North Shore Realtor® Donald Watson, who specializes in North and West Vancouver, shares his thought about co-housing.
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This is where a group of people get together to build a strata property by hiring their own architect and designers to build on a piece of land the group purchases. Their buildings usually end up being more communal, and they have a lot of common areas like playgrounds and/or kitchens. By this, they have effectively cut the developer out of the deal.
There are usually founding members. These are a few people who initiate the idea of building a strata property. Later, they source a larger group of individuals to collaborate with them. This is usually more of a social support network, and at the beginning, some people might hold more equity than others. In the long run, it usually ends up that you own your share of the property based on the size of your home or “unit entitlement.” Financing the project usually involves getting between 10-20% of the total cost of the project before the start of any work, and it is often a pay to your ability situation. In fact, some members put up no money at the start.
This model came about primarily due to people baulking at the prices from developers. Individuals wanted shared amenities and were excited about the idea of community living.
- People get to pick who they live with.
- They have an emotional connection to the property as they were involved in every developmental stage of the project.
- Prices of these homes are usually below market prices.
- People also look out for each other in a manner that apartment buildings do not afford.
On the downside of things, it takes a lot of time and can span typically 2 to 4 years before it is complete. Also, there are usually no rentals.
A community of friends or a community of strangers?
These people typically don’t know all of each other. There could be seniors, young couples or even people with disabilities. There are usually communal areas on the outside, but you do get your own privacy with your suite. If someone wants to move out, the community holds the right of first refusal for purchase. In most cases, there is already a waiting list in place with people keen to move in.
How to get started
- You require a few equity members who are like minded.
- A consultant is hired to discuss the wants and needs’ list.
- Sourcing for land
- Other members are brought in, may not put up as much money as the first set
- Money is collected based on what you have at the present moment
The demands for such community living will only increase with time. People with disabilities, those who want a bigger family or seniors who want to have neighbors with a more established community spirit will look more into this model.