Re: Transfer fee when a unit turns over
From: Ann Zabaldo (
Date: Wed, 31 Mar 2021 21:44:35 -0700 (PDT)
Hello all —

As Sharon has pointed out Takoma Village Cohousing in Washington, DC has a very 
robust Resale program.  

I’ve presented on our program at two maybe three CohoUS conferences and via 
zoom for one Northeast Cohousing regional conference.  There’s no way I can 
describe in an email our comprehensive Resale program.  It has grown over the 
last five years due mostly to one of our team members who is absolutely amazing 
at details.  She has created a list for every single step in the process.  The 
more we learn about resales the more targeted the lists become and sometimes 
more numerous if needed.  The important thing is to get the right info to the 
right person at the right time.  My neighbor has a well documented time line 
for when info needs to get to people to reduce feelings of overwhelm.

In cohousing communities, there are always three entities that have an interest 
in a resale:  the Seller, the Buyer and the Community.

Our first and primary objective is to identify potential buyers who are 
educated and informed about cohousing.

Our second objective is to affirm the community has an interest in resales 
because the new buyer will be buying into our community not just buying a 
house.  Plus the #1 reason people buy into Takoma Village is for community not 
a house.  Since “community” is clearly the reason people want to live at TVC 
that “selling point” should be acknowledged w/ a share of the proceeds from the 
sale.  Our homes often sell well above asking,  many are all cash no 
contingency sales, homes have multiple contracts, many sell in 3 days or fewer 
(less? I’m having a grammar meltdown…)

Here are the skeletal details:

We meet w/ the Sellers/Homeowners as soon as possible to go over the resale 
process.  We block out the dates for the whole process.  We go over what 
support the Resale team can give and what work the Seller/Homeowner must do.  
At that meeting we specifically ask for a donation of 3% to be made to the 
community since we will be mitigating the 6% real estate commission.

We have a For Sale By Owner (FSBO) program that allows owners to sell the home 
themselves, capturing the 6% commission a Real Estate company would charge. 

We provide the Seller w/ resources to learn about FSBOs.  

As we are a condominium there are certain rules or milestones that must be met 
for resales which can be challenging.  We smooth that process for Sellers.

We provide templates for the process itself and templates for marketing tools 
such as a flyer.

We provide outreach and education resources such as the quarterly tours to keep 
a healthy, active pool of potential buyers. 

We keep a notification list of all people who wish to be notified of a resale.  

We have a notification strategy for alerting potential buyers including a 
regional Meetup group w/ about 1550 members, trading notification lists w/ 
other cohousing communities in the region, posting to neighborhood lists, 
postings to TVC member’s organizations such as churches, schul, schools, etc.

We have a suggested path for buyers which you will find on our website.

We track the participation of potential buyers so that when they wish to buy we 
can let the home owner and the Board and community know what activities the 
home buyer has participated in to avoid the new buyer being surprised that we 
have expectations around workshare and participation.

After the contract is signed we continue to support the home seller and home 
buyer through settlement when the keys exchange hands.  After that milestone, 
the Orientation POD takes over w/ an equally comprehensive program designed to 
create a smooth transition for the seller and buyer.  The Orientation POD 
coordinates move out and move in dates, getting people on line w/ our intranet, 
helping the new owner(s) w/ whatever they need to get settled.  

Regarding the donation of 3% ...  First, the donation is voluntary.  Some 
people do not donate at all.  Most donate around 1-1.50%   While we still ask 
for 3%  we are grateful for any donation to the community.  But if no 
contribution is made it’s very important to remember that our first objective 
is we want are new neighbors who are well educated about cohousing — people who 
will take up living in cohousing.  And, no surprises for anyone!  As Sharon 
mentioned, we have received more that 

It’s very satisfying to see the number of communities that have adopted some or 
all of our process.  And, there are some communities who have come to a similar 
process on their own …some predating ours.  This says to me we’re on the right 
track w/ this resale process.

