Re: VACANCY RATE POLL - Is Cohousing Overbuilt? How many vacancies at your community?
From: Ellen Keyne Seebacher (ellepobox.com)
Date: Mon, 11 Aug 2008 11:28:53 -0700 (PDT)
> I noted on a few sig lines, promotion of available units.
>
> [overbuilding, "builder/developers", et cetera]

I'm afraid this makes me a little cranky.

Mosaic Commons has been together for *eight years*.  We optioned and
lost several sites before I joined the group in 2003.  In 2005 we
were finally offered the right piece of land, though under terms that
required us to build (in conjunction with Camelot Cohousing) 25%
"affordable" (under state law 40B) units, the costs of which were to
be absorbed by our market-rate purchasers.  And as Fred Olson notes,
there are a lot of fixed costs to spread out over a pool of owners
when you've been together for a while.

But when we planned our 68 units for Sawyer Hill EcoVillage -- 34 in
Mosaic, 34 in Camelot -- the economy was still in pretty good shape.
(I thought my family would have money left over for the kids' college
fund when we sold our previous house and paid for our unit in Mosaic.)
We crossed our fingers for it staying that way, as we wended our way
through the years-long process of getting state and town approvals on
the project and finally began construction last year.  But it didn't.

The housing market imploded *after* most of our equity members had
invested years of toil, sweat and money.  Some of us lost our shirts
selling previous homes in order to move into Sawyer Hill (me, I'll be
taking out a fair-sized mortgage).  And a lot of folks who'd love to
join us right now are upside-down on their current mortgages, having
difficulty selling existing homes, or in a precarious position with
family finances.

It has nothing to do with "oversupply" of cohousing -- if the economy
were in good shape we'd have been sold out long ago.  We just had the
bad luck to be completing construction during the nadir of the market. :/


And yes, we do still have homes available (http://sawyerhill.org/),
both for market-rate purchasers and for folks eligible under 40B.  (For
details on the latter, see http://sawyerhill.org/40b .)  We're in a
lovely spot in New England, and if you're interested in cohousing in
this part of the world we'd love to have you. :-)


        Ellen Seebacher
        Mosaic Commons / Sawyer Hill EcoVillage (Berlin, MA)
        http://www.mosaic-commons.org

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