Re: right of first refusal
From: Mac Thomson (
Date: Sun, 15 Oct 2006 05:33:34 -0700 (PDT)
On Oct 13, 2006, Lynn Nadeau wrote:
As market-rate cohousing (legally a mutual-benefit nonprofit with a HOA),
RoseWind  (Port Townsend WA) is vulnerable to resales that could go to
people who are not seeking community. We work hard to facilitate interest expressed via email, visitors, etc. We do our best to have a "supply" of
interested parties, should a resale come available.

AND our experience is that in many cases the people who are leaving are the least concerned with getting the "right" buyers. Maybe they are leaving because they don't like it here; maybe they like it but have to move because of work or family obligations, and need to get the money from house #1 to
pay for house #2 elsewhere, as soon as possible.

We don't have any provision for a right to first refusal, but what we do have is a pretty well defined membership process. The core of it is our Prospective Member Checklist, which requires anyone wanting to become a member to complete various requirements which are all designed to help ensure that the prospect is thoroughly familiar with Heartwood and has contemplated well their decision to move here. Our membership process is completely self selecting, but we want prospects to be making a well considered decision, rather than an impulsive decision perhaps based on some kind of "Wow, we've found utopia" first impression. Because as we all know, life in cohousing is good and often great, but it's not utopia -- and it's not even good for some people. Ideally, we'd like those people to figure it out before making their decision.

I don't think our Prospective Member Checklist is legally enforceable, which I guess could leave us vulnerable in some rare situations. Our experience is that members choose to follow the agreements we make together because of our mutual compact with each other to create this community. This has held true even for members who are leaving because the neighborhood didn't work for them.

The other big safety net piece for us is that no one visiting Heartwood could ever mistake it for a "normal" neighborhood. We've got 24 homes along pedestrian pathways clustered on just a few acres set within 360 acres of open space. Nobody develops rural property that way except folks wanting to live in community. Anyone not wanting to live in community would recognize immediately that Heartwood was not for them. This might not be true of the site design for all cohousing neighborhoods (i.e., it is immediately obvious that it's an intentional community), but it is of ours.

To see our Prospective Member Checklist and Membership agreements:


Mac Thomson

Heartwood Cohousing
Southwest Colorado

 "Sometimes too much of a good thing is wonderful"
                      - Mae West

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