Cooperatives For Sale in the Washington Metro Area
Cooperative is a real estate term you don’t hear as much anymore, although you can still find examples in Washington Metro, including the District itself and parts of Northern Virginia and Maryland. Although not exclusively so, you most commonly find them in older high-density urban areas, usually with larger residential buildings.
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More about Coop Buildings in Washington, Maryland and Virginia
Cooperatives or co-ops date back as far as Babylon and ancient Rome, with the movement gaining widespread popularity in Great Britain and France in the 1800s. In its simplest of terms, cooperatives differ from condominiums in that co-ops are formed from member-based corporations who pool their resources. Whereas a condo owner purchases a unit, a co-op buyer purchases a share of the organization that owns the entire building or complex, and is thereby granted the right to live in a selected unit. Also, co-op boards screen and select who may buy into the organization.
The first cooperative in DC was the Concord in 1891. In the early days, banks would not finance cooperatives and condos did not yet exist. By pooling resources, those with wealth could buy entire buildings and control the tenancy. During the 1920s, a developer named Edmund Flynn began converting grand old apartment buildings into cooperatives. Among the city’s historic co-ops are The Broadmoor and The Chesterfield. The Watergate is also one of the better-known cooperatives, although the I.M. Pei-designed curvilinear structure is decidedly modern.
Cooperative ownership is typically more affordable than buying a condo. On the other hand, monthly fees are usually more expensive. One reason is that co-ops often offer extra amenities, such as concierge service, etc. A good example of a high-end cooperative is the 16-story Van Ness North building with 446 units, a doorman and fully-staffed front desk, valet service, dry-cleaning and two swimming pools. Co-ops at the highest end of the scale can run well over a million dollars for fabulous penthouse apartments, while the entry-level units can start around $100,000.
While the metropolitan area’s largest cache of co-ops is in DC itself, they can also be found in Arlington and Fairfax, Virginia, as well as Bethesda, Maryland and other communities. One of the more unique and interesting real estate options, this longstanding tradition of power through sharing, also has many other applications, such as food cooperatives and artist and gallery co-ops.