RE: I'm frustrated/LCD
From: Rich Lobdill (
Date: Wed, 8 Jul 1998 12:21:05 -0500

Many times I have tried (sometimes successfully) to bite my tongue when we have 
focused on what I consider the financial 'Least Common Denominator' factor and 
I can share in your frustration.  I think that living without amenities which 
you could have if everyone in your group had the same financial strength that 
you seem to have is one of the compromises of cohousing.

In our case, we have had some charter members with many years of effort (and 
risk) come to the conclusion that as the prices continued their inevitable 
rise, they were simply not going to be able to qualify to buy their house. We 
solved that to some degree by building into our budget a fund for 'soft second' 
mortgages (of course, building it into the budget means that the common costs 
increase). This was only offered to those who had put some years of effort into 
the project. The soft second actually is a reduction in purchase price of the 
house and becomes a balloon loan which only gets paid back at the time in the 
future when the borrower sells her/his house. The interest on the loan is 
calculated by the difference in initial vs. subsequent selling price. So 
someone could borrow $10K and if they sell there house in 5 years for 20% more 
than they paid, the loan repayment would be $12K (paid to the homeowners 

It can certainly be looked at as a subsidy. In our case I feel it was a 
win/win. People who made the project happen were still able to afford to live 
there AND we could leave in some of the amenities (for instance we as a group 
were very committed to leaving our well appointed  common house intact) which 
make the whole place special.

Rich Lobdill
Founding Member
Tierra Nueva Cohousing.
Oceano, CA

-----Original Message-----
Sent:   Tuesday, July 07, 1998 8:41 PM
Subject:        I'm frustrated

I'm really frustrated right now and, well, y'all get to listen to a bit of

To me, Cohousing isn't about how cheaply I can live, it's about how well
can I live.

I had high hopes for a local cohousing group, but tonight they made a
decision that I can't see an effective way to make work.  There's a family
of four who said they would join if they could have a house for $80K.
Well, to get the cost down to that level (they are looking at a 4
bedroom), a lot of corners will have to be cut.  The building materials
will have to be cheap, the insulation will have to be reduced, the
appliances will need to be less efficient and the common house will have
to be scaled way back (assuming everybody pays an equal proportion).
Forget about a nice swimming pool, a good workshop, a stable for horses
(somebody wants a horse) and a number of other amenities.

With that kind of target for a 4 bedroom house, I (as a single person)
would be looking at a cost of less than $70K for a smaller house for
myself.  Why?  My current house is appraised at over $130K and I could
easily afford over $200K.  I WANT to spend the extra money that a very
energy efficient house will cost.  I WANT to spend the money that a
WONDERFUL common house will cost.  I insist on spending the money for a
really good workshop.  I really like the idea of an Olympic size swimming
pool.  I don't think it's going to happen with this group.  Sigh.

I really want to live in cohousing, but, so far, I'm striking out.

At the cohousing workshop here in Austin, I asked Chuck Durrett "What do I
have to give up to live in cohousing".  He didn't really have a good
answer, his passions are different from mine.

Please let me know your thoughts. 

-- Matt

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