The population of Puget Sound is expected to grow an average of 55,000 people a year, reaching almost six million by 2050. The influx of newcomers has created a housing shortage and higher rents—displacing longtime residents and recent immigrants—and a severing of historic, cultural and family ties.
Limited-equity cooperatives give residents a stake in their neighborhood, support long term affordability and stem displacement. Cooperative residents build equity through their units, generating future revenue as units are sold on to the next generation.
What is cooperative housing?
Cooperative home ownership, co-op housing for short, is a tool that can help lower costs of home ownership and center ownership around resident’s needs. Residents in co-ops work together. When making decisions, each unit gets one vote. Here lies the appeal of co-ops: control over costs and the opportunity to integrate the values of a community into the identity and operation of the building.
- Equal shares – Each resident owns shares in the cooperative. Together, the residents own the property, as members of a cooperatively owned non-profit corporation.
- Ownership – The cooperative has full ownership of the building and the land.
- Community decision making – The cooperative members make decisions about the management and maintenance of the property. Every member has a vote.
LIMITED EQUITY CO-OPS
Co-op residents purchase stock in a corporation that owns the building and land and receive a lease to their unit. The nonprofit corporation is owned entirely by residents, not by outside investors. Co-ops lower housing costs in four main ways: tax savings, smaller closing costs, lower down payment, and lower monthly fees.
- Tax Savings – Taxes are assessed on the entire building rather than on each individual unit, leading to a lower tax bill.
- Lower closing costs – Purchasing a co-op home is not a real estate transaction, but rather a stock sale.
- Lower down payment – The co-op building loan carries more of the debt, which means there is a lower cost to individual shareholders.
- Lower monthly fees – Co-op owners make monthly payments toward the building loan, called a blanket mortgage. The payment is shared among all the co-op homeowners.
Cooperatives (co-ops) give residents a stake in their neighborhood and under a limited equity co-op ownership financial structure—alleviates the initial financial burden for homebuyers and keeps them affordable over the long haul.
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Communities in Tukwila and Tacoma are looking at using co-ops for in Wadjir and the Hilltop communities as part of these community-driven developments. Learn more here.