The differences between condos, townhomes and co-ops can be confusing when you're a buyer. Use this cheat sheet to help you sort them out.
Description: Usually composed of multiple units that are owned by individual residents. Condos are often found in high-rise structures, although they can also be part of lower-profile buildings.
Ownership structure: Condos use a type of joint ownership of real property in which portions of the property (such as hallways) are commonly owned and other portions (the interior units themselves, for example) are individually owned.
Fees: Condo owners pay a monthly or quarterly fee to cover the maintenance and upkeep of common areas, and they usually pay as a group for utilities such as water, garbage removal and cable television.
Description: Aside from the fact that owners share a wall or two with their neighbors, townhomes are usually two-story structures that closely mimic single-family homes in terms of physical attributes and ownership.
Ownership structure: Residents own the land under their townhomes, plus the structures themselves.
Fees: Owners typically pay a quarterly or annual fee for the maintenance and upkeep of common areas (such as lawns and swimming pools).
Description: Co-ops look like condos structurally, but the ownership is configured much differently.
Ownership structure: Residents become “shareholders” of the corporation, and are not actually owners of the property itself. They buy shares in a housing corporation, and, in turn, earn the right to reside in the building.
Fees: The shareholders elect a governing board, which determines an annual operating budget, collects monthly maintenance fees and allocates funding for property improvements.