One more thing … I wouldn’t rule out Real Estate professionals completely.  
Several of our new homeowners have used agents to help them craft an offer, 
find financing or to see them through settlement.  Buyers Agents are always 
welcome but in general the buyer pays the fee to the agent not the seller.  So 
… since there may be a role for Agents suggest you do as we have done at TVC 
and find one or two agents you work with to make sure they represent cohousing 
accurately.  We were fortunate to identify one who is a relative of one of our 
members.  He works on an hourly basis not a fixed cost or a percentage of the 

This is the short version.  I hope this helps.  :-)

Best --

Ann Zabaldo
Takoma Village Cohousing
Washington, DC
Member, Board of Directors
Mid Atlantic Cohousing
Principal, Cohousing Collaborative, LLC
Falls Church, VA

Do you ever get up in the morning, look at yourself in the mirror and think … 
“That can’t be  accurate.”

NOTE: I am switching back to: zabaldo [at]  Many apologies!  

> On Mar 31, 2021, at 8:01 PM, Sharon Villines via Cohousing-L <cohousing-l 
> [at]> wrote:
> We’ve had no success using realtors. People have tried it but the people they 
> bring aren’t interested. And just doing tours 3-4 times  a year and keeping a 
> notification list seems to do it. Units sell quickly. During the recession, 
> they didn’t but when I looked at the vacancy rate in the neighborhood, ours 
> was the same as theirs.
> I think people would donate because Alicia and Ann are very persuasive. And 
> have no doubts that this is what people should do. It communicates.
> Sharon
>> On Mar 31, 2021, at 7:36 PM, Patricia Lautner <lautnerp [at]> 
>> wrote:
>> Thanks very much for this information.
>> Some of us were worried that if it was voluntary, people wouldn’t make the
>> payment. But at Takoma Village, that’s not really the case is it? Sometimes
>> our sellers do use a realtor but we have a deal with two local realtors who
>> work in conjunction with the community on open houses etc., and only charge
>> the seller 3% because members do a lot of the work. If that were the case
>> at your community, do you think your sellers would still make a
>> contribution?
>> On Wed, Mar 31, 2021 at 6:40 PM Sharon Villines via Cohousing-L <
>> cohousing-l [at]> wrote:
>>>> On Mar 30, 2021, at 9:56 PM, Patricia Lautner <lautnerp [at]>
>>> wrote:
>>>> Do any of the communities on this list have either a transfer fee written
>>>> into your condo docs where a seller is obligated to pay back to
>>>> the community a percentage of the sale price when they leave the
>>> community,
>>>> or have a gifting culture where a large gift gets made when a cohousing
>>>> unit sells?
>>> Our resales and rental pod organized themselves in 2013-14 when it became
>>> clear that a number of units would be turning over in the next year or so.
>>> They designed a schedule of tours and orientations so we have a list of
>>> waiting people who have been oriented at a basic level.
>>> As part of that process, they explain to the owners that the work they do
>>> would cost them 7% of the sales price if they had to hire a real estate
>>> agent. since that amount on selling units would be in range
>>> $28,000-$38,000. As a result everyone (I think maybe one didn’t) has given
>>> several thousand dollars to the special projects fund $5,000-$15,000.
>>> Over the last 6 years that has added up to $100,000+, so we actually have
>>> a capital improvements and special projects fund.
>>> The donation is very nice and helps with the feelings of loss when people
>>> leave — we feel appreciated not just abandoned. And it is a recognition
>>> that the amount they received in exchange for their unit resulted from the
>>> work of all of us. The improvements we have made and the financial
>>> stability of the community is the work of everyone. And integrating new
>>> owners is a lot of work that is left for us to do.
>>> We were not able to even get a discussion on establishing Transfer Fee
>>> Policy of 1% or 2%.
>>> Sharon
>>> ----
>>> Sharon Villines
>>> Takoma Village Cohousing, Washington DC
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