Empire State Building - Sales


Co-operatives | Condominiums | Townhouses

The Purchase Process | The Sale Process | Closing Costs

Read Nick’s Thoughts on Co-ops vs. Condos


Co-operatives (co-ops) are the most common form of home ownership in New York City. Instead of buying a piece of property, like a house or a condominium, co-op buyers are buying shares in a corporation that owns a building. These shares allow the owner to use a specific apartment subject to the rules of the building. Think of it like a homeowner’s association, except instead of an HOA (which has limited power) you and your neighbors are members of a corporation (which has a lot of power). In general, co-ops offer the highest quality of life and they make excellent primary residences as a result.

Unlike condo buildings, co-ops can take out a mortgage on the building. The ability to take out a mortgage can give well-maintained co-ops financial flexibility, easing the burden on shareholders. Some co-ops even own their building’s commercial space and use the rental income to reduce or eliminate carrying costs for the owners. Speaking of carrying costs: When searching online for co-ops, keep in mind that real estate taxes are included in the monthly maintenance fee. Real estate taxes are listed separately for other types of property.

It’s important to note that co-ops are the most common form of homeownership in New York City, outnumbering condos 3-to-1. The other types of home ownership are more expensive than co-ops thanks to supply and demand.

Some of the benefits unique to co-ops include:

  1. Lower closing costs
    • Co-op buyers do not pay the mortgage recording tax or title insurance in New York State. This can save as much as 3% of the purchase price at closing compared to a condo or townhouse.
  2. Higher quality of life
    • Nearly all co-ops have restrictions on renting, among other restrictions. This protects residents from having a revolving door of tenants for neighbors.
  3. Pre-wars (Buildings built before ~1940)
    • Pre-war buildings contain unique architectural details. Pre-wars are almost always co-ops.
  4. Location, location, location!
    • Buildings in the best of the best locations (think Park Avenue, Fifth Avenue, and the West Village) are usually co-ops.
  5. Community
    • Many co-ops want residents who will fit in with the rest of the building. Co-ops that are less strict might not have this benefit.

Downsides to co-ops include:

  1. Investor Un-Friendly
    • Many co-ops place restrictions on renting.
    • The ones that don’t make great investment properties, however.
  2. Restrictions on financing
    • Most co-ops allow buyers to finance a maximum of 80% of the purchase price.
    • Some elite co-ops will restrict financing even further – or refuse to allow financing altogether.
  3. Post-closing liquidity
    • Co-ops want to see buyers with money in the bank after the closing. For a building that allows 80% financing, the standard is 2 years of maintenance + mortgage costs in post-closing liquidity.
    • For a building that allows only 50% financing (or less), the board might want to see buyers with the entire purchase price in liquid assets. Be transparent with your broker about your finances.
  4. Board interview
    • Before a purchase can be approved, buyers must pass an interview with the members of the co-op’s board. If the buyers do not pass, then their down payment is returned and the contract of sale is void.
    • The best way to approach it is to treat it like a job interview.
  5. Unwritten rules
    • Unfortunately, sometimes the reason for a board turn-down is not something you can find in the building’s written rules.
    • Before committing to a building, ask your broker if the shareholders have any voting patterns that aren’t reflected in the written rules.


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Condominiums (condos) will sound familiar to out-of-state residents. When you buy a condo apartment, you are buying real property. Condo buyers receive a deed for their new home that entitles them to all of the physical space inside its walls, plus a percentage of the building’s shared common elements. Owning a  condo is just like owning a house that belongs to a homeowner’s association: condo owners can come and go as they please, and they can also sell or lease their apartment to whomever they want, whenever they want. In recent years, condos have appreciated in value more quickly than co-ops. Hopefully, you can see why investors love condos.

Most condos have a Board of Directors. However, the power of the condo board is limited compared to co-op boards. A condo board can not outright deny a buyer or a renter, while co-op boards can. This makes condos “easier” to buy and sell than most co-ops. When searching for condos online, keep in mind that real estate taxes will be listed separately from the monthly maintenance charges (called “common charges” for condos).

Condos have many benefits over the other types of home ownership, including:

  1. Lease-ability
    • In general, condos do not restrict leasing.
    • Some buildings may require minimum lease lengths of up to 1 year to discourage short-term rentals.
  2. Appreciation
    • In recent years, the average condo has appreciated in value more than the average co-op.
  3. Easy to buy & sell
    • Condo applications are less thorough than co-ops.
    • There is no formal interview process, either.
  4. Services & amenities
    • Condos tend to be newer buildings with the newest amenities.
    • Many hotels have condos that enjoy full access to the hotel’s amenities. These make for a perfect pied-à-terre.
  5. Stability
    • Rules in a particular co-op can change over time as the board members change. Condos are more predictable because the condo board has less power.

