Re: Two monthly fees: Homeowners (HOA) and CoHo Assn
From: R Philip Dowds (
Date: Sun, 15 Feb 2015 06:42:57 -0800 (PST)
First off:  What’s “high”?  What’s “low”?  This kind of qualitative debate 
suffers enormously from lack of quantitative input.  Some at Cornerstone think 
our annual assessments are “high” — but we have at least one member who moved 
here after living in a variety of conventional condo situations, and thinks our 
assessments are quite “low”.  For instance, we self-manage and self-account, 
which saves us at least $12K a year, probably more.

But on average, cohousers should expect their common expenses to be “high”.  
This is why they moved to cohousing:  Not for the biggest, bestest private 
units they could afford, but for a collaborative lifestyle inclusive of certain 
kinds of sharing.  The spaces in common, the activities in common, cost money 
to build and sustain — unlike, for instance, you grandfather’s condo, which had 
little in common other than the stairs.

Does this impede marketability and sales?  Absolutely, positively it does.  
Most Americans do not want any part of the intentional community lifestyle.  So 
right off the bat, any coho, by aim and choice, has directed its real estate 
asset to a narrow market segment.  If many buyers walk away from a coho 
purchase, it’s not because the HOA assessments are “too high”, but rather 
because these assessments pay for a product that is not wanted.  Except by a 
minority of buyers.

I think CohoUS could do us a service by collecting and compiling real financial 
information from established communities.


> On Feb 15, 2015, at 9:14 AM, Elizabeth Magill <pastorlizm [at]> 
> wrote:
> To be clear almost no cohousing community has two separate fees like ours. We 
> were mandated by the state (or town? details aren't my strength) to make it 
> so the affordable buyers didn't have to "join" anything if they didn't want 
> to.
> AND we are two coho's on the same land, each with different solutions to that 
> requirement. 
> Camelot Cohousing rolled everything into HOA dues and said, there, there is 
> no reason to "join" anything. 
> Mosaic made two separate fees, with the smaller coho amount on a sliding 
> scale, in an effort to have a sliding scale component to our fees. (We had 
> planned to have our HOA dues sliding scale, before we understood that that 
> was legally impossible or impractical or both.)
> On the "truly voluntary" yes, you can really choose not to pay them. We were 
> required to make it so they can use the Common house (they own part of it, of 
> course). But the reality of our situation is we are not near public 
> transportation, by the time we were selling our "affordable homes" cost the 
> same as a depressed market city townhome, and we are far from the 
> only people who wanted affordable homes here were people who were looking for 
> cohousing. So its really voluntary in that people choose where they are on 
> the sliding scale, but no one chooses not to join. (Actually so far I believe 
> the only people who didn't join were market rate buyers who never moved in.)
> I think the valuable question is "what did urban locations who have low HOA 
> fees do to make them low"? Because our high HOA fees certainly hurt our 
> sales. (We have the highest fees around and there were several non-buyers who 
> mentioned the HOA cost as prohibitive.)
> -Liz

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