WHAT IS COOPERATIVE: Guide On Cooperative

What is Cooperative
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Cooperatives, irrespective of the form, have one purpose: the interests of their members at large. However, over the years, its focus expanded to not just meeting the needs of its members but also to economic growth and development. For instance, IWDC report that U.S. cooperatives generate more than 2 million jobs each year, contribute $652 billion in annual sales, and also possess over $3 trillion in assets. Interestingly the number keeps increasing all over the globe. In this article, we expound on what a cooperative is, how it works, its endeavor agreement, and some of its types such as housing, apartment, farmers, and so on.

What Is Cooperative?

Generally, when we talk about cooperatives, we refer to a people-oriented organization. One whose ownership, management, and also operation lie with its members. The business solely exists for the members’ social, common economic, and cultural needs and objectives. These people have a need, identified their needs, come together, pulled resources, started a business, operate the business, and meet their needs. The most significant thing about a co-op is that it democratically bring people together and represent their interest. Every cooperative out there irrespective of the form of its existence has one goal- value. That is literally why the driving force of cooperatives is value not profit.

A cooperative is an autonomous association of persons united voluntarily to meet their common economic, social, and cultural needs and aspirations through a jointly-owned and democratically-controlled enterprise. 

International Co-operative Alliance

Cooperative Principles

In 1995, the International Cooperative Alliance adopted seven principles. These presently serve as the values that govern the operation of cooperatives to date. 

#1. Economic Participation of Members’

Capital contribution is always done democratically and equitably.

#2. Education, Training, and Information

Generally, cooperatives make sure that their board and every member have access to educational training. After being armed with knowledge, they in turn contribute to the cooperative’s growth. Cooperatives also aim to educate and inform the public about their mission and operations.

#3. Concern for Community

Generally, a co-op policy must add to the overall development of the community and the global environment as it expands.

#4. Democratic Control

Co-op members manage and control their affairs without external influence. What’s more? Members have a say on the cooperative’s policies decision.

#5. Cooperation Among Cooperatives

Co-ops frequently collaborate, forming regional, national, and worldwide organizations that benefit the community and the world. Most often, it begins as a small community and gradually expands.

#6. Independence and Autonomy

Cooperatives are free from external influence. Additionally, they are autonomous and democratically controlled without external authority.

#7. Voluntary Membership

Anyone can be a member of a co-op. All you need to do is apply to become a member and also adhere to their regulations. Although you may be asked to pay the registration fee, it still holds great goodies in store for all members.

What Are the Different Types of Co-ops?

Cooperatives usually operate in a variety of business sectors and industries. It also takes different forms depending on who the member-owners are and what they do. The following are the most common types of co-op in the State.

#1. Producers Cooperative

This is specifically for producers who come together to protect their interests. These producers are mostly product manufacturers that came together to improve the sale of their products or develop their manufacturing process.

#2. Worker Cooperatives

More often than not, you’d find the workers’ co-op in sales and service. Ownership of the worker’s cooperatives lies with the worker within a company. The cooperative gets its support from the labor and volunteering work of workers.

#3. Farmer and Independent Small Business Cooperatives

When it comes to farmers’ cooperatives, their ownership and control lie with the people who use their services, while the business fulfills the purchasing, processing, and marketing needs of the members. 

#4. Processing Co-ops

When it comes to processing cooperatives, members jointly own the processing equipment. This reduces the cost of processing goods for members. It also records revenue from non-members.

#5. Agricultural Cooperative

This is one of the oldest cooperatives in existence. According to IWDC, over 2 million farmers are members of farmer cooperatives. These groups provide more than 250,000 jobs and about $8 billion in yearly earnings. The agricultural cooperatives use their resources to assist farmers in obtaining land and supplies.

#6. Insurance

Mostly, Insurance either covers all co-op members completely or the businesses that use a cooperative business model. 

#7. Purchasing Cooperatives

The purchasing co-op consists of similar businesses allying to acquire products and services. It is owned by individual retailers who buy goods and services needed to run their own companies, members also exchange purchasing contracts.