Some downsides to condos:

  1. More expensive per square foot
    • Although this may be insignificant compared to the greater investment potential, budget-conscious buyers may need to look at co-ops for the space they need.
  2. Not-so-prime location
    • Condos are generally newer buildings in less-than-prime locations, but some exceptions exist. Expect to pay a premium for those exceptions.
  3. Functional homes
    • Buyers looking for a home with character will have few options if their search is limited to condos.
    • Expect to pay a premium for a pre-war condo.
  4. Less control
    • The flip side of freedom? Everyone else has it, too.


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For the most elite buyer who demands privacy and discretion, townhouse ownership is an excellent choice. Fewer than 2,000 single-family homes remain in prime Manhattan and they do not come cheap. In prime Brooklyn, townhouse living is more common and relatively more affordable than Manhattan, but still a symbol of success and wealth with many advantages over multi-family buildings.

Nearly all townhouses in our areas of service are independently maintained by the owners and do not belong to a homeowner’s association. Buyers who desire the space and privacy of a townhouse, but who still want the services of a condo or co-op, can find a townhouse-like maisonette, which is a condo or co-op apartment with a private street entrance that also allows its owners to access the building’s amenities. Ask your broker for more information about maisonette homes to learn if they are right for you.

Among the many benefits of townhouses are:

  1. Privacy
    • No shared entrance with your neighbors. No doormen, security cameras, or building staff watching your every move.
  2. Outdoor space
    • Nearly all townhouses and maisonette homes come with a private garden.
      Renovated townhouses can also have a roof deck. Others have balconies and terraces as well.
  3. Full control
    • Sell or lease your home whenever you want to whomever you want. No condo or co-op board approval necessary.
  4. Location, location, location!
    • Many single-family homes are located in Greenwich Village and the Upper East Side (west of Park Avenue), the two most desirable locations in Manhattan.
    • The West Village in particular is secluded from the rest of the city. This helps accommodate the private lifestyle desired by townhouse buyers.
  5. Income potential
    • Some townhouses are two- or even three-family homes. Live in one unit and rent out the others, all while paying taxes and maintenance for only one property.
    • This is more common in Brooklyn and Upper Manhattan. Prime Manhattan townhouses are more valuable as single-family homes.

Some important factors to keep in mind when buying a townhouse:

  1. Building width
    • Homes 25′ wide and larger are considered mansions. Narrower homes can be a tough sell to luxury buyers.
    • If you are buying a multi-family to convert into a single-family home, then combining two adjacent and narrow buildings can make 1 + 1 = 3
  2. More maintenance
    • When browsing online, monthly maintenance costs are not advertised like they are in co-ops and condos. This can make expenses seem lower than they are.
    • Expect to pay more to maintain a townhouse than you would pay in common charges at a comparable condo. Remember: you are not sharing the costs of maintaining the boiler and the roof with anyone other than yourself.
  3. No services
    • No package room; No superintendent; No gym or pool in your building.
    • This can be offset by purchasing a maisonette, or by arranging and paying for these services yourself. You can also build a gym or pool (or both!) in your home.
  4. Snow days
    • When it snows, you are responsible for clearing the sidewalk in front of your house. Make sure to tell your staff about this.

For the right buyers, the advantages of townhouse ownership far outweigh the negatives. In fact, many townhouse buyers will not even consider other types of property. Owning a single-family home in this city of nearly 9 million people is a privilege reserved for only the most successful individuals in the world. The few who have earned that privilege enjoy taking advantage of it.


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The Purchase Process

Have you decided to pull the trigger? Before you do, make sure you have these three things:

  1. Your broker
    • Don’t buy a home without one. This is your real estate quarterback. (Contact us here.)
  2. Your attorney
    • You need an attorney to negotiate real estate contracts in New York. We recommend choosing one before making any offers.
  3. Your lender
    • If you plan on financing, it’s very important that you choose a lender and get pre-qualified before starting your search.
    • Compare rates among different lenders – but remember that quality of service is just as important as the rate. Lower rates don’t mean anything if your deal doesn’t close.

