You may love the history and architectural details in an older co-op or condo building, and feel newer building do not have the same features. These nuances might include parquet floors and ornate decorations with a lot of beautiful details. Additionally, the individual units may have items that are expensive to replicate, such as solid wood floors.
You may have a certain period in mind and enjoy the idea of living in a building from the time. While older buildings have a reputation for being well constructed, there are some things you should carefully consider before moving forward with your purchase.
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An older building may not have the same amenities, such as a pool and a workout room. However, many of these co-ops and condos are changing to compete with newer buildings. You should inquire about the availability of certain items if these are important to you.
Of course, if it is currently being added, you should ask how the board is funding the improvement. They can fund major capital improvements with a special assessment, reserve fund, increasing the regular monthly maintenance or common charges.
You and your lawyer should review the board minutes as part of the due diligence process. Both of you want to check to see if any maintenance issues are cropping up. New York’s laws governing corporations require the board to keep the minutes. You can review those from the regularly scheduled meetings, typically monthly.
Perusing the minutes from the shareholder’s meeting, which is generally held annually, is another good way to find the information. Also check the building’s financial statements, which should let you know how much the board has spent on maintenance over the last several years.
As a prospective buyer, it is in your interest to ask the managing agent about the age of the boiler and elevator. You can also look into when the windows were replaced since older ones are likely less efficient, which cause elevated heating and air conditioning bills compared to the more modern ones.
Watch the plumbing/electrical system
It is worth asking about the plumbing and electrical system. While the city requires virtually all managing agents to ensure the building complies with the code, you want to make sure it can accommodate the modern lifestyle. For instance, many older buildings have no capacity for a washer and dryer. You can check if the building’s management allows them. Otherwise, you need to figure out other options.
New York City’s Local Law 11 mandates inspection reports for a building’s façade. This applies to buildings taller than six stories and helps ensure pedestrian safety. There are three classifications, including Safe With a Repair and Maintenance Program. This covers safety, an important issue. But, you also want to check for other things. You should ask about the age of the major items, such as the roof.
It is always a smart idea to hire an inspector. But, it takes on critical importance when you are purchasing a unit in an older building. While you pay the inspector even if you do not go through with the purchase, it is money well spent. It can save you from making a poor decision that ends up costing you a lot more in the long run.
Putting it together
An older building’s charm and sturdy construction might fit the bill. However, we suggest doing your diligence to ensure it is not only aesthetically pleasing but also meets our daily living needs.