Re: sales policy
From: Carol Agate (
Date: Thu, 25 Jul 2013 15:02:48 -0700 (PDT)
Now that I got to the end — would you like a place to stay when you pass 
through Cambridge? I think we met when I took the bus tour of your area, or 
maybe at the convention.


On Jul 19, 2013, at 2:13 AM, Raines Cohen <rc3-coho-L [at]> wrote:

> Mabel and Carol,
> Perhaps you could share something about the policies at Cornerstone and the
> challenges they create. I'm particularly interested in examples like this
> where "laws of unintended consequences" result from two policies that on
> their own seem fine. Other communities I know have run into issues around
> resales via foreclosure.
> The most successful cohousing neighborhoods I have seen in this regard have
> some combination of:
> * Ongoing efforts to build a pool of future members by hosting tours, doing
> education, inviting people to meals/meetings
> * A clear (but most often voluntary) process for homebuyers to get familiar
> with the community, and vice versa
> * A team assisting/leading so it's not all on the departing member, who has
> the least interest in the ongoing sense of community
> * A 'buddy' system to provide context and connection for a new household,
> plus planned/designed activities that get people to connect
> household-to-household and person-to-person outside of full-group meetings
> and meals.
> * Solid decision logs that are revisited so you have a legislative history
> and context, plus a straightforward system to re-open decisions and
> actively incorporate/seek out a new member's views on issues.
> * Transfer fees (the most controversial and hard to institute afterwards,
> but highly valuable) so that the community can get paid upon resale,
> allowing it to invest in outreach and even pay members to do some of the
> work of training/recruiting -- providing the on-ramp.
> Rights of First Refusal are powerful tools, which can create their own
> effects on the relationship of buyer and seller and community even when
> they are not used. They also invite additional scrutiny from some
> government and banking institutions as to whether they are being used in
> discriminatory fashion, as they were historically to keep now-protected
> minority groups out of neighborhoods, and so even when written with the
> most positive intent, they can lead to delays or challenges in financing,
> inadvertently making it harder for some buyers to get in.
> Our home community (Berkeley cohousing in California, near San Francisco)
> has had no resales in the last decade, and we don't bother with a waiting
> list, and our prices are capped below market, and our buyers are subject to
> income limitations verified by the city's housing department, so we're not
> a good example. However, five of the last six resales have been to people
> active in a forming/umbrella group (many who started as renters in this
> community), so we may have a model for another path, one that could perhaps
> be called a "farm team" or "reverse takeover" model of cohousing
> development.
> Raines Cohen, Cohousing Coach and Cohousing California/East Bay Cohousing
> community organizer
>  with my wife Betsy Morris in Vienna, Austria, visiting the incredible
> Lebensraum cohousing neighborhood (over 20 acres with farm plots, a
> volleyball court and soccer field, pool, PassivHaus energy-efficent design,
> and extensive glassed-in halls reminding us of Windsong near Vancouver,
> Canada), wrapping up a six-week trip including the International Communal
> Studies Association gathering at Findhorn in Scotland (home to a
> just-moving-in cohousing neighborhood) and the Global Ecovillage Network
> gathering in the Swiss Alps, full of fresh ideas about the intersection of
> spirit, ecology, and community.
> P.S. I'l be passing through Cambridge the weekend after next, in case you'd
> like me to stop by for a conversation about this topic.
> On Fri, Jul 19, 2013 at 4:44 AM, Mabel Liang <mabel [at]> wrote:
>> I think that Carol is specifically unhappy with our wait list policy and
>> its intersection with our right of first refusal.
>> On Thu, July 18, 2013 5:50 pm, Carol Agate wrote:
>>> Our sales policy isn't working well, and I'd like to avoid reinventing
> the
>>> wheel if I can plagiarize instead. Please send me a copy of your unit
>>> sales policy if you love it and feel it's brought in good cohousers to
>>> your community.
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