Comparing City-Based Co-Ops and Condos With Their Suburban Counterparts How They Are Similar and Different

There certainly are differences to consider when managing a suburban property versus a city dwelling (iStock).

There's a long-standing assumption that the big city is a center for both hustle and bustle, a fast-paced place designed for the benefit of fast-paced folks--while on the other hand the suburbs are a mecca for those more easy and breezy; a place to slow things down and raise a family, maybe even splurge on an above-ground pool. Whether there's truth to these perceptions probably varies based on with whom you inquire, but that there are legitimate distinctions is not really up for debate. So how do these distinctions apply to running or working with a condominium, co-op or homeowners' association? Is a suburban community more lax than those in a thriving metropolis? Are folks in smaller towns more preoccupied with the minutiae of it all? Or is it more or less the same operation with some slight variances?

Property Value

When specifically considering the New York experience, space is famously a premium in the city, and there's significantly more room to spread out in places like Long Island and Westchester. This can mean that communities in places like the latter two face considerations and issues that are often irrelevant in an urban property.

“From a management point-of-view, a high-rise in Manhattan can be easier to handle than a garden-type apartment community on Long Island, because with the latter you have to consider landscaping, snow removal, and things of that nature,” says John Wolf Sr., president of Alexander Wolf & Co. in Plainview. “If you're looking at a high-rise, much of what is vital is contained within the building: you have your boiler, the roof, elevators, heating systems and mechanics, which are more-or-less standard and in compliance with Local Law 11 [which requires buildings with six or more stories above grade to have their exterior walls and appurtenances inspected periodically]. But on Long Island, you have the aforementioned issues, in addition to those surrounding sewage treatment, pools, siding, etc. A community with more acres means you're going to have more vendors and contractors of which you must keep track.”

According to Wolf's colleague, vice president and director of management Charlie Incandela, various regulations environmental and otherwise, which have been passed over the last three decades, have contributed to the different management considerations in a suburban community versus a city property. “We manage something something like a few dozen communities that have their own independent sewage treatment plants, which involves its own budgeting, planning and reserving that isn't even a consideration in Manhattan,” he says. “And then there's access: is your community gated? Gated and manned? Are there card readers or phone boxes? You're dealing with different animals.”

Rule of Law

Due to a litany of issues, spatial and otherwise, Manhattan has local laws and municipal codes with which properties must comply that can prove burdensome when managing a city association versus a suburban alternative.

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