In NYC, like in many places, there are four main housing types to choose from: single-family, multi-family, condominium, and co-op.
Unlike the rest of the country, in NYC each housing type is extremely nuanced with a myriad of different considerations. Let’s consider each option.
For most of America, this is the first option they look at when thinking about buying a home. After all, the concept of a single-family home is the traditional ‘American Dream’. However, if you’re looking for a single-family in New York City, you’ll probably have the most luck outside of Manhattan. Brooklyn, The Bronx, Queens, and Staten Island certainly have many single-family homes.
Across the city, there are usually more than 4,000 single-family homes on the market. A single-family home is certainly the best choice in terms of privacy. If you don’t like yard work, don’t want to pay for someone to do it or travel a lot, this may not be the move for you.
Living in one unit in a multi-family home and renting out the other units is a strategy that has recently been referred to as ‘house hacking‘. It means that your tenants are essentially paying some if not all of your mortgage, allowing you to live for free or at a very low cost. This is most popular in 2-4 family properties. Many townhouses across Brooklyn and Manhattan employed this technique. If you don’t mind living with your tenants this is a great strategy to cut costs and all boroughs of NYC have 2-4 family residences. Note, once you go above a 4-unit dwelling, this is considered a commercial property and different guidelines and codes come into play.
Condos are one of the most popular types of homes in NYC with more than 10,000 currently on the market. The advantage of living in a condo is that you are not responsible for the mechanics of the building or the roof, snow removal, landscaping, etc. Your maintenance fee will take care of that. As long as you don’t mind living in close quarters with your neighbors, this is an extremely popular type of dwelling in NYC.
Like a condominium, a co-op is an individual unit within a building. There are usually more than 5,000 co-ops on the market in NYC. With a co-op, however, you do not actually own the unit; rather, you are buying shares of the corporation that owns the building complex which gives you exclusive use of that individual unit. Although co-op’s are generally more affordable than other ownership options they have a reputation of a grueling board approval process. In recent years some co-ops have started to flip into condos and condos are certainly the more popular options among new construction.