What to Know When Buying a Condo or Co-Op in a Boutique Building in NYC

What to Know When Buying a Condo or Co-Op in a Boutique Building in NYC

  • Kobi Lahav
  • 05/9/23

The currents in New York real estate are always moving quickly. The emergence of boutique buildings is just one of the ways that we’re noticing that real estate is shifting in the Big Apple. As such, more and more residents are attracted to this unique type of building.
But what should you know about boutique buildings, co-ops, and condos for sale in Manhattan? It’s important to understand the pros and cons before you go all in. That’s why we’ve gathered all the essentials below. Let’s get started!

What exactly is a ‘boutique building’?

First off, let’s get clear on definitions. What is a boutique building, and what does it look like to live in one? The word ‘boutique’ carries its fair share of connotations. Ritzy, exclusive, small-scale real estate located in some of Manhattan’s and Brooklyn’s most fashionable districts certainly fits the bill. And that’s partly a good definition.
But there’s much more to a boutique building than that. In general, a boutique building is smaller than a high-rise. It often has enough condos or co-ops in it for less than 20 residents. This number can climb to 30 or 50 apartments in some areas. Boutique buildings are more prominent in certain parts of town, like the West Village, Soho, Cobble Hill, and Brooklyn Heights. Boutique real estate on the Upper East Side is also common, though they can look more like high-end hotels rather than the modern facades that decorate other boutiques.

You may have fewer amenities than in other buildings

Now we move on to the concrete details. Since boutique buildings are smaller and more intimate than fashionable high-rise apartments, expect to have access to fewer added amenities. Owners or renters of condos for sale in Brooklyn and Manhattan will likely not include a pool, spa, or large indoor gym. Door attendants are rare at boutique buildings (though they do occur), but many of them do include rooftop gardens, concierges, and laundry services.

Price largely depends on location

As is true across New York City, the asking price for your dream condo or co-op will depend on the part of town you’re eyeing. It’s no different for boutique buildings. On the whole, we see that the trend is toward boutique buildings being more expensive than apartments in large buildings. They’re more private and exclusive, so they naturally attract swankier clientele.
But this trend isn’t always true. If you’re willing to live in a space with a subprime view or one that’s not located in the top of the top when it comes to zip code, you can easily find a space that’s cheaper than those in high rises with a pristine view.

You’ll be part of a smaller, more intimate community

Another big benefit of buying a boutique condo for sale in Manhattan is that you can profit from living in a smaller building with fewer neighbors. That means you’ll get a chance to build lasting relationships with those you share the space with. If you’re someone who values your neighbors and is willing to give up the fast come-and-go that predominates in New York, a boutique building can be a welcome reprieve.

It can be easier to solve maintenance issues

With fewer residents come the benefits of fewer maintenance problems. The smaller the building, the easier it is for professionals to come in and fix issues. Then again, you’ll need to be diligent when it comes to contacting the board about any problems that arise because you may be the only one who’s experiencing them.
Keep in mind that you’re going to be taking on a little more risk than unit owners in larger buildings. Since many boutique buildings are self-managed, you need to make sure they pay outstanding invoices on time. Otherwise, it can take longer to solve plumbing, boiler, façade, or roof problems.

Getting to-and-from your condo is easier

Boutique buildings are also physically smaller than the larger high rises--though not always. That means it will be logistically easier to get around in the space. There will be fewer floors to climb and fewer units for the board to manage. It’s easier to move furniture around and simpler to bring your groceries up to your unit.

Your common charges and fees may be higher

The cost per unit for each resident in a boutique building will probably be higher when compared to those in large buildings. Your building costs (common charge for condos and maintenance fees for co-ops) will likely be higher than average. This is all due to the pool of residents being lower, so management will charge more per unit. Still, boutiques have a few added benefits that lower monthly charges, such as the fees for façade maintenance.

It’s important to understand your contract from top to bottom

Lastly, we want to reiterate the importance of staying up to date with your contract when you do decide to purchase a co-op or condo for sale in Manhattan. The risks will likely (but not always) be higher compared to larger buildings. It will always be a good idea to meet and talk with a local real estate agent and perhaps a purchaser’s attorney to read through the details of the contract.
Make sure you understand if there are any red flags when it comes to the state of the building. Know if there are any planned expansions or large-scale maintenance on the building. You should understand what portion of those costs the building is going to pay and how much of the risk will be yours to shoulder. It’s all a matter of being exact and diligent.

Get in touch with a local real estate agent today!

There you have it: everything you need to know when buying a condo or co-op in a boutique building in New York City. If you have any questions or comments about buying a co-op or condo for sale in Brooklyn, Manhattan, Long Island City, or elsewhere in NYC, reach out today! Contact Kobi Lahav for more information.

*Header photo courtesy of Kobi Lahav

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For Kobi, his client’s needs are always at the top of his list, and he will develop his abilities and skills in any way necessary to meet your needs. You can put your trust in Kobi to use all of his expertise, education, and highly developed skills to help you close the deal of your dreams!

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