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Common Interest Communities as a path to affordable housing

The dream of homeownership remains a significant aspiration for many as soaring real estate prices have made it increasingly challenging to enter the housing market. However, there is a potential solution that empowers younger individuals to pool their resources and create a common interest community under the Washington Uniform Common Interest Ownership Act. By forming such communities, people otherwise priced out of the housing market can collectively purchase and remodel or even rebuild a property, making homeownership a reality.

Understanding the Washington Uniform Common Interest Ownership Act

The Washington Uniform Common Interest Ownership Act (“WUCIOA“) governs the creation and operation of common interest communities (“CIC”) within the state. A CIC is a collective arrangement where multiple individuals or households share ownership and responsibility for a property while enjoying exclusive rights to specific units within it. These communities can range from townhouses and condominiums to housing cooperatives, providing flexibility to suit different needs.

Creating a Common Interest Community
  1. Identify potential participants: The first step in forming a common interest community is finding like-minded individuals who share the goal of homeownership. These can be friends, family members, or even individuals who have formed connections through community networks or online platforms.
  2. Define shared goals and values: It is crucial to establish a shared vision for the community, including goals, values, and expectations. This collaborative process ensures everyone is aligned and creates a strong foundation for decision-making and ongoing cooperation.
  3. Seek legal guidance: Consult with an attorney who specializes in real estate and familiarize yourself with the intricacies of the Washington Uniform Common Interest Ownership Act. This legal expert can guide you through the process, ensuring compliance with the law and assisting in the formation of a legally sound common interest community.
  4. Financial planning: Determine the financial capacity of each participant and collectively assess the community’s purchasing power. Pooling resources enables access to a larger down payment and greater affordability when purchasing a property.
Purchasing and Remodeling a Property
  1. Find the right property: Conduct thorough research to identify a property that aligns with the community’s goals, budget, and location preferences. Consider factors such as size, condition, and zoning regulations that may affect the intended use. Will the community look for a multi-unit property, convers a single family home into cohousing or separatee units, or is working with a general contractor for new construction an option.
  2. Financing options: Explore different financing options, including traditional mortgages, co-op loans, or shared ownership programs. Working with a mortgage broker or lender who understands common interest communities can help navigate the complexities of financing.
  3. Draft community agreements: It is vital that you establish community agreements that outline the rights, responsibilities, and obligations of each participant. These agreements should cover aspects such as property maintenance, shared expenses, decision-making processes, dispute resolution mechanisms, as well as how to exit if things do not work out.
  4. Remodeling and renovations: Once the property is acquired, determine the remodeling plans and allocate responsibilities among community members. Collaboration, clear communication, and adherence to agreed timelines and budgets are essential for a successful renovation project.
Benefits of Common Interest Communities
  1. Increased affordability: By sharing the financial burden of homeownership, younger individuals can access properties they may not have been able to afford individually. Shared expenses, such as mortgage payments, property taxes, and maintenance costs, are divided among community members, reducing the financial strain on individuals.
  2. Building equity: As property values appreciate over time, community members can accumulate equity in their shared property, contributing to their long-term financial stability. This equity can be used to fund future projects, individual purchases, or serve as a nest egg for retirement.
  3. Sense of community: Common interest communities foster a strong sense of belonging and shared responsibility. Collaborative decision-making, collective problem-solving, and shared spaces promote social connections, creating a supportive network of like-minded individuals.
  4. Sustainability and resource-sharing: By living in a common interest community, participants have the opportunity to embrace sustainable practices such as resource-sharing, energy efficiency, and environmentally conscious initiatives. This approach aligns with younger generations’ desire for environmentally responsible living.

The Washington Uniform Common Interest Ownership Act provides an avenue for younger people to combat the challenges of the housing market and achieve homeownership through the formation of common interest communities. By collaborating, pooling resources, and sharing responsibilities, individuals can create a more affordable pathway to owning and remodeling a property. Beyond the economic benefits, these communities cultivate a sense of belonging and promote sustainable living, enriching the lives of their members. By embracing this innovative approach, younger generations can navigate the housing market on their own terms, creating a brighter and more inclusive future.

This blog is for educational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. This article, or contacting Apex, does not in any way form an attorney-client relationship. Speak to a licensed attorney if you need help or advice navigating the legal issues surrounding common insterest community. If you have any questions or would like to learn more, please contact George Ptasinski at or visit our website and blog.  You might also like to read “Which HOA Law Applies To Me” or “Can My HOA get Tax-Exemption from the IRS?

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