Re: waiting list advice
From: David Mandel (
Date: Sat, 26 Jul 1997 23:29:14 -0500
JOHN GREENE of Lake Claire CoHousing in Atlanta asked about waiting list
policies for potential future secondary buyers.

>What we've
>done so far is ask people to read the CoHousing book, along with our packet
>and any other literature, attend at least four different meetings
>(preferalby a mix of social and business ones), and put down a
>non-refundable, good-faith deposit ($125).  Then they're on the list and if
>a house comes up for sale they get notified before it goes on the market
>and they have a certain amount of time (depending on the homeowner's
>situation) to make a bid.  If no residents or waiting list folks make a bid
>that the homeowner is willing to go for, it's realtor time.

It strikes me as a lot to ask ($125) for no guaranteed anything except
advance notice of a house for sale. I'd be very careful to put in writing
what this is and is not buying. But if you then have people willing to pay
up, I see no likely legal problem (though for this and everything else I'll
say you should check with someone in your state to be sure) and it speaks
well of the desirability of your community if people are willing to do
>        We have not been comfortable with having any particular voting
>amongst ourselves on potential wait listers -- saying "yay" or "nay" to
>them, etc. -- but have preferred to make it a self-selecting process, as it
>was for all of us.  But since we do have bylaws and covenants which we're
>going to be customizing for our place and which new buyers would have to
>sign and agree to, we figure we'll at least include a section about
>cohousing principles and expectations as part of that agreement.  Between
>that and a (hopefully) healthy waiting list, we hope to maintain the basic
>cohousing principles and spirit through future generations of buyers.  But
>is that enough?  How have others dealt with this?
>        Then there's the question of what kind of agreement we have amongst
>*ourselves* about how we're going to handle all this.  For now it's just a
>"gentleperson's agreement" that we'll stick to the above process, and I'm
>sure we all would, if we had to sell, because we worked so hard to create
>all this and want to see the community thrive even in our absence.  But
>should we make it part of the bylaws and covenants that each homeowner
>agrees to stick to the process above??  How formal can or should the
>agreement be?

Again, check your state laws. You can write rules and have people sign
them, but anything that attempts legally to restrict an owner's ability to
sell to whom s/he pleases is most likely not enforceable if someone were to
challenge it. Same for rules requiring participation in the community. This
is a real potential problem, I believe, with individual ownership. A
cooperative, on the other hand, can exercise a lot more control in both
>        And finally, are there any legal or ethical problems (fair housing,
>etc.) with any of the above?

Fair housing laws generally forbid discrimination against members of
certain identified categories -- race, gender, religion, disability, others
in some states or cities. It would generally not be illegal to favor
someone who for other reasons would appear to be more likely to fit into
the community. Be careful, though.
David Mandel, Sacramento

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