Affordability -- a new leaf
From: mtracy (
Date: Sat, 27 Aug 94 20:57 CDT
Rob Sandelin writes (about banks):
>Banks don't care too much about anything other than resaleability, 
>that is if they have to assume a property, they want to be sure they can 
>sell it quickly.

Munn Heydorn writes (about banks):
>There is concern for design and other matters to the extent that they
>affect marketability.

Pablo Halpern writes:
>If you want banks to loan money for solar collectors ... I don't think this 
>forum is the best place to address these issues.  ... 

<Pablo, your list of social problems cohousing is expected to solve is a gem.
It would be great if you sent it to <cohousing magazine> or took it to the 
upcoming conference in Boulder.>

I agree that the bank's concern is largely about their ability to make a 
quick sale if the mortgage is defaulted.  That seems fair to me.  But this 
suggests that the bank has a great deal to say about design.

The business of the Uniform Building Code, and all those inspectors who visit 
during construction, is to make sure that the house is safe.  They don't care 
at all if it is marketable.  The business of the bank is to make sure it's 
marketable.  Some examples.

1. Your house is built, but the drywalls aren't up.  You are going to put 
them up yourself.  The inspector hands you a certificate of occupancy so you 
can live there, but the bank refuses to convert the loan from construction to 
mortgage until the walls are up.

2. You want to put in passive solar collectors.  The bank doesn't like the 
idea of blocking windows with brick walls.  Will you get the loan?

3. You want to get an experimental permit and build your house from straw.  
Will the bank agree?

4. You want to cluster homes in one corner of the property.  You want to make 
them a little smaller than the average home in the area.  The bank has never 
heard of cohousing.  Will you get the loan?

Maybe you can shop around and find an amenable bank.  Maybe you can educate 
your bank.  Note that the question is not whether the bank will loan you 
money for solar collectors, but whether the bank will loan you money for a 
house designed to be used with solar collectors (no matter who pays for 

Anyway, I am talking about affordability, and <not> affordable housing.  To 
make this clearer...

I am <not> talking about qualifying for a loan, federal grants, subsidies, 
outright gifts, being a burden, winning the lottery.

I <am> talking about fiscal responsibility, social responsibility, frugality, 
sharing, and living lightly on the earth.  (I am not talking about poverty.)

I am talking about the role cohousing has to play in this, and how we might 
arrive at this goal.

<To be continued>
Martin Tracy          mtracy [at]          Los Angeles, CA

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