Can an foreign buyer or investor buy a property in a co-op in New York City?

Real Estate Agent with Douglas Elliman Real Estate

Facts about True Foreigners invest in Manhattan New York Real Estate.

Foreign National buyers and investors are majority of our clientele, we often have to explain to the buyers about the Manhattan housing market, which consist of Condominiums and Co-Ops. Often, we encounter the question....

"Can a Foreign National Buyers and Investors buy a property in a co-op?"

Co-ops are 90% or more of New York Real Estate. Co-op buildings are governed by Co-op Boards, which make every esseential decision about the building and set building house rules and policies. Among those decisions, Co-Op board of directors approve every potential purchaser.

Foreign National Buyers or Investors to buy an apartment in a co-op building are not easy for several reasons:

  1. Co-op purchaser approval takes weeks -- if not months -- and is a rigorous and notoriously difficult process. The majority of co-ops only approve buyers with New York employment, US income tax and excellent credit history in the US. The law doesn't require a co-op to even provide an explanation for a potential buyer's rejection.
  2. There are often restrictions on how much financing a buyer can use (for example, no more than a certain percentage of the unit price).
  3. Almost all co-ops restrict the right to sublet your apartment, which makes it unattractive to investors. Usually, co-op apartments cannot be rented out at all or can be rented out for 1 or 2 years after a certain number of years of owner occupancy.
  4. Co-ops regulate your use of the apartment in many other ways... including having guests or performing renovations.
  5. When selling (or renting it out when allowed) a co-op, your buyer will be subject to co-op approval as well, which reduces the number of qualified buyers and therefore reduces the price of your investment.
  6. There are often additional "flip taxes" on the resale of a co-op to discourage speculators.


All these measures are intended to protect interests of other co-op shareholders and make sure that a new buyer is financially stable, and will always be able to pay for monthly maintenance, improvements and expenses of the building. In addition, often residents of co-op buildings often view their building as exclusive clubs and want to make sure that the building attracts only a certain type of people who use it in a certain way that makes all the residents comfortable.

The purchase price of most co-ops is 10-20% lower than that of condos. Monthly expenses (maintenance), on the contrary, are usually slightly higher and include utilities, maintenance expenses, real estate taxes, and the corresponding share in the mortgage indebtedness of the building... if the building has a mortgage loan. In addition to the mortgage interest on their own loan, co-op shareholders can deduct their portion of the corporation's real estate tax from their taxable income.


Still, co-ops can be attractive for those who would like to use the apartment as a primary residence or as a pied-a-terre (part-time stay). For the most part, co-ops are older (prewar) buildings with beautiful authentic features, fireplaces, high ceilings, moldings... and sometimes even their own gardens.

new york condominiums

  1. To Read More on Foreign Nationals buying Manhattan New York city Real Estate Click below links:
  2. Manhattan Real Estate Condominiums and Co-Ops
  3. Foreign National Buyers Buying in Manhattan New York city Must Read.
  4. Foreign National Buyers Friendly Buildings.
  5. Purchase procedure of Manhattan Real Estate.

If you are looking for a Real Estate Professional who understands Foreign Nationals buying in Manhattan New York city Real Estate and are looking for the right investmentment, or are selling your property contact Eileen Hsu or Morgan Evans at (212)321-7122 or email us at:

disclaimer: We are not a bank and we cannot loan you or your broker any financing. We work with the top banks and borkerages in the country and can put in front of the best loan officers in New York. These requirements listed above is merely to give you an idea of your financing options; not to market our services.

Copyright © 2009 by Eileen Hsu: *Can an foreign buyer or investor buy a property in a co-op in New York City?*

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Eileen Hsu 許雅嵐 (email: EHSU(@)

Our team specialize in Manhattan New York Condominiums, townhouses, and condops.

We are condominium residents ourselves so we understand the Manhattan New York condominium community. We also enjoy all Manhattan neighborhoods, especially Upper West Side, Lincoln Square, Midtown East, Murray Hill, Financial District, Chelsea, Fifth Avenue, Greenwich Village, Nolita and etc just to name a few. If you or you know someone that may be interested in selling, buying or leasing their Manhattan New York condo, call us today (917)837-8869 or (646)644-6929 and we can discuss your specific Real Estate goals.

Manhattan New York Condo Specialists or Chinese Speaking Real Estate Agent



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Morgan Evans
Douglas Elliman Real Estate - Manhattan, NY

The process for a foreign buyer is definitely quite different and understaning what types of properties will work is very important.

Feb 07, 2009 11:13 PM #1
Eileen Hsu
Douglas Elliman Real Estate - Manhattan, NY

Morgan - Yes absolutely. Sometimes foreigner or out of towner just see the sales prices and think it is very simple. This is a completely different ball game here...!

Feb 08, 2009 12:53 AM #2
Sonny Kwan
Quantum Group Commercial - Residential - Lease Seattle, WA - Mercer Island, WA

If a FRTPA or foreign investor wants to buy in the state of Washington, I'm sure they have to jump through some hoops, but it also depends how much they want it to go through the process

Feb 08, 2009 05:48 PM #3
KB Collins
Keller Williams Associate Broker / Attorney - Bayside, NY

Due Diligence and expertise is essential with these types of deals.  During my time in Beijing I was asked by many there of what was the process of buying property in the US by foreign national.  I soon found out, as you did, it is a labyrinth of twists and turns.  Hats off to you in your endeavor as for me short sales and REO's fulfill me with enough adrenaline.  Best of luck NYC Lawyer.

Feb 27, 2009 10:23 AM #4
Kathy Toth
Ann Arbor Market Center Keller Williams - Ann Arbor, MI
Ann Arbor Real Estate Experts - Kathy Toth Team

Thanks for the post - fast forward to Feb 2010 and I need help with lending institution for Canadian investor - any suggestions for a resource?

Jan 31, 2010 12:17 AM #5
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