Re: Affordability Specifics
From: Sharon Villines (
Date: Sat, 29 Dec 2012 12:42:40 -0800 (PST)
On Dec 28, 2012, at 5:18 PM, Gloria Hoffman <hoffman1 [at]> wrote:

> We were hoping for prices in the $200 thousands for the smaller units, but
> costs are in the $300 thousands.  It seems that any new construction will be
> way more expensive than existing house costs and that the only feasible
> alternative is to renovate an existing building.

This is typical. Unless you are way out in the country, land values are just 
too high to support a small condo building. Retrofit can be fabulous 
design-wise, however. Eastern Village is in a formerly abandoned office 
building of the concrete floors with very high ceilings type. It has many 
features that no one would have thought of like dispersed common facilities 
throughout the multi-story building. Little nooks with seating areas and 
shelves of books. Others that today's developers can't afford like ceilings 
high enough to make lofts.

By the way, the definition of small condo by the local property managers 
association is under 400 units. That makes the regular definition of condo 
above 400. We've been told our common areas are so large that in conventional 
development it would require building 400 units to support the cost.

> We have also been told that banks are currently not willing to lend money
> for building condominium developments.

I wouldn't take this too seriously. "Banks" is too global, for one thing. Not 
all banks are the same. And walking in with 75% of the units sold is not usual 
in condominium developments.

If it is true that they are not financing new developments, it would probably 
because they are overbuilt and not selling. This may be an opportunity to 
insert cohousing on one or two floors of a building. That would give you the 
advantage of a building that is already financed and a developer who knows how 
to get the changes done that you might like. 

AND a huge advantage when it comes to maintenance and little things like 
building staff that cohousing communities can't otherwise afford. After 
visiting my daughter in Manhattan where her large condo has a doorman and other 
staff on duty all the time at her beck and call, I dream of someone to call 
when things go wrong. They even worked through Hurricane Sandy when the whole 
building was dark and cold.

Sharon Villines
Takoma Village Cohousing, Washington DC

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