Home improvement approved at Miller Ranch | VailDaily.com

Home improvement approved at Miller Ranch

Veronica Whitney

Vail Daily File photo

When his future townhouse at the new Miller Ranch housing complex in Edwards was being built, Rob Pierangeli added about $11,000 in improvements to his home.

But when he went to the closing, he was told that those improvements could not be added to the base price of his home as he had been told.

After getting several letters from confused homeowners,

Eagle County commissioners Tuesday approved changes to the deed restriction guidelines on the affordable homes at the 282-home public-private development.

The changes are aimed at making the project more desirable for homebuyers while keeping the project affordable for future owners.

“Keep your receipts!” Commissioner Michael Gallagher told the homeowners planning to make improvements to their new homes.

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Under the amended guidelines, Pierangeli, who opted for hardwood floors, a better carpet and counters, will be able to include the upgrades when he sells his home. However, that investment will not appreciate.

“This is a good concession,” Pierangeli said. “It’s not what our expectations were initially. We were told by the developer that the upgrades would appreciate with the home.”

Conflicting restrictions

The proposed revisions will allow homeowners to recover the cost of certain improvements on resale such as cabinets, flooring and counter tops, said Bryan Treu, assistant county attorney.

When some homeowners went last month to close on their new homes, they found out they had been given information that conflicted with the deed-restriction guidelines approved by the county commissioners in February. The guidelines approved allowed appreciation for structural improvements such as a finished basement, but precluded any appreciation in the homes for improvements such as granite counter tops or hardwood floors, for example.

The homes are expected to appreciate between 3 to 6 percent per year based on the average wage increase in Eagle County.

To keep the project affordable the value of allowable capital

Improvements cannot exceed 10 percent of the purchase price for each ten years of ownership.

“The allowed capital improvements while recoverable at resale will not be included in the 3 to 6 percent appreciation in an effort to maintain affordability for future buyers,” Treu said.

Pierangeli said that what bothers him is that the sales people told him that the only way to make upgrades for which the cost could be recovered was through the developer.

“Now, I know I could have done it with somebody else,” he said.

Doug Runckel, another homeowner at Miller Ranch who also said he felt he had been misled, added that it’s important to inform new homeowners of the changes and how they work.

“These developers have been a poor source of information,” he said.

Price control

Andrew Gerber, owner of ASW Realty, the developer of Miller Ranch, said there was a misunderstanding on their part in regards to the guidelines.

“It wasn’t intentional,” Gerber said. “Before this came out, we had gone to the commissioners to discuss some changes to the guidelines and they had taken it under advisement.”

Eagle County Administrator Jack Ingstad said new policies are better than the original outlines.

“It was unfortunate the way it had to involve the homebuyers,” Ingstad said.

When drafting the guidelines, the challenge was to come up with rules and regulations to help as many people as possible, said Commissioner Tom Stone.

“We have struggled and struggled with this and I would have a different view if the county hadn’t used taxpayers’ money,” he said. “We have a responsibility to do something that benefits the county as a whole and keep these homes affordable.”

The new neighborhood consists of lofts, condominiums, row houses, duplexes and single-family, detached homes. They range in size from 820 square feet to 1,511 square feet and the price range from $120,000 to $260,000.

Miller Ranch is a project within the larger Berry Creek development in Edwards. The public-private development joins privately held ASW Realty Partners with Eagle County, the Eagle County School District and Colorado Mountain College in an attempt, officials say, to build a community that provides affordable housing, education, open space and recreation in a neighborhood setting.

County commissioners also have agreed to advance money to build a community center and a daycare facility at Miller Ranch.

Veronica Whitney can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 454, or at vwhitney@vaildaily.com.