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

Features

Interior at a newly-launched boutique condo in Prospect Heights, 529 Park Place Interior at a newly-launched boutique condo in Prospect Heights, 529 Park Place
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.

Abatements

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.

New Boutique Brooklyn Condos with Low Carrying Costs

287-East-Houston-Street-1 All images of 529 Park Place via The Corcoran Group
287-East-Houston-Street-2 Kitchen
287-East-Houston-Street-3 Bedroom
From the listing: Super sunny floor through two bedroom, two bathroom home with an enclosed private rooftop terrace that has unfettered views of the Manhattan skyline and beyond! 987 square feet of luxury living space in a brand new elevator condo building, with low monthly CC’s ($424.37) and taxes ($711.73). Featuring hidden and recessed split system HVAC units throughout the home for maximum temperature control, radiant heat floors in the bathrooms, stylish chandeliers in each room, a video intercom system and a washer and dryer in the laundry room, this home is ready for you to move right into! You'll feel like you're in a treehouse in the massive living room that is flooded with South Western sunlight throughout the day. See floor plan and full details here.
529 Park Place

313-West-121st-Street-1 All images of 285 Grand Street via Compass
313-West-121st-Street-2 Kitchen
313-West-121st-Street-3 Private roof deck
From the listing: Nestled in the heart of Williamsburg, Penthouse B at 285 Grand Street is an incredible 2,345 square foot three bed, three-and-a-half bath duplex with an additional 2,450 square feet of private outdoor space across two roof terraces. An entertainer's paradise, the living room features oversized windows drenched in sunlight and is perched atop Wililamsburg's newest condo development. The Scavolini designed chef's kitchen features a Gaggenau appliance package, Caesarstone countertops, and a temperature controlled wine refrigerator See floor plan and full details here.
260-Bowery-1 Exterior of 285 Grand Street (via Compass)

356 Baltic Street All images of 356 Baltic Street via Corcoran
121-East-22nd-Street-2 Kitchen
121-East-22nd-Street-3 Private garden
From the listing: Brand new and ready for immediate closings! 356 Baltic is a rare low-rise condo building nestled amongst the charming brownstones of Boerum Hill in Brooklyn. Situated just a few stoops off of world-class Smith Street, and consisting of five light-filled homes, this intimate collection of apartments offers oversized and exceptionally designed spaces with incredible convenience and modern design rarely seen in the neighborhood. See floor plan and full details here.
356 Baltic Street

52-Convent-Avenue-1 269 Malcolm X Blvd. via BOLD NY
52-Convent-Avenue-2 Living room
52-Convent-Avenue-3 Private terrace
From the listing: Your new home awaits at 269 Malcom X. This is a magnificent New Development project. The building is comprised of 8 incredible condo units. Welcome to unit PH which is an amazing open spaced 2 bedroom 2 bath Duplex. This unit also comes with incredible private roof space & a balcony on the first floor! The kitchen has been beautiful built out by German Kitchen. See floor plan and full details here.
269 Malcolm X Boulevard Exterior of 269 Malcolm X Boulevard

(Compass)
505-West-43rd-Street-2 Bedroom
Bath
From the listing: Located in the heart of Greenpoint, 116 India Street is a brand-new boutique, modern, 7-unit condominium comprised of one and two bedroom layouts. Each unit is configured with an open plan with beautiful slate stone tile flooring, recessed lighting, floor to ceilings windows, central heat and air conditioner and an in-home washer/dryer. Kitchens are equipped with engineered quartz countertops and backsplash, custom cabinetry from 7HAUS, and a suite of high-end appliances Bosch. Apartment 3A is a 1 bedroom 1 bathroom, boasting floor to ceiling windows, and a private balcony. See floor plan and full details here.
Exteior of 116 India Street

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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.