Re: Developer Model of Co-housing
From: Sue Ellen Hiers (
Date: Thu, 3 Sep 2015 14:13:53 -0700 (PDT)
Actually they have engaged co-ho professionals which prompts the question who 
exactly do they represent. And should the rest of the group have 
representation?  We have an LLC. The co-ho consultant is in the process of 
coming up with a budget. To become a member we make an unsecured loan of $5000 
to the LLC in addition to a non-refundable membership fee of $500.In the last 
few weeks on this listserv a co-ho group announced they had disbanded and sold 
off their assets. If that were to happen in this case the LLC would not have 
any assets (assuming the collected money had been spent).
Several years ago I was involved with a short lived developer co-ho effort 
where the money was put in an escrow account rather than being an unsecured 

I would be much more comfortable if their consultant had come up with a legal 
plan that protects all parties that we could read and digest before asking for 
money. Unfortunately it feels like a high pressure sales pitch that if you 
don't act now then you'll lose out on this or that savings or options. Which 
again if these were not my friends I would not give it a second thought.  
 Regards, Sue Ellen 

      From: Ann Zabaldo <zabaldo [at]>
 To: Sue Ellen Hiers <ncdl [at]>; "cohousing-l [at]" <cohousing-l [at]> 
 Sent: Thursday, September 3, 2015 4:08 PM
 Subject: Re: [C-L]_ Developer Model of Co-housing
Hi Sue Ellen again!

Rereading your email it seems that you don't have any legal entity or any legal 
documents or any development plans.

What do you have in place right now?

If your friends haven't done development in the past I strongly suggest you 
work with one of the many Cohousing professionals on this list.  

I'm often bemused  by the number of people who decide to develop a piece of 
property they own without much knowledge of the landmines that are buried in 
the development timeline at every twist and turn.  If I needed an appendectomy 
I could certainly go to the library and get a book on 

"DIY appendectomy".  I might even pull off the surgery but why would I try it 
when they're experts out there who do this all the time?  And they have a much 
better recovery rate…

Ann Zabaldo
Takoma Village Cohousing
Washington DC

Sent from my iPhone

> On Sep 3, 2015, at 3:50 PM, Sue Ellen Hiers <ncdl [at]> wrote:
> Are there any best practices for the situation where one party (call this 
> person the developer) owns the land?  My heart wants to be a part of such a 
> forming co-ho but my brain says too much is undefined for money to start 
> changing hands. And what is defined is unsettling. In fact if I didn't know 
> the developers I would not even consider it. 
> How can lawyers/consultants/architects, represent both sides of this 
> transaction? By that I mean the money changing hands will be used to add 
> value to the land (zoning changes, etc) that the members have no title to. 
> Should the non-developer members hire their own lawyers/consultants to 
> represent their interest? Should liens be put on the land for the value 
> added?  How can the group be protected in the event of the developer's death 
> or incapacity? This model of co-ho seems ripe for affinity fraud because it 
> appears to be based only on trust. Again the owners of the land (who are not 
> professional developers) are long time friends of mine so I am not suggesting 
> there is any fraud here.I would like to know what others who have faced or 
> are facing this model have done.
>  Regards, Sue Ellen
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