Legal trouble brewing at Miller Ranch
Lauded as the ideal model for a resort-area affordable housing project when the first buyers began moving into Miller Ranch in October, now there are apparently some problems in paradise.Flyers began appearing on doorsteps last week at the Edwards development, asking residents if they wanted to band together to legally challenge Miller Ranch developers ASW Realty Partners and Eagle County for misrepresenting the resale potential of the units.”Was the fact that pre-construction upgrades would not be included in base price for calculating resale represented to you incorrectly by ASW Realty Partners and ultimately Eagle County?” the flyers reads. “Did you show up at closing shocked to find out that the upgrades would not be included in base price?”The flyer, circulated by Miller Ranch resident Doug Runckel, claims the county attorney told him that the cost of upgrades purchased from the developer, such as hardwood floors, ceramic tiles and custom countertops, will be not be used by the county to determine maximum resale price on the deed-restricted units.That contradicts what at least eight homeowners were told by members of the Miller Ranch sales team prior to closing, Runckel says, although he declined to be quoted directly for this story until he spoke to his attorney.County administrator Jack Ingstad acknowledges there is a problem, and says a meeting with ASW and members of the sales team to explore a remedy was scheduled for Friday, Dec. 5 at which point he hopes a solution can be finalized and presented to the county commissioners at their Tuesday, Dec. 9 meeting.”It sounds like there were some communications problems and people were relying on some things that were said,” Ingstad says, “and what we’ve go to do is find out what the problems are and make it right for some people.”Legally, we know what the (county) guidelines (attached to the deeds) say, and we need to find out what went on and make it right.”A marketing representative for ASW did not return a phone requesting comment by press time.According to Runckel, Miller Ranch buyers signed contracts and purchased upgrades not knowing that the full amount of upgrades ranging between $8,000 and $16,000 per buyer would not be used to calculate resale prices. That information only came out in master association documents made available in July, he says.Under county regulations, the cost of any upgrades done by owners after purchase can only be recouped at a rate of 10 percent. But Runckel contends buyers were led to believe the full amount of the upgrades sold by the developer at the time of initial purchase would be tacked onto to the base price of the units, which range in price from $120,000 for a loft to $260,000 for a single-family home.Resale of the 282 units scheduled to be completed by 2005 is already capped at an appreciation rate of between 3 and 6 percent a year depending on how much wages increase annually in Eagle County.Runckel predicts a net loss for homeowners who purchased upgrades if the county guidelines are strictly enforced. In his flyer, he asks anyone who feels they were misled to call him at 926-7330 and join in retaining an attorney to draft a letter to the county.”The more homeowners involved the better,” Runckel writes. “If the letter does not help to resolve the issue and further representation is necessary, legal fees could be split among all the homeowners involved.”
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