Upper Manhattan Real Estate Update: HDFC Coops As First-Time Buyer Homes

February 28, 2023

Robert ‘Robb’ Pair

Welcome to the sixth Harlem Lofts Real Estate Update for Harlem World Magazine!

Harlem Lofts is a boutique real estate firm incorporated in 2002 and located at 272 Lenox Avenue. Using a Research-based strategy, we keep a sharp focus on Seller representation while maintaining an extensive database of well-qualified Buyers.

Our 2023 Upper Manhattan Real Estate Report and accompanying video are now available – you can sign up for a free copy of the Report at https://harlemlofts.com/market-report/, and watch the video at https://tinyurl.com/HLIYouTube .

This article will focus on Housing Development Fund Corporation cooperatives (HDFC coops), a sector of the market that gives first-time residential Buyers an excellent opportunity to own their first home, while deterring investors and potential absentee landlords. As such, HDFCs represent part of the fabric of the Upper Manhattan community.

From the 1970s to the present day, New York City has acquired residential buildings in financial distress, and has rehabilitated them and given the tenants the opportunity to own their apartments. Currently, over eleven hundred HDFC coops comprise a significant part of the City’s affordable housing. They benefit from reduced real estate taxes and affordable pricing, in exchange for strict income, primary residence and resale (‘flip tax’) restrictions which typically have a 25-year duration.

Let’s look at the pros and cons of owning an HDFC coop:

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  • Affordable purchase cost (see below)
  • Low monthly common charges
  • Part of the fabric of the neighborhood


  • Income restrictions – varies by coop, from 30% to 165% of New York City Area Area Median Income (see below)
  • Primary residence requirement – subletting is typically restricted, the Owner is expected to live there
  • Resale restrictions – if the apartment is sold, a percentage of the profit goes to the coop

Income restrictions for HDFC coop purchases are at the core of the City’s affordable housing policy. The income cap for a Buyer to qualify is based on the percentage of the NYC Area Median Income (AMI, $120,100 in 2022). There are several brackets, ranging from income restrictions as low as 30% AMI, to as high as 165% AMI.  

Prices for HDFC apartments vary accordingly – for example HDFC condos in the 165% AMI bracket may have a 15%-40% discount versus free market condominium units built at the same time and in similar condition, while units in lower %AMI brackets become progressively cheaper as the income restrictions become more stringent.

Additional information is also available from HDFC, at https://www.nyc.gov/site/hpd/services-and-information/hdfc.page

Final Thoughts

We hope you enjoy this article! Our understanding of the markets puts us in a unique position to help our clients.

Robert ‘Robb’ Pair, Harlem Lofts Inc.

Harlem Lofts Inc. is a boutique real estate firm incorporated in 2002 by our founder Robert ‘Robb’ Pair. We are located in the former studio space of the famous Harlem Renaissance photographer, James Van Der Zee. The firm covers all major residential property transaction types in Upper Manhattan and is the acknowledged expert in Upper Manhattan real estate. Harlem Lofts Inc., 272 Lenox Avenue in Harlem, New York, 917.791.6986, robert.p@daniel-tlemlofts.com, https://harlemlofts.com/info@harlemlofts.com

Photo credit: 1-2) Harlem Lofts.

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