What is the difference between a cooperative and a condominium?
In a “condo” arrangement, you legally own a particular unit in a multiple unit structure of the building. Under a typical arrangement, you have a share and a right to use common areas such as hallways, elevators, gardens, swimming pools, and club house within that structure. You pay monthly payment to an “association” for maintenance expenses the common areas. The association is typically run like a corporation with complaint and appeal processes to protect individual rights of owners and to provide a mechanism for resolving disputes within the community.
In a “co-op”, the ownership structure is quite different: you do not own your own specific unit in the building but own stock in the corporation that actually owns the building and all the apartments. You lease your apartment from the corporation according to a formula based on the unit’s size. As a shareholder, you have a say in electing the Board of Directors who manage the cooperative.
What is the purpose of “recording” a deed?
When you purchase real property, you receive a written document called “the deed” which transfers the ownership of the property from the buyer to you as the purchaser. The deed gives you formal title in exchange usually for a specified amount of money. The transfer of interest in real property is not complete until the deed is delivered to you. The deed should be recorded immediately with the county clerk in the county where the property is located. By recording the deed, you give notice to all future potential buyers of that property that you now have an ownership interest in that particular piece of real property. Recording also tracks the chronological chain of ownership from a series of buyers and sellers. Before you purchase real property, a search is conducted at the county clerk’s recording office to confirm that the seller (as well as all previous sellers) has legal title to the property in question. Title insurance companies typically perform this function to determine whether any defects occurred in prior conveyances and transfers. If so, such defects may then be pointed out and excluded from their coverage.
What tax advantages do I get by owning real property?
Mortgage interest deduction: The major advantage to owning real property comes from the deductibility of the interest of a home mortgage or a home equity loan. In order to qualify for an income tax deduction, the loan must be for your home or a vacation home that is not rented to others. The deduction must be taken as an itemized deduction in Schedule A of your federal tax return.
Property tax deduction: real estate taxes paid to any state or local governments are also deductible on your federal return. Generally, the taxes must be based on the assessed value of the real property and must be charged uniformly against all property under the jurisdiction of the taxing authority.
Capital gains exemption: Once you sell your residence, you may exclude up to $250,000 ($500,000 for married couples) from any realized capital gains. In order to qualify, you must meet certain requirements: among other things, you must have lived in that home for at least two of the five years prior to the sale, and not have excluded gain from the sale of another home two years prior to the sale.