RE: Limits to CoHousing
From: Rob Sandelin (robsanmicrosoft.com)
Date: Mon, 25 Apr 94 16:05 CDT
Bruce A. Duda asked:

>How are houses or residences remarketed, what kind of stresses on the
>social system and the financial reserves of both individuals and the
>group dose it create?
>How do groups deal with these issues and how they network to find new
>members?

                                
Marketing Cohousing, especially after build out, is a new area of 
endeavor.  The Winslow Group has had some experience with this and so 
maybe Tom Moench <moench [at] aol.com> could share some wisdom?  At 
Sharingwood the only house we have had for sale, sold to an associate 
member without ever really getting marketed.  We have a number of 
people who come to meetings and hang out and are "friends" of 
Sharingwood, some of them also become associate members.  I would 
suspect this might also be true of other groups?  When an opportunity 
comes along to buy a home, these folks seem to be the logical first 
place to turn to.

One of the issues which we as a movement should watch is the 
relationship differences between those who founded the community and 
those who buy in later.  In discussions with a member of a well 
established Danish group I remember hearing that in their situation 
there was a definite difference in commitment and expectations between 
new and old members and this caused some friction.

One of the things to watch out for would be soft selling the commitment 
requirements while hard selling the benefits. I think a clear written 
document which articulates both would be a good thing to hand out to 
prospective buyers.

Cohousing which uses the condominium, FMNA approved declarations, will 
have little if any actual control over who can buy a home in the 
community.  In which case, making the policies about commitment, 
statements of vision and values, clear to prospective buyers is what is 
going to maintain the community value structure.

In terms of financial / social stresses, It could be a potential 
problem.  If someone has to sell a home for financial viability they 
are perhaps going to want to make the best possible sale environment 
and may not give prospective buyers a whole truth view, especially if 
that works against the potential sale.  In the Sharingwood declarations 
we actually have a requirement that the name, address and phone of the 
purchaser, escrow holder and realtor (if any) be delivered to the board 
within 48 hours of the signing of a earnest money agreement.  In this 
way a comphrensive package which would include our internal covenants, 
vision, policies, etc will be sent, as well as a statement on current 
assessment dues. (Assessment debts survive sale).

This package of information (which doesn't yet exist but is being 
drafted) could very well de-rail a sale if the owner-seller didn't give 
the whole picture to the prospective buyer. I would imagine in this 
case it would cause the seller to be rather upset. (although someone 
would have to buy a home, site unseen, to not get at least some clue 
about what we are about, there are bulleton boards with info scattered 
around the community, not to mention all the kids and other adults 
around doing things.)

The resale marketability of cohousing homes is going to be an 
interesting quesiton to watch as time goes by.

Rob Sandelin
Sharingwood COhousing

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