Winslow Cohousing: Financing Information (2023)

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FINANCING INFORMATION

The information below is intended to serve as a supplement to the official Disclosure Statement of the Winslow Cohousing Group (WCG). This material is reviewed, revised, and supplemented from time to time.

WCG, a Cooperative Housing Corporation

WCG is a non-profit cooperative housing corporation which owns all the real property and improvements. WCG chose to organize as a cooperative housing corporation (not a condominium or a neighborhood of privately owned dwellings) for a variety of economic and social reasons. There is no law that requires a Cohousing community to organize as a cooperative housing corporation. Moreover, no law prevents WCG from reorganizing as a condominium at some future date if we find that there are advantages in doing so. Also, be aware that most cooperative housing corporations are not Cohousing communities.

You become a member of WCG by purchasing shares in the corporation and signing a proprietary lease. Your lease guarantees your right to occupy a specific home as long as you abide by the conditions of the lease.

You may sell your shares and transfer your lease to a new owner. The cooperative may exercise an option to purchase your shares or disapprove of a buyer you choose, but it cannot prevent you from receiving a fair-market price for your home. It seems quite natural to us to talk about your home, though in fact you hold shares and a lease instead of a deed to real property and different laws regulate private and cooperative home ownership.

You should be able to obtain a loan to purchase your cooperative shares just as you would obtain a loan to purchase real property. Both local and national lenders have expressed an interest in underwriting cooperative share loans.

WCG's Financing

The only lending agencies at this time for this cooperative housing project is the National Cooperative Bank (NCB) for long-term loans made to individual members and secured by the borrower's stock in the cooperative, called share loans. If you need a share loan then you must apply to a lending institution and qualify for this loan. At this time, NCB is the institution that best understands our financial structure and will accept share loan applications.

The 9 garages are treated much like homes and a monthly fee is assessed. The number of shares allocated to a specific garage may be purchased from the owner. Only members have the right to own a garage. Only residents have the right to rent a garage.

Allocations of Shares

The number of shares originally allocated to each home was closely related to the appraised value and type of the home in April of 1992. In the future, value may be added to a home by changes in the price per share and changes in the number of shares.

Price per share: Changes may come about over time because of changes in market value or individual customizations to interiors and landscaping. The new value is accounted for by a change in the price per share and the price per share varies from home to home because of this.

Number of shares: The number of shares allocated to a home will only be changed if the home is substantially altered. A substantial alteration is a change in the amount of living space in a home which makes it more nearly comparable to a home of a different type, e.g. conversion of a two-bedroom home to a three-bedroom home.

We operate according to democratic, cooperative principles of one voice per membership and do not allocate decision-making power in proportion to shares owned. We do our best to decide issues by consensus, but, if we must vote, each household (membership) is entitled to one vote, no matter how many shares are allocated to your home. This is an IRS requirement for cooperatives and a fundamental fact of our community: all households have an equal say in community decisions no matter what the financial investment in their homes.

Community Financial Responsibility

Probably the most important requirement of our proprietary lease is that members assume responsibility for a portion of the annual cash costs of operating the community and accruing capital reserve deposits which can be used to tide us over during times of economic hardship and to repair and replace common property as it deteriorates over time. Each year the corporation must prepare an annual budget for approval by the membership. Members are billed monthly for part of the annual costs. These amounts are known as monthly maintenance and operations assessments.

Exhibit A to the lease defines three basic categories of annual costs and the formulas that must be used for apportioning these costs to member households. Briefly, the categories of annual expenses are as follows: Most of the annual expenses are for fixed costs and are placed in the first category which is shared by members in proportion to the number of shares attached to their home (and garage if appropriate). Even though annual costs are not shared exactly in proportion to the number of shares held by member households, nevertheless, the number of shares held by a household is still the weightiest determinant of the portion of annual costs which is charged to that household. In this category are such items as property taxes, property and liability insurance, special tax assessments, capital improvements, and capital reserves.

A second category of annual operating and maintenance expenses is for those items which are influenced somewhat by the number of persons in a household. It includes such items as garbage, water and sewer costs for all households and common facilities, and maintenance of common areas and facilities. The formula for sharing costs in this category is complicated: one third is based on a count of persons in a household, weighed more heavily for adults than for children; one third is based on shares; and one third is divided into thirty equal parts.

The third category of annual expenses covers management and administration. In this category are such things as accounting, office costs and legal fees. Costs in this category are shared in thirty equal parts.

As you can see, the monthly costs of living in our community will be the sum of: 1) your monthly maintenance and operations assessment, plus 2) your share loan payment. You are entitled to deduct interest that you pay on your share loan on your IRS tax return, as well as your portion of the property taxes.

If the corporation should someday have to be dissolved, and if at that time there should be assets to divide, then those assets would be divided among the stockholders in proportion to their number of shares. But your shares do earn dividends. The value of your shares is embodied in your home and in the cohousing community to which you belong.

SELLERS' AND BUYERS' FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

WHAT IS A FAIR SALES PRICE FOR A WCG HOME?

Sellers establish what they consider a fair price for their homes, taking into account such factors as sales of similar homes at Winslow Cohousing in the past year or two, the general real estate climate on Bainbridge Island and the cost of improvements to their home. Buyers who have questions about the fairness of the selling price should ask their sellers to show them the sales history or other factors on which they are basing the sales price. Buyers can also ask a local real estate agent for comparative sale prices for condominium units in the Winslow area, taking into account the difference in the amount of land included in a purchase of WCG shares as compared with condominium projects. Buyers, of course, are always free to ask a real estate agent or attorney for help in negotiating with the sellers or the credit union/bank.

HOW DO APPRAISERS WORK WITH WCG?

For sales during the first few years, the appraiser appraised homes under the selling price by $2000–$4000, using sales of nearby condominiums as comps. In two cases, the buyers simply paid more; in one case, buyers and sellers split the difference. The appraiser finally stated that it was a waste of time appraising our homes below the selling price: whatever willing buyers agreed to pay would be the appraised value of the home. Because of this history, buyers should not depend on an appraisal to set a fair price; this is especially true for homes which have no comps in WCG, e.g. the sole remaining studio, the two-bedroom/studio conversion, or the three-bedroom/one-and-one-half-bedroom conversion.

WHERE CAN BUYERS GO FOR FINANCING OF THEIR PURCHASE?

National Cooperative Bank, Hillsboro, Ohio, has financed many of the homes purchased here. Buyers should always remember that all real estate loans, whether secured by shares or real property, are subject to errors of communication and understanding. Those who have questions about their loan documents should review the paperwork with the credit union/bank, the escrow agent or their attorney. Also, WCG's Board of Trustees can help with some loan questions if asked.

Copyright © 2004 Winslow Cohousing Group

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