Is Co-Op Living Right for you?
If you’re looking for a home, have you considered a co-op? Cooperative housing, or co-ops, such as HomeSight’s U-lex at Othello Square in south Seattle, can provide an affordable entry point into the Seattle housing market. A co-op is a form of housing where residents share ownership and responsibility for their building and its facilities. Co-op members can build equity while paying less than what they’d pay for rent.
While co-op living presents an opportunity for some—such as first-time homebuyers—it’s not for everyone. Co-ops encourage owners to participate in decision-making and government and generally have more comprehensive rules than typical homeowner associations. Buying into a co-op means buying into a commitment to respect the rules and values of the community.
There are pros and cons to this type of housing, and to illustrate them, we’ll use HomeSight’s co-op, U-lex, as an example.
With so many people feeling shut out of the housing market in Seattle, co-ops are creative options for helping families stay in their community and build equity. U-lex, which offers 68 low- and middle-income residents an affordable equity-building opportunity in South Seattle’s Othello neighborhood, is in the heart of south Seattle, one block from the Othello Light Rail station.
“One major benefits of co-op living at U-lex is the ability to affordably live in the city,” said Uche Okezie, HomeSight’s Director of Real Estate Development. “We want residents to know they can build equity here. They can build wealth in their price range.”
Pro or Con?
Instead of buying a structure or the land where it sits, a co-op buyer is buying shares in a corporation. The corporation owns the building and land, and all the members of the co-op are member shareholders in the corporation, with each household having an equal voting right. The co-op is run by a board selected by popular vote of the co-op members. Co-op members are encouraged to participate in their governance.
U-lex (pronounced OH-lew) means “gather” in Lushootseed, the language spoken by the Coast Salish people who originally lived in Seattle. Co-ops typically feature gathering spaces designed to build a real community. At U-lex, a central courtyard connected to interior amenity spaces provides a large multi-purpose area. There will also be communal sun decks on the second and fourth floors.
Pro or Con?
Consumer demand for sustainability is high, and construction trends are responding. U-lex will keep energy costs low by installing rooftop solar panels and water- and energy- efficient fixtures and appliances. In addition, living where you work and play reduces commuting costs and carbon expenditure. Although U-lex offers some garage space under the building, its location one block from the Othello Light Rail Station and its bike storage options will reduce residents’ reliance on their cars.
Pro or Con?
Rules and Restrictions
Co-ops, governed by residents, tend to have more rules than a typical condominium board or homeowner association. At U-lex, with its mission of providing affordable residential ownership to income-qualified families, renting out units will be prohibited and making major changes to units won’t be allowed.