An opportunity to join the elusive Bend of Islands community has sprung up, with a stake in the Round the Bend Conservation Co-Operative launched last week.
The three-bedroom mudbrick home at 16/149 Skyline Rd is up for sale for the first time in about 30 years, listed with a price guide of $480,000-$528,000.
But buyers can’t buy the pad in the regular way.
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Founded in 1971, the cooperative requires a sometimes lengthy vetting process for those wishing to join.
Lot 16 is one of 24 houses built on 132 ha and a total of 32 shares, eight of which are in vacant blocks.
The owners built the mud house in the 1990s and have lived there ever since, a representative from Round the Bend Conservation Co-Operative said.
“There’s a lot of interest (so far) because it’s quite unique and unusual,” he said.
“It is not often that a house in the cooperative comes up for sale.”
The representative added that buyers must first be accepted into the co-op before buying the house.
“We are looking for people who appreciate value and want to be active in environmental conservation, who are also highly regarded and very knowledgeable,” he said.
The seller of the house, whose husband recently passed away, is leaving the community for the first time since they built the house about 30 years ago.
It is listed in the listing as an “eco-friendly house” with an “endearing construction of loam and wood” found on approximately 1,500 square feet of land.
Although pets are not allowed in the co-op, the surrounding land is home to many native flora and fauna.
Inside the mud-brick path are vaulted wooden ceilings, an open-plan living and dining area and a “slow-burn” wood burning stove.
The home offers complete privacy, but social activities are encouraged in the co-op, with members often involved in sub-organizations such as the Christmas Hills Fire Department, food co-op, and playgroup.
The cooperative’s website states that all sites are equipped with underground power and telecom, with Wi-Fi and garbage collection.
The website also emphasizes that membership does not confer ownership, as the cooperative owns the land and provides long-term leaseholds to members.
Because of this leasehold period, it is also noted that financial institutions are generally reluctant to provide mortgages for houses on the cooperative.
“Anyone who wants to buy a house (here) needs to understand the arrangements, as people generally have to manage their own finances,” said the cooperative’s representative.
There is also a $400 one-time sign-up fee to become an associate, which is then refunded once an associate becomes a co-op member.
Employees must undergo a structured membership process, which the website says aims to “ensure the cooperative’s future sustainability by selecting people who are genuinely interested in preserving the environment.”
“We expect incoming members to be active,” said the cooperative’s representative.
RT Edgar Yarra Valley associate director Gerard Kennan and director Andrew Houghton have the list.
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