Others include

  • Grocery
  • Housing
  • Education
  • Healthcare
  • Grocery

What Is Cooperative Housing?

Also known as housing co-ops, cooperative housing is a type of housing tenure. It is a jointly owned legal entity in real estate. This estate may constitute one or more residential buildings. Generally, it is famous for its democratic control, joint ownership, and management. They consist of a group of people with the goal of pooling resources and lowering individual expenses for all services related to housing provision. It is quite different from traditional residential arrangements such as single-family homes, renting, and condos. In a housing cooperative, the owners do not outrightly own their apartments. However, each resident is a stakeholder in the corporation. Additionally, the amount of shares a member holds in cooperative real estate housing depends largely on the size of their unit. 

How It Works

In real estate, cooperative housing functions on a non-profit and non-ownership base agreement. With co-op housing, residents hold a share of the building but, the amount of share that one holds depends on the units and the space they occupy. You can also sell off your apartment share if you want to move out. However, before selling off the share, your decision will be subject to the cooperative housing board’s approval that is, if your by-law permits the selling of shares. Generally, cooperative housing operates on bylaws. So you should check your bylaw to see if you can either sell your share or rent out your space.

Moreover, the sale must be in line with the market rate for co-ops in that locality if the by-bylaw permits you to sell your cooperative apartment. In addition, a cooperative apartment is usually the best option for anyone who lives in locations where living cost is high. 

How to Buy a Cooperative Apartment

First, you need to understand that the Fair Housing Act of non-discrimination is binding on every cooperative apartment in real estate. Therefore, just about anyone who desires to live in a cooperative house is free to be a shareholder.

If you want to hold a co-op house share, you will have to submit your application to the board.

Aside from assessing one’s application based on standard criteria such as income and rental history, you will, also, be assessed to test if you are a good match for the community.

Once the board approves your application, you will become a member of the community that makes decisions about the building.

How Does a Real Estate Housing Cooperative Look?  

Just as there are no specified patterns and designs for building a house, there is no exact structure for real estate cooperative housing. It can take any form. Ranging from a townhouse, single-family house, mobile house garden-style, high-rise apartment complex and so much more. It can also be in form of community facilities. 

Housing Cooperative Principles

There are seven principles by which co-operatives put their values into effect, according to the International Cooperative Alliance. ICA the International Cooperative Alliance is an independent, non-governmental organization founded in 1895 and represents cooperatives worldwide. The principles are based on self-help, self responsibilities, and self-administration.

The seven principles are as follows;

  • Open and voluntary membership
  • Access to information, education, and Training
  • Cooperation among members
  • Community concern
  • Members democratically control affairs
  • Oneness among cooperative
  • Encourages equals participation

Types of Cooperative Housing

The most common types of co-op housing in the United States and Canada are as follows;

#1. Limited Equity Cooperative

This type of cooperative places a limit on the price at which one can buy and sell shares. Additionally, housing is affordable with certain benefits. The benefits include low-interest loans, tax credits, and subsidies. Limited equity has just one purpose and that is to help people with low income become house owners. 

#2. Market Rate Cooperative

With the market rate cooperative members can buy or sell their shares at the exact rate, the market can take. What’s more? the market rate co-ops, allow you to get equity as high as you would in normal housing.  

#3. Mutual Housing Association

Mutual housing associations are non-profit housing cooperatives, put in place to design, own, and operate co-opt housing. Ownership and control lie with the residents.

#4. Leasing Co-ops

Under the leasing cooperative, the shareholders of the co-op house in real estate would rather lease the house than own it. The result is this, they have no equity in value but enough cash reserve should the building ever be put up for sale. The other name for this is zero-equity co-ops, generally owned by nonprofit organizations that subsequently lease them back to the corporation.

