Vail sets May 3 for Chamonix housing lottery
• An information meeting is set for Jan. 24 from 3 to 7 p.m. at the Grandview room atop the Lionshead parking structure.
• Prices: Estimated from $385,000 to $740,000. Most are in the $500,000-$600,000 range.
• Area Median Income in 2016 was $79,600 for a three-person household in Eagle County.
• That income is enough to qualify for a mortgage on the lowest-priced townhome.
VAIL — It may not take long to sell the 32 townhomes planned for the new neighborhood along Chamonix Road in West Vail. That process started in earnest Tuesday, aiming for a May 3 date for a lottery system to choose buyers.
The town of Vail has out a website for the project — which should start construction this spring. Within 24 hours, the town had received almost 30 letters of interest. Given that early interest — as well as an earlier list that had a few hundred names — there could be a lot of names in the hat for the lottery to pick buyers for the two- and three-bedroom townhomes.
But interest isn’t the same thing as a qualified buyer, and buyers may have some hurdles to clear.
The biggest one is income. According to federal statistics, the 2016 area median income is $79,600 for a three-person household in Eagle County. That number includes two wage-earners. The area median income for a four-person household is $88,400.
Who earns that?
People earning that income could be, for instance, a teacher with some experience and a light equipment operator in Vail.
According to a November fact sheet from the town, the four-person household earning 100 percent of the area median income would qualify for a home that costs $485,000.
That family would be about $30,000 short of the lowest estimated price of a three-bedroom Chamonix unit with a one-car garage: About $515,000.
A two-earner household at 120 percent of the area median income could include people working as a civil engineer and executive assistant.
When those families decide to enter the lottery for a Chamonix unit, the biggest part of that process will be getting approved for a mortgage.
Mike Glass, president of Alpine Bank’s Vail branch, said that process won’t look different than seeking a qualification letter for a free-market unit. Prospective buyers will need tax returns, employment histories and credit scores, among other things.
Qualifying for a mortgage is more difficult today than it was in the go-go years of the real estate market — 2005 or so — and only slightly easier than it was in the tight-money era of 2009.
“It’s still fairly challenging to qualify for a loan,” local mortgage broker Chris Neuswanger said. “It’s time to start getting (documents) together and saving your down payment.”
Will lenders lend?
The loans available to Chamonix buyers could be somewhat difficult to get, Neuswanger said. The difficulty lies in appraising a brand-new homes that don’t really have any existing property that has similar values and deed restrictions.
Glass said the specific language of the Chamonix deed restriction will have an effect on how willing investors are to participate.
Glass said Alpine and other banks have pools of investors that buy mortgage notes. The exact language of the deed restrictions will be passed along to those investors, and they’ll either agree or decline to participate.
If the investors decline, then Glass said Alpine and other banks have the ability to take on a certain number of mortgages and keep them in-house. That’s a little easier when multiple banks are involved and there are only 32 units to sell.
“I have a great deal of confidence Alpine and other institutions will be able to lend on that project,” Glass said.
Still, Chamonix is different.
Vail Community Development Department Director George Ruther wrote in an email that the homes at Chamonix will be priced from 25 to 35 percent below what comparable free-market homes in Vail would cost.
But some of the Chamonix units will be most expensive deed restricted homes sold in the valley.
The starting price — estimated at about $399,000 for a two-bedroom, two-bath unit with a one-car garage — is at the high end of what deed-restricted homes sell for at Miller Ranch in Edwards and Eagle Ranch in Eagle.
Tori Franks, of Eagle County’s Valley Home Store, said perhaps 25 people on the 125-person waiting list at Miller Ranch qualify for the most expensive homes there.
“But anything in Vail is going to have a good amount of demand,” Franks said. “It’s in Vail, it’s on the bus route and it’s brand new.”
With all that in mind, Ruther wrote that Chamonix is still on schedule toward a spring construction start. That means the first residents could move in by the end of this year.
The ski racer turned hotelier who was close to President Ford embodied the soul of Vail for nearly 60 years.