FNMA-FHA Request to Address Cohousing in Lender Guidelines

The Cohousing Association of the U.S. is seeking Letters of Support for our effort to have Fannie Mae (FNMA), the Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD), and the Finance Housing Agency (FHA) address cohousing in their lender guidelines. These agencies write the guidelines that determine the underwriting rules for most American home loans. We are asking these agencies to address cohousing in their underwriting guidelines in order to reduce the confusion from lenders. Specifically, we are asking that they include a searchable note that simply states:

Cohousing communities should be evaluated as any other condominium, cooperative, multifamily or single family development would be, depending on the community’s relevant financial and legal structure.

While most cohousing buyers have been able get conventional home loans, many have found it difficult when lenders that are not familiar with cohousing and conclude that it might not be approved for sale on the secondary markets because of FNMA, HUD and FHA guidelines. This has become a bigger issue in the more conservative mortgage market since 2009, despite the fact, most cohousing communities fit all of the requirements for conventional loans.

The more than two decades that cohousing communities have existed in the U.S. have shown that these communities are strong financially, with very few foreclosures even in the most troubled markets during the recession. The strong sense of community and mutual support they create actually reduces financial risk, making these communities even better investments. People who buy in cohousing communities are committed to maintaining a strong community, and often have the support of their neighbors during difficult times.

We are asking you for a Letter of Support that we can submit with our request. Please address your letter, either as one letter addressed to both, or two separate letters, to:

Edward L. Golding
Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary
Dept of Housing and Urban Development
451 7th St. S.W. Room 9270
Washington, DC 20410-8000

Mr. Paul Barretto
Fannie Mae
Single Family Initiatives, Product Management & Development
Customer Engagement | Single Family Mortgage Business

Please send your letter(s) by April 12th to

Katie McCamant
kmccamant [at] cohousing-solutions [dot] com
241B Commercial Street
Nevada City, CA 95959

so we can submit them together with our request.

Your letter should include the following (a sample letter is attached below)

 Your role in the housing world (professional, organizational, personal).
 How you are familiar with cohousing.
 Your experience with cohousing, and how you have seen that it is a stable, financially-secure housing type that is desired by an increasing number of buyers.

Many thanks!
Alice Alexander
Coho/US Executive Director
alicecohous [at] gmail [dot] com