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In co-ops, fees are generally set based on the size of the apartment. In co-ops, fees are generally set based on the size of the apartment.
It may sound hard to believe now, but there was a time when New York City condo and co-op prices were relatively in sync. The amenity craze had yet to take hold in new condominiums, which didn't differentiate them much from cooperatives. Moreover, in a slightly more dangerous city, a full-time doorman and an additional slate of gatekeepers (also known as the co-op board) was seen by many as a must-have. As a result of the evolution of the city and real estate market, CityRealty listings show that median Manhattan asking prices are a whopping $2,475,024 for condos and only (!!) $996,554 for their co-op counterparts.
However, that is not to say that co-ops are necessarily the place to go for bargains. The cost of one’s maintenance fees must be taken into account since, in New York City, fees are often extremely high. While fees in an older walk-up in Brooklyn may be just a few hundred dollars per month, fees in prestigious Manhattan co-ops are several thousands of dollars each month. In fact, some co-ops can come with extremely low sticker prices but maintenance fees as high as, if not higher than, one’s monthly mortgage payment (this listing is an excellent example). Just as we recently examined condo common charges, this article examines co-op maintenance fees in detail, discusses how they are set, and how to avoid excessively high fees if and when possible.

What Co-op Fees Cover

In co-ops, all shareholders pay co-op fees. Generally, co-op fees include property taxes, any underlying mortgage on the building, and building insurance. In many buildings, utilities (e.g., heat and hot water, electricity, and gas) are also included in the fees. One’s fees likely also cover other regular upkeep costs (e.g., landscaping, pest control, etc.). Finally, fees cover building staff salaries and any additional services. As a result, the more staff and services found in the building, the higher the fees.

How Co-op Fees Are Set

In co-ops, fees are generally set based on the size of the apartment. As a result, if you combine two units, expect to pay higher fees. In some cases, other factors, including the floor level, may also be taken into account when setting fees.

349 6th Avenue living room (Compass)

Negotiating Co-op Fees

Co-op fees are set by the co-op board and voted on at an annual meeting for shareholders. Small fee increases are expected (e.g., to cover higher taxes or fuel costs). Also, from time to time, a building may need to temporarily charge higher fees to cover the cost of a major capital improvement or repair. For example, many buildings are forced to raise their fees as a result of façade work. However, fees can also be a source of controversy in some co-op buildings.
While some shareholders may want to renovate the lobby or install a gym and be happy to pay higher fees in the process, other shareholders may consider such additions and the related costs unnecessary. Where majority rules, however, there isn’t much a shareholder can do. Ultimately, once the fees are set, shareholders are obliged to pay the fees as long as they remain shareholders in the building. This is one of the risks of buying in a co-op building. Of course, there is always one line of recourse: Shareholders who feel spending is out of control can always get elected to their co-op board and put an end to the frivolous spending and soaring fees.


Astoria Lights, #A8 (Corcoran Group)

611 41st Street, #L (Compass)

231 Park Place, #12 (Compass)

452 West 50th Street, #4W (Compass)

507 President Street, #3L (Compass)

Parker Gramercy, #1920 (Compass)

Southbridge Towers, #20J (Brown Harris Stevens Residential Sales LLC)

507 President Street, #3R (Compass)

440 9th Street, #3 (Corcoran Group)

135 Prospect Park West, #12A (Brown Harris Stevens Brooklyn LLC)

Hillman Coop, #D5A (Nestapple Inc)

The Saint Mark, #6R (Douglas Elliman Real Estate)

1209 Eighth Avenue, #4R (Compass)

674 Carroll Street, #2 (Compass)

Berkley Square, #E7 (Douglas Elliman Real Estate)

Columbus Park Tower, #21E (Corcoran Group)

250 West 27th Street, #4E (Sothebys International Realty)

425 West 24th Street, #3GF (Compass)

563 5th Street, #3 (Compass)

349 Sixth Avenue, #2 (Compass)

Seward Park (1-2), #L301 (LoHo Realty Inc)

528 4th Street, #3 (Corcoran Group)
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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.