Re: What is your Marketing Budget
From: Sharon Villines (
Date: Thu, 31 May 2012 09:00:55 -0700 (PDT)
On 31 May 2012, at 10:21 AM, R Philip Dowds wrote:

> Zero.  While our Bylaws have tons of stuff to say about community interests 
> in unit sales and occupancy, our tradition has been to leave the whole thing 
> entirely to the private market buyers and sellers.  However, we just went 
> through a (re)visioning process, and one of the themes that emerged was that 
> of being more intentional about community demographics — especially as we all 
> age in place, and run the risk of becoming a retirement home.  So it's 
> possible we'll be moving toward more pro-active marketing.  Maybe.

We also have no marketing budget and don't involve ourselves in sales unless 
asked. We do help on a personal basis to inform friends and one member keeps a 
list of people who have expressed an interest. When he hears that a unit is 
available, the list is notified first via email — no other promises are made to 
them and they don't pay a fee to be added to the list.

While I think communities should involve themselves in sales, particularly 
orienting potential buyers so they properly self-select, money for marketing 
isn't the determining factor in cohousing sales. Perhaps an ad on, but otherwise posting flyers and neighborhood email lists so 
neighbors know, telling friends of residents, and posting to Cohousing-L so 
friends of other cohousing community residents are informed. A notice on your 
website with full information — "Contact Me for Information" doesn't intrigue 
people who may become more interested with the details available.

To my knowledge this has produced all our buyers and renters. One person has 
placed Craig's list ads for a roommate since she rented a bedroom regularly for 
several years. Two sellers have hired real estate agents with no results except 
a delay in sales because when a real estate agent gets involved, residents tend 
to relax efforts because a contract is binding for usually 6 months. 

Hiring agents has also caused friction in the community because the agents knew 
zip about cohousing. Their tours of the property were laughable to 
non-existent, even though they had been informed. It's hard to know if you 
should step in and correct what the agent is telling a seller — like you can do 
whatever you want in the CH, it's as much yours as your home. All you do is 
reserve it for exclusive use.

If you hire an agent, be sure they attend an orientation _and_ an event of some 
kind before you sign a contract so you know they understand that the community 
and the CH are part of the package. And that they can't just go posting huge 
signs on common property like they do with houses. One sign was so big it 
looked like the whole place was for sale.

Sharon Villines
Takoma Village Cohousing, Washington DC

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