Re: Developer Model of Co-housing
From: R Philip Dowds (
Date: Thu, 10 Sep 2015 11:09:00 -0700 (PDT)
All cohousing projects are in the developer model, and have a developer.  The 
real estate developer is the party who risks time and money expecting to use 
design and construction to promote and sustain a new land use.  If s/he 
succeeds, s/he enjoys the rewards and benefits of this new construction and 
land use; if s/he fails, then s/he has forfeited a considerable amount of time 
and money.  At any point in time, most professional developers have several or 
many opportunities in the works; many will croak before fruition, but a few, 
hopefully, will generate a big return.

Mostly, a formational cohousing group is its own developer.  Like any 
developer, it will need — sooner rather than later — the skills of a realtor, 
architect, land use attorney, and other experts.  Once land is secured, a 
builder (general contractor) may usefully join the team.  Most of these 
experts, however, are not putting time and money at risk; they are getting 
paid.  Or maybe in some cases, working on contingent fee, where they get paid 
nominal amounts up front, and greater amounts when the project reaches a 
certain phase, or state of completion.

So what’s inferred by a “developer model of cohousing”?  If the formational 
group has found a developer entity risking its own time and money, hoping to 
sell the group a finished product at a profit, and ready to take the loss if 
the project never completes, then this group might count itself fortunate.  
Unfortunately, that’s rarely the deal.  Instead, an enterprising entrepreneur 
will seek to sell his/her expertise (and the packaged expertise of its various 
vendors and consultants) for a price — but if the project collapses, there is 
no refund.  If group time and money are at risk, then the group, not this 
entrepreneur, remains the developer.

The question is always, Who is at risk?  The cohousing group that actually gets 
its project done is usually one that has taken some interesting risks.  It’s a 
leap of faith.

Philip Dowds
Cornerstone Village Cohousing
Cambridge, MA

> On Sep 9, 2015, at 12:23 PM, Emilie Parker <emilie.v.parker [at]> 
> wrote:
> Our community which is currently 10 people (8 households) after 2 years
> and we seem to be at a standstill on the land -- while we try to grow our
> group, figure out​ how much money we have for land in our group, find land,
> and build our community spirit.

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