Many of the apartment buildings in cities are actually owned by the residents, and they are usually formed into cooperatives. Each of the residents owns their own apartment as a home, and they generally elect a board of residents to oversee the common areas of the building. There will be a set of rules drawn up for everyone to follow, but they can arrange their private space to match their tastes. The restrictions can be few or many, and they often change over the years. Buying into a building is a huge decision, so it can take time to make a purchase.
The majority of cooperative apartment buildings have already been established, so those buying into buildings now are generally buying from a current owner. Some of the apartments are those left behind as an inheritance, and they are often in need of updated. Those who own them would rather move on to other lodgings, so they are willing to sell their apartment. The first step is to speak to the board to see what their requirements are for ownership, and then they must interview perspective buyers.
The board of residents must agree to the sale, so prospective buyers may face a lengthy interview process. The work of the board is to find residents who will respect the current rules and mix with the other tenants amicably, and it is not always easy. Young people trying to buy into a building of older residents are not always welcome, and it can be an important job for the board to discourage them.
When a new buyer is finally approved, it can take them up to a year to finish remodeling their new home. There are some people who move in immediately, but many new residents want to ensure their home is completely ready before they begin their own lifelong occupation.