Re: Websites for communities - required?
From: Sharon Villines (
Date: Sun, 12 Jan 2014 10:52:20 -0800 (PST)
On Jan 12, 2014, at 1:08 PM, Fred H Olson <fholson [at]> wrote:

> These days communities who need to market themselves (recruit members
> / sell units) will find having a web site about themselves to be
> helpful.  But communities that have a stable membership will have less
> need for one.  Some such communities are happy to live without self
> promotion. Indeed given reports of "visitor fatigue", I suspect some
> consciously choose to keep a low profile.

I certainly agree with visitor fatigue! We ran into a problem with no publicity 
-- and we do have a rather large website. It isn't just about our community but 
also about the neighborhood and the city, and about cohousing.

The problem was that our notification list was depleted and out of date when 
several units became available. It was also into the recession so the market 
was very tight. Owners for the first time began to list with realtors and even 
though some of us, Ann Zabaldo among them, they continued to hand out the key 
to other people and other things we had asked them not to do. Not a huge issue 
but not what we were comfortable with. (One was a neighbor and much better.)

THEN the realtors told owners to not even tell us who the people were who had 
contracts on the units. We wanted to meet them and be sure they knew what they 
were getting into. The realtors cannot by professional standards tell us, but 
to tell the owners they couldn't was absurd. The realtors had also not known 
that we have a right of first refusal clause. How do we exercise that if we 
have no knowledge.

To say well, "that is the sellers responsibility" doesn't get the dishes washed 
and dried. Sellers have an interest in selling and a lot of other things to 
worry about. In one instance, the seller was the uninvolved husband of an 
involved member who had recently died. He had no idea what he owned or what the 
policies were. He told someone they could allow their dog to run free when we 
were finalizing a pet policy that clearly said they couldn't and it was against 
the law.

So after a couple of poorly handled sales, we formed a resale pod that now 
consults with sellers, prospects, and buyers, and does some outreach. We have 
re-instituted our Orientation program.

The last two sales were immediate -- sooner than the owners could manage even. 
That may have been because of the uptick in the market but they were 
accomplished without agents, which made us all happy.

The website remains as more than a resale facilitator. It satisfies curious 
neighbors and makes us feel more neighborly. And our own members use the links 
to city services and attractions. Of courses, DC is a little more complex than 
many cities and we do have visitors who come here for more than us.

Sharon Villines
Takoma Village Cohousing, Washington DC

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