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Co-ops mean you own a share of the building and you don’t actually own the interior walls of your unit, unlike a condo.
A co-op is like a country club and you have to be approved. like all country clubs, some are fancier (740 Park) than others. A condo, anybody who has the money can move in (the only way the condo can stop the sale is if they buy the unit themselves and they never do). You have to go naked to the co-op board, not just your financials (and all of it) but personally. There is even an interview (and at 740 Park, a lot more…they turned down Madonna just for the publicity and it was the “wrong type” to be at 740 Park). A condo has some of this, to some extent, but if you come in all cash, especially at $3000+/sqft condos, it doesn’t matter (remember, the condo board can’t refuse a buyer, unless they buy the unit, which they won’t). Oh, yeah, no prestigious co-ops allow foreigners to buy. Enter condo:
Back in the day, almost no condos exists in Manhattan (especially in the ultra luxury market). That changed with the success of 15 Central Park West (colloquially, 15 CPW). Now they are building Billionaire’s Row, literally right behind 15 CPW, starting with the Time Warner Center (Per Se, Mandarin Oriental, etc are there, and it is completed many years ago…some others are still being constructed). And now 432 Park and 530 Park, on the UES (there is the Bloomberg Building which is already complete).
Now rich people from elsewhere come, buy a unit in an LLC or trust and no one knows who actually owns it (not even the realtor who represented the buy) and nobody ever uses the unit (some get rented out for $30k+ a month). It is better to have your apartment lose 20% of its value than have 100M of assets taken from you by your government. And most likely, the apartment value will increase some (or a lot, see penthouse sale of 15 CPW).
NYTimes articles for how condos being built changed Manhattan real estate and as a result, the fabric of Manhattan itself, for the worse; http://www.nytimes.com/2015/02/08/nyregion/stream-of-foreign-wealth-flows-to-time-warner-condos.html It is long so at least read the summary of the five days of reporting on this issue…
Was that clear? It’s a complex topic but I hope that succinctly answers it and the analysis gives you my point of view. And to be clear, I can afford 432 Park, or 740 Park, but probably wouldn’t get into 740 Park because it isn’t my crowd and I know one of the co-op board people and we don’t get along. I live in a townhouse I bought on the UWS, side stepping condos and co-ops completely.