Re: Two monthly fees: Homeowners (HOA) and CoHo Assn
From: Alice Alexander (
Date: Mon, 16 Feb 2015 05:01:13 -0800 (PST)
Many thanks to these good comments from folks. To Phil's suggestion:
*I think CohoUS could do us a service by collecting and compiling real
financial information from established communities*.
That is a great idea, although complicated - $300 a month in a rural area
does not equate to $300 in metro; not to mention how do we count apples to
apples, given every community has unique inclusions, with some including
reserve fund with monthly assessment for example, others not. Would a
volunteer be willing to take this on, to collect this info? and how to
create a baseline for comparison?

On Sun, Feb 15, 2015 at 9:42 AM, R Philip Dowds <rpdowds [at]> 

> 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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Alice Alexander
Executive Director <>
[image: The Cohousing Association]

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