Once you have all of this in place, you’re ready to make your move. Here are the steps that you can expect to take when purchasing a co-op or condo:

  1. Make an offer
    • Offers are made informally and through your broker, either orally or in an e-mail.
    • Offers are not binding in New York! We strongly encourage making oan offer if you have any interest in a property.
    • The worst that can happen is that the seller tells you: ‘No’
  2. Negotiate a price
    • If your offer is accepted, congrats!
    • If not, hopefully you receive a counter offer to continue negotiations. Your broker will guide you through this.
  3. Draft & negotiate the contract
    • Real estate transactions in New York require an attorney for both the buyer and the seller.
  4. Sign on the dotted line
    • Your attorney will explain the building’s financial condition, bylaws, and the contract details to you before you sign.
    • Expect to place a down payment in escrow at the time of signing, usually equal to 10% of the purchase price (for re-sales).
    • Down payments at a new development usually range from 15% to 25%. Talk to your broker for more details.
  5. Complete the loan application
    • If financing is part of the deal, then you will have had to prove that you are pre-qualified for a loan when you made your offer.
    • Continue working with your lender on the loan application once the contract is signed. Your broker will help push to get this completed.
  6. Submit your purchase application (“board package”) [CONDOS/CO-OPS ONLY]
    • Simply provide your documents to your broker and let him or her do the dirty work.
  7. Meet with the board [CO-OPS ONLY]
    • If your application passes the board’s initial review, then you will be invited for an interview.
    • Being interviewed is a GOOD thing! It means you passed the first test!
    • Work with your broker to prepare for the actual interview.
  8. Closing time
    • Once the condo issues its waiver of first refusal; OR if the co-op accepts you; OR if you are buying a townhouse; then you schedule your closing.
    • Congratulations!!!!!

For condo buyers, this process can take about 60 to 75 days with financing or 30 to 45 days without. Co-op buyers should plan for a closing in 75 to 90 days with financing and 60 days without. Townhouse buyers can expect to close within 60 to 75 days if they are financing, or they can close as soon as the deal is signed if they’re paying cash. But remember: every situation is different! Don’t get caught off guard. Be sure to confirm all of these details with your broker.


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The Sale Process

Selling your home can be extremely rewarding when it’s done right and a nightmare when it’s not. Before you get started, make sure to do these six things:

  1. Speak to your accountant and your attorney about the sale
    • They will advise you on the tax and legal implications of selling. If you need a real estate attorney, we can refer you to one.
  2. Hire the best broker for you
    • The “best” broker might not be the one who works hardest for you. Find the one who will work for you.
    • Not sure about someone? Let us know and we will help you find someone that you are more comfortable working with.
  3. Show your home at its best
    • Fresh paint, new lightbulbs, refinished floors, minor renovations, etc. have a small cost to you but a HUGE effect on your sales price.
    • Wash all of your windows to maximize light and views.
    • If your kitchen appliances are outdated, you will benefit greatly from purchasing new ones before listing your home.
    • Professional home staging is necessary to earn top dollar. Your broker can help you arrange this.
  4. Schedule professional photography and floor plan design
    • We will arrange for one of our experienced architectural photographers to shoot your home.
    • Our floor plan designers make clear designs that are easy for buyers to read.
    • You could have the best home on the planet and it means nothing if no one sees it. We want so many people to see it that they have to fight for your home. That’s why we take pride in our photos and floor plans.
  5. Set your expectations for today’s market, not the market from 6 months ago
    • Deals that closed today were made months ago when the contract was signed. Keep this in mind when setting a price.
  6. Notify your building’s management and/or your co-op board about the sale
    • Learn what the board and/or building management expects to see in a board package.
    • In co-ops, it’s crucial to make sure that your buyer gives the board exactly what they want or the deal will not go through.
    • In condos, a messy board package can not prevent a deal by itself, but it can still cause major delays.

Now you’re ready to sell! For more information on our marketing techniques and how we will help guide you through the process, please click here to schedule an appointment with us. Every situation is different and we will tailor our services to meet your specific needs.


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Closing Costs

Below are estimates of costs that you can expect to pay at the closing table. Some of these, such as New York City and State transfer taxes, are exact figures and will not change. Others, such as costs associated with the building, banks and attorneys, can vary depending on the provider. Be sure to confirm these for your specific situation, and remember: you get what you pay for. Cash purchasers can disregard fees related to banks and mortgages.

