What if a member wants to move out of the community and sell his or her home?

Any household leaving the community can legally sell its property to anyone it chooses, except in a few cohousing communities in the U.S. that are structured as cooperatives. Some groups maintain a “right of first refusal,” which means that the seller must offer his or her home for purchase by the community or to an individual or individuals within the community before putting it on the open market. In other communities, residents sign a voluntary agreement that they will not lease or sell their house to a person or persons who do not wish to participate fully in the community. Many have make use of the Cohousing Marketplace on this website to buy, rent, and sell their cohousing homes.

Some groups maintain a waiting list of people interested in being informed if a home becomes available. The seller and the rest of the community will benefit if everyone lends a hand in finding new owners. When it comes to resales, experience has shown that homes in cohousing have appreciated faster than the market as a whole.

Waiting lists "age" rapidly; keep in touch!

In my experience seling a unit in one cohousing neighborhood after moving into another (and helping people sell and rent units in other communities), simply accumulating names/emails/phone #'s and waiting for an opening is not very helpful, for a few reasons:

  • People get onto a list when they're interested in buying, and are not likely to be ready to move quickly months or years later.
  • People looking for new housing are likely to have moved by the time you contact them, so the phone # has probably changed.
  • Email addresses quickly become outdated
  • Getting through spam filters is increasingly hard
  • People forget that they were even interested!
  • Someone interested in a 4BR will probably not be able to squeeze into your 1-2BR for sale

A more effective strategy can be to invite prospective members to come visit for a tour or meal... heck, put them to work cooking and/or cleaning! Let them meet people and get onto an "interest list" that you regularly email to. Share contacts with other nearby communities, if any. Use the tools on this site, including classified advertising and mailings, to get the word out.

Raines Cohen, Cohousing Coach
at Berkeley (CA) Cohousing

P.S. Some other helpful member comments related to this topic can be found under the topic Is there a screening process?.