‘Affordable’ homes in Snyderville sold for too much
July 29, 2006
To ensure affordably priced housing in Bear Hollow Village stays affordable, the Summit County Commission has cracked down on the enforcement of deed restrictions on sales of condos and townhouses in the neighborhood.
"Early last winter we started receiving phone calls at the county about affordable units that were being sold far in excess of what they were allowed to be sold for," Summit County deputy attorney Jami Brackin said. "We started our investigation."
A plan adopted Wednesday provides three options for homeowners who may have unknowingly bought deed-restricted property in Bear Hollow near Sun Peak and the Utah Olympic Park.
They can agree to strengthen the deed restrictions in exchange for Summit County purchasing their homes.
They could pay a fee to buy themselves out of the deed restrictions, or, keep the existing deed restrictions in place.
So people who work in Summit County could afford to buy homes in the area, county officials have required developers in Snyderville reserve part of their projects for affordable housing.
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Though buyers of affordable units in Bear Hollow are not required to live in Summit County or meet any income qualifications, deed restrictions on the homes allow sales prices to increase only three percent per year.
Prices for affordable condominiums and townhouses in Bear Hollow currently range from roughly $131,104 and $268,451.
New deed restrictions adopted this week provide the Summit County Commission the first opportunity to purchase affordable units for sale in Bear Hollow, Brackin said.
"We’re not going into the housing business," County Commissioner Ken Woolstenhulme said.
Instead, commissioners intend to quickly re-sell homes purchased by the county to qualified buyers, he added.
"We’re not buying them with the idea that we’re going to hold them," Woolstenhulme said.
Those who do not make more than 80 percent of Summit County’s area median income of roughly $83,000 per year could qualify to buy homes from the county, as could Summit County residents who work and pay rent in the area.
With the project formerly in bankruptcy, homes with restricted selling prices aimed at people with lower incomes have sold at market rates in Bear Hollow Village, Summit County planner Kimber Gabryszak said.
"The [Summit County Commission] remains concerned about the number of units that have either listed or been sold at prices significantly higher than the maximum sales price allowed by the recorded documents," a July 26 letter from county officials to Bear Hollow residents states.
Because owners of the deed-restricted units have concerns about financing constraints and whether they can place their condos in a pool of properties designated as nightly rentals, the Summit County Commission has offered to purchase their homes in exchange for them agreeing to stricter deed restrictions.
"Because [the restrictions] are clearer and because they do preserve the intent of the affordable housing, I’m sure that there will be some people out there who will not be happy who will wish they could sell it at whatever price," Summit County Planning Director Michael Barille said.
Buying the units allows the county to add stronger language to the deed restrictions, Summit County Commissioner Sally Elliott said.
"We think it will probably take us a fairly short time to buy the units, place the additional restrictions on the deeds and re-sell them to a qualified person," she said.
Homeowners in Bear Hollow may also choose to pay $150 per square foot to buy out of the housing restrictions, County Commissioner Bob Richer said.
"If for some reason somebody wants to opt out of the affordable housing they will pay us a fee," he said, adding that, removing deed restrictions from an 800 square-foot home could cost $120,000. "We’re not talking about, you write a check for $250 it’s a pretty serious decision."
Though a "painful option" for homeowners, the fee-in-lieu is doable for those who purchased deed-restricted homes for more than the maximum selling price, Barille said.
"It would be very difficult for someone to sell it at the restricted price if they bought it for $300,000 above the restricted price," Barille added.
The new deed restrictions provide qualified buyers who earn less than $64,000 per year the first opportunities to buy units from the county, Gabryszak said, adding that the selling price can still not increase more than three percent per year.
"Income-qualified buyers get first dibs," she said.
Should no prospective buyers meet the income qualifications, "it has to be somebody who intends to occupy the unit as their primary dwelling," Gabryszak said.
Contact the Summit County Community Development Department at (435) 615-3124 for more information about affordable housing in the Snyderville Basin.