Deed-restricted units for sale help lessen Summit County’s affordable housing issues |

Deed-restricted units for sale help lessen Summit County’s affordable housing issues

Programs like Housing Helps and buy downs, as well as the sixth phase of Smith Ranch in Silverthorne, are expected to bring about more units this year

The Dillon Valley Vistas development is pictured on Friday, Dec. 18, 2020. The development is one of a few that offer for-sale deed restricted housing to locals.
Libby Stanford/Summit Daily News archive

As Summit County government and the towns of Dillon, Frisco, Breckenridge and Silverthorne continue to employ strategies that will lessen the community’s affordable housing issue, there’s one strategy each entity has used in an attempt to create a pipeline of inventory: Deed-restricted, for-sale housing.

Part of this is done through the Housing Helps and buy-down programs. Housing Helps incentivizes homeowners with a sum of money to deed restrict their property to help maintain and sustain homes for locals in the community. Through buy down programs, the county purchases a market rate property and places a deed restriction on it.

But this isn’t the only way deed-restricted housing for sale is made available to locals living and working in Summit County. In fact, the vast majority of deed-restricted housing units are made available for sale by local government entities that are hustling to bring new projects online. Doing so not only gives community members a stable and secure place to live, but the opportunity to build equity, too.

The Summit Combined Housing Authority assists with some of the developments, specifically in accepting applications from those who are hoping to buy a unit to make sure they meet the requirements for that individual property. In some cases, the housing authority also hosts lotteries for units if there’s a high demand.

Rob Murphy, executive director of the housing authority, said it monitors about 1,300 of these units, which could be located in developments like the Wellington neighborhood in Breckenridge, the Peak One neighborhood in Frisco, Dillon Valley Vistas in Dillon and the Smith Ranch neighborhood in Silverthorne. Murphy said about 100 new units were added to the housing authority’s list last year.

Though this may seem like a lot, Murphy said the cost to get new deed-restricted housing made available for sale in the community comes with similar challenges as building rental units. Murphy said the 5A and 6B ballot measures previously passed by voters help, but that these funding streams only go so far.

Another revenue stream that could provide funding for deed-restricted housing is through impact fees. Though the stipulations vary by jurisdiction, Summit County Housing Director Jason Dietz said this is primarily applied on new construction where developers have to pay a fee which is then used for affordable housing.

“All of the towns that are part of the Summit Combined Housing Authority get the 5A funds, and part of that ballot initiative was an impact fee on non deed-restricted (units) or projects that aren’t affordable workforce housing developments,” Dietz said.

These include all of the county’s towns except for Blue River.

Once for-sale units are made available, it becomes a race to call dibs under the county’s current housing climate. For starters, Murphy said there’s different eligibility criteria for all developments built. Some may have different income caps, some might have appreciation caps, but the vast majority require that owners and occupants work for a Summit County-based business.

Qualifying for a unit doesn’t guarantee a hopeful buyer a unit, however.

“We had 125 applicants for 40 units for Smith Ranch’s Phase 5 and we had 25 applicants for one Soda Creek condo,” Murphy said. “Those are the best examples that illustrate the demand.”

Murphy said, in general, units like these provide a much needed step-up for community members wishing to make Summit County their long-term home.

“The homeownership opportunities are critical because they provide people with an opportunity to put down roots and even with an appreciation cap, they become homeowners and they have an opportunity to build equity in their home,” Murphy said. “It becomes an asset for them as opposed to the disadvantages that can come along with renting.”

Though Murphy said he didn’t have a guess about how many new deed-restricted units for sale will be added to the market this year, he said any number is a win. He’s expecting both the Housing Helps program and the buy-down program, along with the sixth phase of Smith Ranch, to continue to make some of the biggest headway in the year to come.

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