Cooperatives or Co-ops in Washington DC Metropolitan Area
Cooperatives, also shortened to Co-ops, is a real estate description that is not nearly as common as it once was. That said, they still hold a level of popularity in certain older U.S. cities, New York City being a prime example. You’ll also find them in the Washington Metropolitan area with the highest concentration in DC itself. A smaller number exists in areas like Alexandria, Arlington, Fairfax and Bethesda.
So what are these and what makes them different from condos for sale?
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This is actually a concept as old as the beginning of time, with recorded documents from Babylon establishing shared ownership housing. The practice continued into ancient Rome, and gaining a much wider popularity throughout Great Britain and France during the 19th century. The practice then extended into developing U.S. cities.
Here’s how it works:
A detached single family property is owned in its entirety—house and land. A condominium exists when the unit itself is purchased but the exterior and common grounds are owned by an association. But by contrast, the buyer of a co-op is actually purchasing a share of an organization that owns the entire building and grounds. The cooperative boards can also be quite selective when it comes to screening applicants who wish to buy in.
In other words, think of a cooperative as being a true hybrid between owning and renting a residence.
Historically speaking, cooperative ownership has been more affordable than condos, townhouses or detached single-family homes for sale. Monthly fees can sometimes be steep, however, especially with addresses that offer a host of amenities and services.
Washington DC’s first such building was the Concord, delivered in 1891. Those were the days before condos for sale, and before easily available bank financing. Enterprising people of means began pooling resources and forming cooperatives as a way to buy buildings and control tenancy. The movement became more widespread during the 1920s, thanks largely to Edmund Flynn, an enterprising developer who began buying grand old apartment buildings and turning them into co-ops. The Flynn Co. is still thriving, serving many of the current-day cooperatives in the District.
Affordability isn’t always a hallmark of co-op ownership. The legendary 2101 Connecticut Avenue in Kalorama represents the epitome of high-end living with prices ranging from around $1.45 to $4.5 million! Shoreham West in Woodley Park is slightly more coast-efficient with prices from $500,000 to $3.15 million.
But for each of these lap of luxury residences, there are many more that represent less ostentatious options for those exploring properties for sale in the Metropolitan area. Prices can start as low as $100,000, especially in communities such as Greenbelt and Silver Spring in Maryland.
But it is the $250,000 to $400,000 range where you will find an absolute motherlode of co-ops with enormous charm and appeal. From studio units to some very spacious city homes, these are perhaps the most representative of the advantages of this type of ownership, with lots of conveniences and prime DC and Northern Virginia locations.
The concept isn’t limited to living space. You’ll also find art space, food, daycare and energy co-ops throughout the Washington Metropolitan area. Ultimately, one of society’s oldest forms of sharing for the greater good is alive and well in the nation’s capital and its surrounding communities.
And if that can result in a great place to live, then perhaps it’s worth checking out? Call District Partners at Compass to learn more, 202-798-3600.
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Listing information last updated on June 17th, 2019 at 2:30am EDT.