Alice Alexander, Coho/US Executive Director
Attached and available for download are Coho/US packages seeking FNMA and FHA-HUD support. We encourage readers to use this package if helpful; for example, cohousing groups seeking financing and may want to share with banks; communities may want to share the "state of cohousing" with media.
"This very professional program and package directed to our national housing finance agencies and others is another good reason why anyone with an interest in cohousing should be supporting and engaged with Coho/US." Jim Leach, Wonderland Hill Development
Coho/US is leading an 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 that 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.
Attached and available for download are our letter request packages, delivered 5-6-16, along with letters of support from professionals with cohousing experience who can attest that cohousing is a sound, safe, market desirable home that should be eligible for obtaining financing by any real estate lender. A “state of cohousing white paper” profiling our innovative model of sustainable neighborhoods is an important part of this package.
If you have ideas for supporting this initiative, such as influential individuals or organizations who can help propel our request, please contact me at alicecohous [at] gmail [dot] com. Additional letters of support may be helpful. Your letter should include the following:
Your role in the housing world (professional, organizational, personal).
How you are familiar with cohousing.
Your experience with cohousing, and how you see it as a stable, financially-secure housing type that is desired by an increasing number of buyers.
As we follow up in pursuit of FNMA and FHA-HUD support, we will post updates on this webpage and cohousing blog.
Coho/US Executive Director
alicecohous [at] gmail [dot] com