  • Buyer’s attorney fees: $1,800 to $3,000
  • Bank fees (includes application fee, processing fee, appraisal fees, etc.): Varies. Please consult with your lender.
    • Bank attorney: $600 to $1,000
    • Recognition agreement fee (related to mortgage): $200+
    • UCC-1 Filing Fee: $75 to $125
  • Co-op purchase application fee: $500 to $1,000
  • Move-in deposit (refundable after move-in): $500 to $1,000
  • Move-in fee (non-refundable): $250 to $1,000
  • Judgment & lien search: $250 to $350
  • Mansion tax: 1% of purchase price, only if purchase price is $1,000,000 or greater
  • Maintenance adjustment: Pro-rated maintenance fee for the month of closing.
  • Buyer’s attorney fees: $1,800 to $3,000
  • Bank fees (includes application fee, processing fee, appraisal fees, etc.): Varies. Please consult with your lender.
    • Bank attorney: $600 to $1,000
    • UCC-1 Filing Fee: $75 to $125
    • Mortgage title insurance: Varies by loan amount.
    • Mortgage recording tax (NYC): See below for NYC rates. Different rates apply elsewhere.
      • .80% of loan amount, if loan amount is less than $500,000
      • 1.95% of loan amount, if loan amount is $500,000 or greater
      • 2.80% of loan amount, if purchasing multiple units in the same building and loan is $500,000 or greater
  • Title insurance: About 0.4% of purchase price, plus various search and recording fees totaling ~$1,000
  • Condo purchase application fee: $500 to $1,000
  • Mansion tax: 1% of purchase price, only if purchase price is $1,000,000 or greater
  • Real estate tax & common charges adjustment: Pro-rated for the month of closing.
  • Sponsor’s attorney fees: $2,000 to $3,000
  • Sponsor’s New York City & New York State transfer taxes: 1.825% of purchase price
    • Calculated and added to the purchase price (for tax reasons). New price may trigger the mansion tax.
  • Contribution to resident manager’s (superintendent’s) apartment: Varies for each development. Usually scales with the size of the unit purchased.
  • Capital fund contribution: One-time fee equal to 1 or 2 month’s common charges.
  • Mortgage recording tax (Suffolk & Nassau Counties): Disregard NYC rates from above.
    • 0.8% of loan amount, if residential 1-3 Family Dwelling
    • 1.05% of loan amount, if more than three family residential dwelling, commercial property, or vacant land
  • Peconic Bay Tax (Hamptons): Applies only to the townships of Southampton, East Hampton, Riverhead, Southold, and Shelter Island.
    • 3.40% of purchase price, if 1-3 Family Dwelling with purchase price greater than $1,000,000;
    • Does not apply if purchase price is less than $250,000 on improved property;
    • Does not apply if purchase price is less than $100,000 on unimproved property;
    • 2.40% of purchase price, if 1-3 Family Dwelling less than $1,000,000 or any other residential property not mentioned here
  • Broker’s commission: 6% of sales price
    • This is Nick El-Tawil’s standard commission. It does not reflect any other broker’s rates.
  • Seller’s attorney fees: $1,800 to $3,000
  • New York City Real Property Transfer Tax – residential: Varies. See below for rates.
    • 1% of sales price, when sales price is less than $500,000
    • 1.425% of sales price, when sales price is $500,000 or greater
      New York City Real Property Transfer Tax – commercial: Used when selling two or more units in the same co-op or condo. See below.1.425% of sales price, when sales price is less than $500,000
      2.625% of sales price, when sales price is $500,000 or greater
  • New York City Real Property Transfer Tax – commercial: Used when selling two or more units in the same co-op or condo. Can apply to a single combination apartment when units are not legally combined. See below.
    • 1.425% of sales price, when sales price is less than $500,000
    • 2.625% of sales price, when sales price is $500,000 or greater
  • New York State transfer tax: $4 per $1,000 of sales price (roughly 0.4% of sales price)
  • Transfer tax filing fee: $100 for co-op sales, $75 for condo sales
  • New York State estimated capital gains tax: 8.97% of estimated net gain, paid at closing UNLESS exempt;Please speak to an accountant for details. Tawil & Team is not an accountant and does not give tax advice.
  • Federal Capital Gains tax (Domestic only): 15% or 20% of estimated net gain, paid at closing UNLESS exempt;Please speak to an accountant for details. Tawil & Team is not an accountant and does not give tax advice.
  • FIRPTA Withholding Tax (Foreigners only): 15% of sales price is withheld from foreign sellers UNLESS exempt;Please speak to an accountant for details. Tawil & Team is not an accountant and does not give tax advice.
  • Pick-up/Pay-off fee: $250 to $500
  • UCC-3 Filing Fee: $75 to $125
  • Building transfer fee (“flip tax”): Varies by building. Generally found in elite co-ops and generally not found in condos.
  • Stock transfer tax: $0.05 per share
  • Transfer agent / co-op attorney fee: $500 to $1,000
  • Application / waiver fees: $500 to $1,000


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Tawil & Team - Sales Guides


This information is provided for your convenience. Please remember that Tawil & Team is a licensed real estate broker, not an accountant or an attorney, and that each building can have its own set of rules. The information above will not apply in every situation. We advise you to speak to the correct professionals, your broker included, to determine what applies to your specific situation. Contact us here for a complimentary consultation.