Re: ratio of least to most expensive unit in cohousing?
From: Sharon Villines (
Date: Wed, 3 Jun 2009 08:42:05 -0700 (PDT)

On Jun 3, 2009, at 9:39 AM, Kristi Barlow wrote:

what is that spread between least and most expensive units in your
community? Our pricing task force's latest work has proposed unit
prices where the largest units (1250 sf) are more than 3.5 times the
price of the smallest (318 sf). I'm wondering how that pattern
compares to other communities?

Our spread was $93,404 for 658 SF to $289,158 for 1921 SF, but the truer comparison is that the SF cost was $135-138 with added amounts for amenities like porches, balconies, etc.

Initial cost variations are in two things -- the quality of finishes, the number and quality of baths and kitchens, and extra amenities. Developers customarily put higher quality finishes in larger units. No matter how small the unit is, it still needs one bathroom and a kitchen.

In cohousing, where the quality is more likely to be the same in all units as ours were, is to calculate:

(1) an over all project cost on a per SF basis,

(2) adjust for a per item or SF cost for kitchens and baths, and

(3) cost of other amenities.

Desirableness, such as distance from the elevator, are difficult because one person's desirable is another's undesirable. Although in NY a view might be an exception.

THE FEELINGS FACTOR: In discussions of money for large vs small units, in both purchase price and setting condo fees, the issue always involves:

(1) fear of not being able to sell the large units if they were too expensive in both price and fees,

(2) a desire to have more children, who come with parents who (1) would want larger units, and (2) couldn't afford the large units.

In both cases this proved to be untrue. Large units are harder to sell because they are more expensive -- large diamonds are harder to sell for the same reason -- but they do sell.

Of our 6 largest units, townhouses with porches, desirably placed on the green, 2 were purchased by single adults, 1 by a couple, 2 by a couple with one child, and one by a single parent with one child. The population of children in these units has not increased in 9 years. One child moved in and one moved out.

A single parent moved into a 750 SF one bedroom with a den. Another single parent in 750 SF adopted two children. Eventually he moved to a three bedroom unit but not right away.

7 of or current 21 children are in smaller three bedroom units of 1500 SF. 1 is in a four bedroom unit. The others are in 825-1500 SF 2 bedroom units

The smaller units have appreciated in value more than the large. A 750 SF sold 6 months ago for $280,000 and the last sale of a four bedroom 1921 SF was about $525,000 at close to the top of the market, although the market in DC has not gone down the way it has in other areas. The larger unit has a designer kitchen and the smaller unit was refinished but had not been well maintained and had construction grade fixtures.

Our largest units are townhouses and people can purchase a single family home in our neighborhood for the same price. This may not be true in NY, however, where the supply of larger units is smaller.

The smaller units will be more desirable because that's how much money people have. But why should people with less money subsidize people with more money? Particularly when those with less are people who have young children and are squishing themselves into small units because that's all they can afford?

Sharon Villines
Takoma Village Cohousing,Washington DC

Results generated by Tiger Technologies Web hosting using MHonArc.