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A blog from CityRealty (Links below will take you to the 6sqft site)


10 Lenox Avenue via Halstead 10 Lenox Avenue via Halstead
Saving up for a New York City condo is a lofty goal--CityRealty listings show that the median price is $1.9 million--but the down payment is just the beginning. Even if a person is lucky enough to buy their new condo outright and avoid some surprise charges, they must still pay common charges and real estate taxes, the combined total of which can rival some mortgage payments, the entire time they're living in the apartment.

Just as we did with their cooperative counterparts, CityRealty takes a look at how the price of common charges is determined, what they cover, and how to avoid making excessively high monthly payments.

Condo Buildings

What Common Charges Cover

In condos, tenants pay common charges, which cover many of these same things as co-op fees (e.g., maintenance of common areas such as the lobby and hallways, pest control, trash, and snow removal, etc.). But there is one notable difference—common charges don’t cover property taxes. As a result, common charges are often lower than co-op fees. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that one ends up paying lower fees in a condo. Once the taxes are taken into account, one’s combined taxes and common charges can be much higher than one’s co-op fees. Of course, it depends on the building and the building’s range of amenities.

How Common Charges Are Set

Common charges are set based on the size (and in some cases, also the location) of one’s unit. In essence, the condo unit’s “percentage of common interest” (a variable usually based solely on square footage) is multiplied by the cost of the included operating costs. Therefore, the bigger the unit, the higher the fees.

Common charges are also subject to change over time. Higher fuel costs, major repairs to common areas in the building, and new services will all impact one’s fees. Like co-op boards, condo boards may also levy assessments to cover the cost of major projects, including façade repairs.

Negotiating Common Charges

If your common charges spike, there is not much you can do. In fact, even if you purchased in a new building and were led to believe the common charges would be considerably lower than they are, you may have little or no way to take action. What’s clear is that failure to pay your common charges is never a good idea. Condo boards are empowered to take legal action to ensure they can collect any common charges in arrears. Again, if a condo owner who believes their building’s common charges are too high, the best line of defense is to get involved in the building by running for the condo board.


While there is rarely much one can do to lower their common charges, condo owners have one recourse that co-ops don't: From time to time, tax abatements can help. The most common abatement is the 421-a tax abatement. The program, which dates back to the early 1970's, was created as an incentive to motivate developers to use underused land. In return, developers were given tax cuts, which were, in turn, passed along to owners. Most 421-a tax abatements lasted for ten years, but a 2006 initiative offered some developers a 20-year abatement, only if they also agreed to add affordable units to their development. For this reason, although the 421-a tax abatement program technically no longer exists, there are still a few buildings in New York City where prospective buyers can take advantage of the abatement. Examples can be found here.

313-West-121st-Street-1 All images of The Vidro via Halstead
313-West-121st-Street-2 Kitchen
313-West-121st-Street-3 Bedroom

121-East-22nd-Street-1 All images of 121 E 22nd via Toll Brothers Real Estate
121-East-22nd-Street-2 Kitchen
121-East-22nd-Street-3 Bedroom

287-East-Houston-Street-1 All images of 287 East Houston Street via The Corcoran Group
287-East-Houston-Street-2 Kitchen
287-East-Houston-Street-3 Bedroom

52-Convent-Avenue-1 All images of 52 Convent Avenue via Halstead
52-Convent-Avenue-2 Kitchen
52-Convent-Avenue-3 Bedroom

505-West-43rd-Street-1 All images of Charlie West via Reuveni Real Estate
505-West-43rd-Street-2 Kitchen
505-West-43rd-Street-3 Bedroom

515-West-29th-Street-1 All images of 515 High Line via Forum Absolute Capital Partners
515-West-29th-Street-2 Kitchen
515-West-29th-Street-3 Bedroom

10-Lenox-Avenue-1 All images of 10 Lenox Avenue via Halstead
10-Lenox-Avenue-2 Kitchen
10-Lenox-Avenue-3 Bedroom

260-Bowery-1 All images of 260 Bowery via Douglas Elliman
260-Bowery-2 Kitchen
260-Bowery-3 Bedroom

11-Hancock-Place-1 All images of Eleven Hancock via Halstead
11-Hancock-Place-2 Kitchen
11-Hancock-Place-3 Bedroom

269-West-87th-Street-1 All images of West End and Eighty Seven via Nest Seekers
269-West-87th-Street-2 Kitchen
269-West-87th-Street-3 Bedroom

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Additional Info About the Building

Contributing Writer Cait Etherington Cait Etherington has over twenty years of experience working as a journalist and communications consultant. Her articles and reviews have been published in newspapers and magazines across the United States and internationally. An experienced financial writer, Cait is committed to exposing the human side of stories about contemporary business, banking and workplace relations. She also enjoys writing about trends, lifestyles and real estate in New York City where she lives with her family in a cozy apartment on the twentieth floor of a Manhattan high rise.
Spacious 1 Bedrooms with outdoor space and in-residence w/d View Property
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