Posted by Leonard Steinberg on May 8, 2011

We live in new times, which requires adjusting. All of us are doing it. Some Democrats are talking about deficits, some Republicans are talking about energy savings and green energy. Condominiums are talking about reserve funds and closer scrutiny of buyers. Yet many co-ops appear to be stuck in a time warp, and very clearly impact the value of the real estate they own.

I was chatting to a broker the other day about a co-op apartment she is trying to sell on the Upper East Side. It is a large one bedroom, over 1,000sf in size in a doorman building. It is asking a little over $ 650/sf. It is not in the most desirable location, but certainly a good one, moments from a Park. Maybe its time for buildings like this one to re-evaluate its co-op policies. Maybe co-ops that are under-valued could take on new life by adopting new rules such as a more liberal sub-leasing policy, installing a slick gym in the basement, updating the lobby, not just through a design comittee of owners, but through a serious comparison to other buildings that are valued at more than double. I often see apartments in these tired co-ops and marvel at the scale of the rooms, although ceiling heights in some are horrible. I wonder why a co-op would think that  AC window-units were either economical or esthetically pleasing to anyone anymore: they are neither.

Another good idea would be to specify more clearly what board requirements these co-ops have, and maybe align them more with the real world.

Condo’s have adopted many ‘co-op-style’ rules to improve the quality of life in their buildings.

Yes, it is true the co-op structure has kept the New York market very stable and that should continue, but maybe the time has come to re-invent the co-op, keeping all that is good and eliminating all the bad, counter-productive stuff that hurts the prospects of future owners, but worse, de-values the homes of many un-necessarily.

It is time for all of us, condo’s and co-ops, Democrats and Republicans, parents and kids, husbands and wives, corporations and employees, unions and governments, to stike a fair balance and meet in the middle… whats best, not focusing exclusively on what is purely self-serving and counter productive to the big picture.