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Even White-Glove Co-ops Are Trying to Woo Millennials

Upper East Side, Manhattan

Wooing Millennials

The co-op board at 885 Park Avenue now allows financing up to 50 percent (image via Google Maps).

April 30, 2019

Co-op boards in pre-war buildings – that is, those built before the Second World War – are known for being some of the starchiest and most demanding in New York City. That, according to Forbes, is showing signs of changing. 

Some sellers of pre-war apartments and their co-op board gatekeepers have been taking notice of a significant change in demographics: millennials, people between the ages of 23 and 38, now make up the fastest-growing segment of the homebuying market. As a result, some co-op boards have begun easing stringent financial requirements and upgrading facilities with an eye toward attracting this youngish cohort. 

While white-glove co-ops have historically permitted buyers to finance a very limited percentage of the purchase price, says Tania Isacoff Friedland of Warburg Realty. Both 885 Park Avenue and 635 Park Avenue have revised their financing requirements. "Most millennials understand the time-value of money and want to take advantage of historically low interest rates," Isacoff Friedland says. "Co-op boards have had to adapt to a changing market environment, and in turn, boards that previously permitted little or no financing have revised their policies and now permit 50 percent financing. While these boards still look to see strong liquid assets and healthy incomes in their prospective shareholders, they have tried to incentivize buyers." 

The boards at some pre-warco-ops have also relaxed their rules to allow gifting, with parents gifting the down payment or money for the entire purchase, or allowing co-purchasing, with names of both the parents and the adult children on the stock and lease, says Gill Chowdhury of Warburg. 

Several pre-war buildings have been embarking on renovation projects, redoing lobbies and adding roof decks and play rooms to entice millennial buyers who are looking for more luxury amenities. Lisa Chajet of Warburg says her own Emery Roth-designed prewar co-op building on the Upper West Side recently added a gym and a backyard and is in the process of automating the elevator that’s still driven by an elevator operator. After all, no two words are more old-school than “Floor, please?”

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