Advantages Of Cooperative Housing

The several benefits that come with co-ops housing are as follows;

#1. Tax Reduction

The cooperative housing receives tax bills like other properties in real estate. However, taxes in cooperative housing are paid collectively by its inhabitants. As a shareholder, you will not get a dividual tax bill because the building’s taxes are shared by the entire co-op occupants. This means each cooperative apartment is not taxed in real estate rather, the same tax is shared by the residents. In addition to this, tenants still get to enjoy federal income tax deductions for your house as any other homeowner too.

#2. Revenues in Excess

Unspent money is sometimes returned to shareholders more like the dividends you get from your company equity. However, they are often reported for individual income tax purposes.

#3. Financing

Getting loans for housing co-ops is quite easy. The Loans for co-op housing are known as home loans. Also, acquiring a home loan for a cooperative apartment in real estate comes with a variety of benefits. This includes reduced down payments and low closing expenses.

#4. Consumer Influence

Influencing policies and decisions is one of the key benefits of co-ops. The average cooperative in existence is strong enough to can influence local governments and utilities as an organization.

#5. Community management and control

Community control is one of the principles that guide the running of co-op housing in real estate. Shareholders actively participate in decisions concerning the property.

#6. Limited Liability

As a shareholder, you are liable for your loan, not the cooperative mortgage

Disadvantages of Cooperative housing

Just before you apply for a cooperative apartment, be familiar with the following disadvantages;

#1. Covering Someone’s Cost

 Occupying an apartment in cooperative housing simply means you are liable for that unit of the building’s upkeep expenditures. However, if a resident is unable to pay their monthly bills, others will have to make up the payment. If this occurs often, you will realize your monthly expenses are way more than you planned.  

#2. Funding Could Be Difficult

Oftentimes, people are swayed by the tax benefits cooperative housing offers that they become unaccustomed to its funding difficulties. Generally, it is more difficult to buy coop housing than traditional housing. This is a result of the high down payment it requires. 

3. Abiding by Rules and Regulations

In real estate, every cooperative housing has certain rules and bylaws guiding it. Failure to abide by these rules simply means you will be facing a lawsuit. Also, residing in a cooperative apartment means as a shareholder means you will be part of its management. Although, this is often not the case in large cooperative housing. This is because they require a board of directors to effectively manage its affairs. 

Similarities Between the Cooperatives and Condo

There are striking similarities between a condo and a co-op house. The following are examples of similarities

  • Both are forms of homeownership
  • They both include many housing units
  • The coop house and condo operate on by-laws
  • Both elect boards of directors
  • Tenants share the cost of maintenance and tax bills and other utilities

What Is Cooperative Agreement?

A cooperative agreement is a legal agreement between a sponsor and a recipient to provide financial support towards a set goal. The goal is to transfer something of value to accomplish a public goal rather than to gain property or services. A cooperative agreement does not require money, a grant, or a loan. Rather the sponsor actively participates extensively in the cooperative agreement’s implementation even while giving out financial assistance. A cooperative agreement is a form of project in which there is a collaborative effort between the donor and the recipient or while the project is ongoing. The main purpose of the cooperative agreement is to ensure the project’s success. Furthermore, a cooperative agreement is characterized by active participation from the donor.

Federal Grant And Cooperative Agreement Act (1977)

The Federal Grant and Cooperative Agreement Act were created as a guide to government finance. The act also differentiates defining contracts, cooperative agreements, and grants.

According to the law, contracts are awarded when a Federal agency needs something, such as a service. While cooperative agreements and grants are given when the federal agency provides help. However, they must actively take part in effecting the purpose of the grants.

What Is Cooperative Endeavor Agreement?

A cooperative endeavor agreement is a legally enforceable contract between two parties that spells out each party’s rights and responsibilities. Generally, the cooperative endeavor is used to safeguard both parties if one of them fails to fulfill their obligations. This sort of contract is used in a variety of settings. Some of the uses of the cooperative endeavor agreement include the following; joint ventures, partnerships, and other agreements in which one party requires something from the other. 

Although co-op housing is typically created to manage shared resources or to give mutual support within a particular industry, there is agreement that guides the management of the cooperatives. That is what the cooperative endeavor aims to address. 

