Rules may limit options for Chamonix property in Vail | VailDaily.com

Rules may limit options for Chamonix property in Vail

VAIL — Residents and town officials will make most of the decisions about what gets built at the Chamonix property in West Vail. But federal lending rules may take some decisions out of the town's hands.

The town has already asked for bids for street and utility work on the 3-acre site. And the units will be for-sale, with appreciation caps known as deed restrictions built into the sale contracts.

But there are a lot more above-ground decisions left to make, including the number of units — probably somewhere between 45 and 55 — and what kinds of units will be built. At the moment, the idea is for a mix of condominiums, townhomes and, probably, a few duplex units.

The condos and townhomes present questions that are fairly easy to answer as far as number of units, pricing and, ultimately, how much the town is willing to subsidize the project to keep prices down.

The duplex units may create some unique problems.

Attracting Well-to-do buyers

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Some town officials, particularly council member Greg Moffet, have said the town needs to have more-expensive units at Chamonix, in order to attract, for instance, a new-to-town attorney or dentist with a young family.

But Chris Neuswanger, a mortgage broker with Avon-based Macro Financial Group, said those more-expensive units could create difficulties for buyers, both in getting a mortgage and, later, selling the unit.

Neuswanger helped buyers get into the condo units at the Vail Commons project above City Market. In fact, he helped create new rules that allowed those mortgages to be purchased by Fannie Mae, the nation's largest mortgage repurchaser.

The repurchase of mortgages by both Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, both federally-chartered and backed, is essential for lenders to keep making loans. But those organizations' rules can be stiff.

Neuswanger said Fannie Mae only buys mortgages for properties that come with rock-solid appraisals. Home appraisals are based in large part on the sales and values of comparable homes in the area. And deed-restricted homes have to be compared to other homes that are similarly restricted.

The lack of similar properties could be even more of a problem when an owner decides to sell. Without what Neuswanger called a "rock-solid" appraisal, it could be difficult, if not virtually impossible, to sell the home.

'Really Need to Research this'

Vail Housing Director Alan Nazarro acknowledged the potential problems. On the other hand, he said, there are more-expensive units at the Peak One deed-restricted neighborhood in Frisco, as well as the similar Wellington neighborhood in Breckenridge. Those units have all been sold.

"We're going to look into all of that before we make any final decisions," Nazarro said. "But we really need to research this."

And, while questions remain regarding exactly what will be built at Chamonix, answers to those questions could come fairly soon. Nazarro said the town council at its Feb. 16 meeting will get a look at information gathered at a Feb. 3 open house. And, he added, he hopes all kinds of potential buyers attend that all-day open house, so council members get a better idea of what people actually want at the site.

Vail Daily Business Editor Scott Miller can be reached at 970-748-2930, smiller@vaildaily.com and @scottnmiller.