Rentals become second-home ‘investment’ opportunity
GYPSUM – For $1,015 a month, Rhonda Meeks couldn’t have asked for much more. It was enough for a two-bedroom, two-bath apartment in Gypsum, enough room for her, her husband, their two children and a cat. For $1,015 a month, she and her husband could afford to pay rent, chip away at their debt and maybe sock a little money aside toward buying a home.And then in April, Meeks, who works in the Vail Daily’s advertising department, got the notice that her affordable apartment in Mountain Glen Village was up for sale. Her family had less than two weeks to put an offer on their unit – listed at $174,000 for the general public, but $166,000 with the 5-percent discount for those living in the complex. The cost of a mortgage, plus the homeowners fees typical of any condo in the area, was more than $1,300 – too much for Meeks. So she and her family moved. So did most of her neighbors. “I don’t think that anyone there could afford to stay,” she said.
When Mountain Glen Village was first built in 2000, it was supposed to be like many of the affordable housing apartments in Eagle County that are built and paid for by private developers but are sponsored by the government. But the cost of building Mountain Glen Village outweighed the income the complex brought in from rents. It was sold at an auction in 2004 and Eagle County, the sponsoring entity, was no longer associated with the project, said Mike Roeper, the county’s finance director. In the meantime, the complex continued to operate like an affordable housing apartment building until it was purchased several weeks ago.Now, about 50 percent of the Mountain Glen Village condos have been sold, said Herb Hirsch of SunVest Communities. The Florida-based development company is in the business of buying apartment complexes in places like Las Vegas and Palm Beach, and turning them into condominiums, he said. Hirsch estimated that about 30 percent of the buyers of SunVest properties are investors or second-home owners. This is the first property the company has purchased in Eagle County. “We like to be in resort areas,” Hirsch said, adding that his company would love to buy more properties like Mountain Glen in Eagle County, but there’s nothing available right now.
Hirsch said he was “not aware” that many of the renters of the complex could not afford to buy a unit. But, “there are people who are investors who are buying there for the purposes of renting,” he said. In Eagle County, affordable homes generally are those that are priced at $261,000 or less.Once Meeks and her husband decided not to purchase a unit, they had 90 days to move out, she said. The couple just purchased a mobile home in Eagle. Her mortgage on the home plus the cost of renting the lot the home sits on is just under $1,000 a month. She would have liked to have stayed in Mountain Glen, though, if she could have afforded it. “It was a nice place to live,” she said.
Staff Writer Tamara Miller can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 607, or firstname.lastname@example.org.Vail, Colorado