Since the real estate apartment cooperative endeavor agreement bunds the cooperative and the shareholders, its agreement is more like a bylaw that governs the cooperatives. 

Examples of Cooperative Endeavor Agreement

A typical cooperative housing endeavor highlights the parties involved, the agreement between them, and the key components of the agreements. 


This Cooperative Endeavor Agreement (highlight agreement here) is made and entered into effective as of the _____ day of _________________, 202___, (the “Effective Date”) by and between: (Name of Cooperative”), represented by (Name of co-op representative), its Executive Director, and (Name of party), hereinafter referred to as “participating municipality”), represented by:____________________

Cooperative Endeavor Agreement Credit: Ima

What Is Cooperative Apartment?

A co-op apartment is a unit within a building that is owned by members of a cooperative housing organization.

Cooperative housing is a form of house ownership in which each member of the cooperative housing arrangement holds shares of the property. Residents who reside in the apartment within the building are shareholders in the cooperative, not owners as in other real property. 

Does Being a Shareholder Makes Me the Owner of My Cooperative Apartment?

The difference between this form of homeownership and others is this; occupants don’t hold right as owners of their unit. Residing in an apartment makes you a shareholder, not the actual owner. 

Why is it called a cooperative?

A cooperative, often known as a co-op, is described as “an autonomous association of persons united voluntarily to achieve their common economic, social, and cultural needs and ambitions through a jointly-owned and democratically governed firm” by the International Co-Operative Alliance.

What is cooperative and its importance?

Cooperatives are created in order to obtain low-cost loans, buy supplies and equipment for use in farming and home chores, sell goods, and even obtain a variety of services, including electric power, irrigation, health care, and insurance. There are numerous ways that cooperatives can help people with their daily needs.

What are benefits of cooperation?

Cooperation exhibits the capacity to compromise, reach a decision by means of a consensus, take on shared responsibility for collaborative work, and recognize the ideas and contributions of individual team members from a place of strong self-identity.

How do cooperatives make money?

In the past, cooperatives have made it quite simple for members to invest. When a member joins an established cooperative, they may be asked to make a small initial investment and then thereafter agree to make more investments by allowing the cooperative to hold or retain a share of each year’s cooperative revenues as equity capital.

What is the structure of cooperative?

Geographic, governmental, functional, financial, and other arrangements are the five categories into which cooperative structures can be divided. The purpose of this circular is to define and discuss each. Cooperatives are prevalent in almost every industry and are set up in a variety of methods.

Why are cooperatives formed?

To assist employees in enhancing their standard of living and defending their interests, cooperative societies were developed even before the fair trade movement.

Who gets the profit in a cooperative?

Contrary to popular opinion, cooperatives have a profit-making goal. The member-owners of the cooperative profit from the cooperative’s earnings. Co-ops operate in a style that is far more similar to a typical business than a non-profit.


Just before wrapping things up, take a look at the following statistic gathered from Independent Welding Distributors Cooperative IDWC. More than 29,000 cooperatives operate in every sector of the U.S. economy. The majority of America’s 2 million farmers are members of farmer cooperatives, which provide 250,000 jobs and $8 billion in yearly earnings. 50,000 American families entrust their children’s care to cooperative childcare centers and preschools. From the above statistic, you”d notice that more than being of great benefit to its members, co-ops tremendously influence the environment too. Once you are sure your interest will be protected, feel free to join a co-op at any time.

What is the most common cooperative?

A consumer cooperative is the most common co-op in the state. It is a purchasing co-op that allows consumers to gain access to goods and services. 

Is coopertive membership free?

Why it is true that co-ops exist in different forms, they all serve the same purpose. However, each cooperative design its bylaws. Many charges a certain amount as a registration fee. Moreover, the benefits of being a member surpass the registration fee.

Can someone be kicked out of a coop?

Yeah, it is very much possible for this to happen. The board might initiate a non-payment or holdover proceeding against a tenant. With this, one can be booted out of co-op housing. Also, the board evicts a tenant for bad behavior.

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