Thompson Corner made to play by Carbondale’s affordable housing rules | PostIndependent.com
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Thompson Corner made to play by Carbondale’s affordable housing rules

CARBONDALE, Colorado – Owners of the town’s first and most truly affordable deed-restricted houses will have to play by the same rules as those of newer affordable housing units when it comes time to sell.

The Carbondale Town Council voted 5-2 at its Tuesday meeting to go with a staff recommendation requiring owners in the 60-unit Thompson Corner neighborhood at River Valley Ranch to pay a 1.5 percent administrative fee whenever they sell.

The fee is used to pay for a variety of transaction costs associated with the sale of income-restricted units, including a lottery to select qualified buyers that is administered by the nonprofit Mountain Regional Housing Corp.



The decision came after an earlier motion to split the fee between the seller and buyer failed.

So far, the fee has averaged about $3,000 per transaction. Thompson Corner homeowners have asked that the fee be waived in their case.



The standard-bearer of Carbondale’s “inclusionary housing” program, Thompson Corner units began selling to qualified buyers as soon as they were built in the late 1990s. Many of the original buyers were selected in the town’s first-ever affordable housing lottery before the houses were even built.

Originally priced between $91,900 and $185,145 depending on unit size, an annual appreciation cap of between 3 and 5 percent has kept the units somewhat affordable, and thus more desirable, than more recently constructed affordable housing units.

Houses at Thompson Corner, ranging from one-bedroom to modified four-bedroom units with finished basements, have been recently selling for between $130,925 and $268,809, according to a memo from town housing planner Kay Philip.

Carbondale has an additional 32 approved affordable housing units, 18 of which have been built. The town’s Inclusionary Housing Ordinance requires that 20 percent of houses in new residential development be income- and deed-restricted.

But, most of those newer units “are a lot less house for a lot more money,” Philip commented at Tuesday’s meeting.

Until last year when the town council adopted its new Housing Guidelines for income-restricted units, Thompson Corner units were allowed to be sold to any qualified buyer, either from a wait list, or at the seller’s discretion.

“The public perception during those first 10 years was that you had to know someone to be able to purchase a Thompson Corner unit,” Philip wrote in her memo.

That changed last year when the new Housing Guidelines were approved, requiring all income-restricted units, including Thompson Corner, to be sold through an open lottery of qualified buyers.

The guidelines also established the associated fees, including 1.5 percent administrative fee and a $1,000 real estate transaction fee to be split between the buyer and seller.

Malcom McMichael, treasurer for the Thompson Corner Homeowners Association, said after the meeting that the split cost for the fee would have been preferable. Ultimately, they would still like to see the fee waived.

“It’s essentially changing a financial contract midstream for us,” he said. “It’s an ethical business question, basically.”

Carbondale Trustee Frosty Merriott agreed that the rules shouldn’t be changed for the established Thompson Corner owners.

“I don’t agree with changing the rules after the game is already being played,” he said. At the very least, the administrative fee should be split between the buyer and seller, he said.

Philip said there was a concern on the part of Cindy Sadlowski, the real estate agent who has been overseeing Thompson Corner sales since the beginning, that any extra fees for buyers could be cost prohibitive for some.

jstroud@postindependent.com


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