Cooperative Housing Frequently Asked Questions
What is a co-op?
A housing co-op can come in many different shapes and sizes. The primary difference from
other types of housing ownership is that the buyer is buying shares in a corporation. The
corporation owns the building and land, and all the members of the co-op are homeowner
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. Your number of shares in the
co-op will depend on the size of your unit.
2. What is the first step to buying a co-operative home at Othello Square?
The first step is to contact HomeSight’s Homeownership Center and start the eligibility process
by providing financial information. The Homeownership Center staff will work with you to
determine if you are under the income limit for our program- and can afford the monthly
housing cost of the unit within program guidelines. They can also work with you to evaluate
your credit profile and assist you with creating a sustainable budget. Once you have completed
the process and have been determined eligible you will be placed on the purchase ready list.
What is the income qualification?
Prospective buyers’ household incomes must not exceed 80% of area median income. In 2020 in
Seattle that means the annual gross income for a 1-person household cannot be more than
$66,700, a 2-person household $76,200, a 3-person household $85,750, and a 4-person
household $95,250. Larger than 4-person household size information is available. Median
income is adjusted each year, so the limits will likely be somewhat higher by the time the project
is completed in early 2022.
4. How do you decide who will get priority to buy a co-op home share?
A primary list of buyers who have completed all the readiness steps and have been preapproved as income eligible buyers will be maintained by HomeSight. Once this list is full future
buyers will be placed on a secondary list of approved income eligible buyers.
How is the co-op home share price calculated?
In order to make becoming a co-op home member affordable to a broad range of households,
we’ve set the share prices at $104 per square foot, with the average share price just below
6. If I do not have the cash for the share price, is there a loan available?
A share loan program will be created to assist in financing a portion of the share price. The
details of the loan program have not yet been finalized.
7. What is the minimum amount that I must provide from my own funds?
The minimum cash that you have to put into the share purchase is 20% of the share price. You
will also be required to demonstrate that you can save up to 3 months of payments. Showing
your ability to save the monthly payments will be part of your action plan developed with
HomeSight’s Homeownership Center.
8. What can I do in my unit? Can I make changes to the unit?
You are allowed to make minor changes such as painting the walls and changing faucets, toilets,
etc. Any changes that will involve and/or result in structural changes (for instance opening a
wall, floor or ceiling); require a permit or authorization from Seattle Building Department; or
create noise, vibrations, smoke or odor, which could interfere with the rights, including the right
to quiet enjoyment, of other residents of the Building will require written Co-op Board approval
before work can be started.
You are required to maintain, repair, replace, and in all ways keep in safe and good condition
and working order, all walls, floors, doors, windows, plumbing, heating and electrical fixtures
and all appliances in your unit.
9. Who takes care of the building and property?
A property management company will be selected by HomeSight to manage the initial period of
the building operation. The property manager will be responsible for taking care of all the areas
outside of your unit including lawn care, collecting monthly maintenance and building carrying
cost fees from co-op owners, paying co-op bills on behalf of co-op owners, keeping the co-op’s
financial records, helping to make sure co-op owners are following co-op rules, and assisting the
co-op board to prepare the annual co-op budget. Once the board is in place, they will be
responsible for selecting the management company to take care of these items in the future.
What is the difference between the building carrying
cost fee and the maintenance fee?
The maintenance fee is used to cover common shared building expenses such as garbage, water,
landscape maintenance, etc. The building carrying cost fee is used to make payments on the
building’s blanket mortgage.
What are the expenses that the maintenance fee
Your individual electricity use, replacement of appliances in your unit, your phone or internet
access, individual unit insurance, etc.
12. How much can I expect my monthly payment to go up on a yearly basis?
The building carrying cost fee should remain at a fixed amount for the term of the building’s
blanket mortgage loan (typically 30 years). The maintenance fee will be adjusted as deemed
necessary by the board. You can expect the maintenance fee to increase with inflation, currently
between 2% and 3% per year as the cost of services, labor and materials increases.
Can I rent my unit?
The Bylaws is the governing document that spells out the rules for the co-op. The purpose of the
co-op is to provide affordable homeownership to income qualified families primarily from South
Seattle neighborhoods. Renting your unit will be prohibited.