RE: Another damned reporter...
From: Hungerford, David (
Date: Wed, 22 Jun 94 16:13 CDT
Pacheco wanted to know about land ownership etc.

Muir Commons was developed by a development partnership as part of a larger 
(100 acre) subdivision.  Although our group programmed the site 
plan/houses/landscaping, the developers were always there holding the purse 
strings.  We worked with their architect as well as with McCamant and Durrett 
during the design phase (we paid M & D ourselves.)  The developer bore all 
other development costs and sold us our homes after completion.  We all 
basically just took out a mortgage as if we were buying a single family home 
in a new subdivision (we each put up a refundable $1000 deposit to hold our 
homes about 6 months before move-in) .  Because we helped the developers meet 
their "affordable housing requirement," the house prices were set from the 
beginning.  Although only 16 "counted" as affordable units, 7 remaining units 
were sold to group members who couldn't qualify as "affordable" by state 
guidelines for the same below market prices. (income and # in family were the 
criteria; affordability was based on being at or below median income for the 
number in the family for our geographic area)  The 3 "market rate" units 
have their own floor plan; much larger than the other 23. 

Because the units are attached, townhouse style, in clusters of 2,3,and 4, 
our "private lots" have zero lot lines which extend out about 10 feet in 
front and about 25 feet in back of the houses.  The rest of the land is 
common, and like a standard condo, we each own an undivided 1/26th share of 
those grounds and facilities.  All other finanical details are standard 
condo, except that we set our dues lower (after much wrangling with the state 
on our behalf by the developer) because we're self-managed and do our own 
landscaping and maintenance.

The peculiar nature of the below market for-sale affordable 
housing in Davis has made our units probably the only cohousing units in the 
U.S. which are now selling for substantially more than what we originally 
paid.  However, we have had our problems with appraisers.  Just recently one 
couple decided to sell, figured what they thought was a reasonable price, put 
out the word, and had an offer for their asking price within 3 days.  Then 
the appraiser came along, looked at the house, harumphed about the lack of 
garage, only grudgingly went on a very short site tour (again harumph), and 
despite the fact that is has been over a year since the last unit sold (and 
the one for sale now has thousands in improvements compared to that one) and 
during that time we've completed our $30,000 shop, set the "price" at what 
that last unit sold for.  I've picked up on this problem in other postings; 
appraisers just don't know what to do with cohousing, but they make 
judgements anyway, usually in the direction of undervaluing the market.  I've 
always thought that the value of something was what the buyer and seller 
could agree on.  But then again, appraisers (and economists) still believe in 
objective truth, especially when it comes to money. 

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