Re: marketing question / right of first refusal
From: Kay Argyle (
Date: Thu, 19 Jul 2007 15:59:41 -0700 (PDT)
Wasatch Commons' bylaws also contain a right of first refusal.  The
community is leaning towards the conclusion that the disadvantages (not
qualifying for VA loans etc.) outweigh any advantages, although we haven't
decided if it is worth the expense of modifying the bylaws (lawyers etc.) to
get rid of it.  The community would have trouble coming up with the money to
buy a unit if it did decide to exercise the clause.  

The community helps sellers with marketing.  Some residents have expressed
sentiments similar to yours, that it should be the seller's responsibility.
This overlooks the consequences to the community.  (It is also symptomatic
of the rugged individualist, every-man-for-himself mentality that cohousing
is a reaction to, but never mind.)

We've had enough experience with units that were sold to people without
adequate orientation - and ended up back on the market a year later - or
that sold only because, after a year on the market, another resident bought
it and the welcoming committee found them a tenant, that marketing is now a
standard part of our budget.

For some folks, the concept of cohousing has to percolate, sometimes for
years, before they are ready to take the plunge.  Thus some of the most
effective marketing is about maintaining visibility, rather than selling a
particular unit. We have permanent ads in local alternative publications. We
provide a venue for community council meetings, meet-the-candidate nights,
and permaculture short courses.  We rent booths at neighborhood fairs. We
wangle write-ups in the local paper.  This sort of sustained effort is
unlikely except on a community level.

If it's left totally up to the seller, the best-case scenario is usually
that they waste time and effort on the normal real estate marketing methods
- both their time and that of most of the prospects generated by those
methods.  (Although a real estate agent we worked with near the end of
construction did steer a buyer our way - seven years later.)  If you've got
a marketing committee, over time they learn what works.

The worst-case scenario is that the seller just wants out, or even is
actively hostile, and doesn't care if s/he sells the house to someone who
will be horrified to find themselves in a nest of commie-pinko fag-loving
flag-burning can-recycling recumbent-riding, omigod DEMOCRATS.  (We've run
into a few people in the neighborhood who would have been more welcoming if
we'd been the fundamentalist polygamy cult that was first assumed.)

When a unit is slow to sell, often the seller continues living in the unit
but not really in the community.  They don't attend meetings or meals.
Their emotional absence becomes an uneasy presence in its own right.

We've tried it both ways, and we've been happier with the results we get
from community marketing.


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