Re: Looking to Rent, Rent to buy, or Owner Financing to Make a Dream come true!
From: Ann Zabaldo (
Date: Wed, 7 Aug 2013 08:52:17 -0700 (PDT)
Hi all --

Let me add to Sharon's excellent post the notion of retro-fit cohousing:  
buying up houses on one or more blocks and then "tearing down the fences."  
Look for high turnover neighborhoods in the cost category you can afford.  If 
you live in or near a major industrial town such as Baltimore or Detroit ... 
you could basically have your pick of housing stock.

However ... as Sharon pointed out ... it's not so easy.  Yes.  You can get good 
housing stock in rust belt industrial towns at low prices -- and the town would 
be grateful to have you --  BUT you have to consider where you would work.  And 
schools play such a major role in a family's decision to put down roots.  Will 
the school system be acceptable for you?  If you home school or send your 
children to private school or you don't have children this could be a perfect 

Let me also add:  you can do cohousing ANYWHERE.  Right where you are right 
now.  If we put 25% of the effort we put into building cohousing into our 
current living situation I believe we would see a major change in 
neighborhoods, community, people, civic institutions, etc. etc. etc.   If you 
don't know your neighbors ... why not try to meet them?  Here's a website that 
can help:  (There are several of these.  Just 
google "meet your neighbors"

Best --

Ann Zabaldo
Takoma Village Cohousing
Washington, DC
Principal, Cohousing Collaborative, LLC
Falls Church VA

On Aug 7, 2013, at 10:18 AM, Sharon Villines wrote:

>> On Aug 5, 2013, at 2:55 PM, MJWB <mjwyogini [at]> wrote:
>>> I believe
>>> as always, that Cohousing needs to be for everyone, and accessible to 
>>> everyone. This is
>>> not the case right now. I know that Denmark has found a way to integrate 
>>> rentals along with homeowners, and I don't see why it can't be done here in 
>>> the U.S.
> There are many messages about this in the archives which I encourage you to 
> search out. The not-so-simple answer is:
> 1.  Rentals require someone to build a house or condo unit to rent out. Few 
> people who move into cohousing have the funds to do that. It means building 
> and buying two homes - a lot of money upfront.
> 2. Cohousing wants to encourage community and that has meant long term 
> residents. Renters are not regarded as long term renters. And what if raising 
> the rent on your neighbor means they have to move out? Landlords are rarely 
> viewed sympathetically.
> 3. "Outside" investors are discouraged. A community doesn't want to feel 
> dependent on outsiders or in danger of being manipulated by them. This is a 
> realistic concern.
> 4. Most communities are peopled by people who want to design their own homes 
> they way they want them. Building your own home comes at a premium price.
> 5. The emphasis on diversity has been counter productive in the realm of low 
> cost housing. Diversity is embraced by the more highly educated and wealthier 
> among us. Many people want openness and freedom but not so much difference in 
> values and life circumstances. They want to live with people in the "same 
> boat". People who live on minimum incomes want to live with others who are 
> like them and not feel embarrassed about not taking an expensive vacation or 
> any vacation at all. Or not being able to afford to send their children to 
> private schools, etc.
> 6. And housing is a tough market. Period. Cohousing or not.
> My own belief is that it is hard to mix middle and upper income homes with 
> low cost homes. Now or down the road the income disparity begins to weigh on 
> people as some pay more and others less for the same services. During the 
> construction process, expensive amenities that some want begin to creep in. 
> In our community, for example, the units are market rate. The market is 
> rising. Proportionately, the small units have increased in value much more 
> than the large units. I have a two bedroom but it would save me little money 
> to downsize to a one bedroom. And it saves new residents very little to 
> purchase a smaller unit. They are much less affordable than when we moved in. 
> Even two bedrooms have tripled in value in 13 years. If I sold my unit I 
> would make more than I received when I retired from 25 years of teaching in a 
> university.
> Small units are also very popular and sell faster than larger units -- demand 
> increases the relative price. But banks favor large units, two bedrooms are 
> minimum because they are more popular. The exception is cities where many 
> people can't afford more than a 600 or even 500 square foot studio.
> There are a lot of posts in the archives on new technologies, prefab homes, 
> etc., that reduce building costs. Many of them are not allowed by zoning, 
> which favors standard technology and larger homes. Zoning exceptions are 
> possible, however. Cohousing communities of many kinds have obtained zoning 
> exceptions.
> So my advice is to explore new technologies and form your own low cost 
> cohousing community. Make it part of your mission statement that all units 
> will be built to sell below a certain price. And that will mean no amenities 
> beyond good construction and sustainability--traditional sustainability like 
> sun orientation, small sizes, adobe and straw bale, etc. You will attract 
> many people, get lots of interested news media, and have the aid of new/old 
> technology companies. 
> If I were starting over, that is what I would do. I think that is where half 
> the future growth is in housing as well as in cohousing.
> I think the second half, which you might also consider, is in converting 
> regular condo buildings to cohousing. Forming a group within an already 
> existing building. Small condos and floors of big condos have developed the 
> same friendships and supports that cohousing has. It has just taken longer 
> because it wasn't intentional.
> Sharon
> ----
> Sharon Villines, Takoma Village Cohousing, Washington DC
> "Reality is something you rise above." Liza Minnelli
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