you sell your home to downsize to this kind of living.

 

Caveats

Where would we be without caveats? Having enthused over this kind of home ownership I need to point out one thing to be aware of. Not unlike any other kind of home there must be enough money in the bank to see to ongoing upkeep of the building. Some Co-ops and Co-ownership buildings have failed to manage their money well in the past (although the same can be said for some Condos). Never, and I mean never, enter into a sales agreement without having a condition in your offer which allows your lawyer to look at the financials of the corporation (true also for Condo purchase). The laws governing Co-Ops and Co-Ownerships are not the same as those that govern Condos.  In this kind of ownership all lawyers are not created equal. Make sure your agent is aware of which lawyers really know this kind of home purchase as I do. Like any other kind of home purchase it is important to use a Real Estate Salesperson who understands this area of real estate and how it differs from other kinds of living.

 

Having said all I've said, if your interest is not the small and modern and you like the idea of Co-ops and Co-ownership living, give me a call. The best thing to do is get all the facts and then pop out to have a look at a few of these properties with me. They may not be for you but they are worth exploring.


Co-operatives Explained

CO-OPERATIVE (No Shared Liability)

  • Co-operative Corporation is the only registered owner of property (registered on title); purchaser does not own unit
  • Purchaser has long term, exclusive use of individual unit through a I A-ase, or Occupancy Agreement, not a Deed.
  • Purchaser acquires shares in the Co-operative Corporation and is a shareholder in the Corporation.
  • Purchaser becomes a member of the Co-operative Corporation which:
  • (a)owns and manages the affairs of the building on behalf of the Shareholders according to the Co-operative/ Shareholder/ Occupancy Agreement, the Corporation’s By-laws, and/or private contracts, and the Rules and Regulations;
  • (b)grants exclusive occupation right; to shareholders of a specific unit; and,
  • (c)represents the interests of the Shareholders.
  • Purchaser can finance the unit, using their shares and leasehold interest in the unit, only if there is no prohibition on pledging shares as security. Only a few lending institutions finance these types of purchases of shares and/or grant loans on these types of properties.
  • Purchaser is assessed for a percentage share (based on the size of unit in comparison to the whole building) of common expenses.
  • Purchaser pays for their percentage share of property taxes as a part of their monthly common expenses. The Co-operative Building is assessed and taxed as one structure.
  • No legislation requiring a Capital Reserve Fund to be established for maintenance of building. Most Co-operative Corporations do have a Capital Reserve Fund for maintenance of building. No legislation exists requiring or outlining requirements for a Reserve Fund Study. No legislation exists requiring compliance with the recommendations of a Reserve Fund Study.
  • Purchaser can participate in management decisions by sitting on the Board of Directors and voting as a Shareholder of the Co-operative Corporation at the General Annual Meetings.
  • Purchaser is subject to the Co-operative/Shareholder/ Occupancy Agreements, Rules and Regulations, and By-laws of the Co-operative Corporation and other contractual documentation.
  • Purchaser needs consent of the Board of Directors of the Co¬operative Coition/ton to sell shares, assign Lease for unit and to rent unit, which is not unreasonably withheld. There is the odd exception. Additionally, consent is required to pledge shares as security.
  • Purchase of a unit should be subject to receipt of an Estoppel Certificate which identifies any outstanding or pending payments, assessments, or legal actions, re-. the unit or Corporation together with all other documents which are included.
  • Co-operative Corporations may have yearly audited Financial Reports issued to all shareholders and are self-managed or managed by a professional Management Company or self-managed.

Co-ownerships Explained

Co-Ownership Explained

Purchaser obtains ownership of a percentage interest by a deed.
Purchaser gains exclusive right to occupy a specific unit through a registered Co-Ownership Agreement and the provisions of the Co-ownership Agreement
Purchaser obtains ownership of a percentage interest in the common areas of the building.
Purchaser becomes a member of the Co-Ownership Corporation which:
(A) Manages the affairs of the building according to the Co-ownership Agreement ,the Corporation By Laws and/ or private contracts.
 (B) represents the interest of the owners
 Purchaser can individually Finance Her /His own unit
Purchaser is assessed for a percentage share (based on the size of the unit is comparison to the whole building) of common expenses.
Co-Ownership Agreement requires a reserve monetary fund to be established for maintenance of the building.
 Purchase can participate in management decisions by sitting on the Board of Directors and voting at annual General meetings
 Purchaser is subject to the Co-Ownership Agreement Rules and By Laws and other contractual documentation of the Co-Ownership Corporation.
 Purchaser does not need consent of the other co-owners or Co-Ownership Corporation to sell or rent or mortgage his/her unit
 Sale of unit subject to a receipt of an Estoppel Certificate which identifies any outstanding or pending payments , assessments or legal actions, re: the unit or corporation
Co-Ownerships have yearly audited Financial Reports issued to all owners and are managed by a professional Management Company.
 
Information Supplied by:
 "Martin Rumack" Barrister & Solicitor  416 961 3441