Norwood’s first lottery for affordable homes in the Pinion Park development took place Sept. 16 at the Lone Cone Library. With a dozen people in attendance and several more tuned in via Zoom, the process took about 30 minutes, as Norwood Mayor Candy Meehan and San Miguel County Commissioner Kris Holstrom took turns drawing numbered red plastic balls from an ice bucket.
“One gentleman broke down after the drawing in tears of joy,” Holstrom recounted. “Which helps bring home the importance of the hard work so many have put into this project, from concept to decisions in meetings, to groundbreaking, to those tears of joy and the realization that a real someone is going to move into a home.”
The lottery for 24 manufactured, energy-efficient homes located next to the Lone Cone Library, which targeted up to 120 percent area median income, saw 14 successful lottery winner-buyers. With the county exercising its right to purchase three of the homes, 17 Pinion Park houses will soon come under contract.
That leaves seven houses which haven’t yet sold either because certain houses buyers wanted to purchase were no longer available, or certain buyers didn’t qualify for the remaining homes based on household size, income (the homes have different tier levels) and/or mortgage prequal amount. A growing number of interested buyers are now on a reserve list vying for those seven remaining homes or for homes that could return to the pool if a buyer under contract drops out before closing.
Paul Major, Rural Homes manager, the nonprofit executing the project, said his team is proud of Norwood’s inaugural “transparent and fair” lottery process.
“To get everybody at the starting line and then they get to pick a house and now they’ve got a contract where they can buy a house at a set price that’s not going to change, that’s pretty cool,” he said.
A total of 19 buyers filed requisite deed restriction and mortgage prequalification documents to qualify for the lottery. While Major acknowledged that number may seem low, the baseline comparison is Telluride, a world class resort community with different market dynamics.
“Norwood hasn’t ever seen an affordable-housing opportunity before now, much less participated in a housing lottery system,” he said.
“With a smaller number of applicants than, say, Sunnyside or Longwill 16, we were able to give each applicant a lot of attention and help them through the lottery process,” San Miguel Regional Housing Authority Manager Courtney McEleney added.
Pinion Park consists of homes priced starting at $225,000 for a two-bedroom, two-bathroom; $325,000 for a three-bedroom, three-bath; and an average of $385,000 for a three-bedroom, three-bath with an attached garage. The two-bedroom models were in highest demand by lottery participants not just because they were the least expensive but also because in order to live in a three-bedroom, a buyer may not live alone.
In spite of the current economy where interest rates on home loans are skyrocketing, Major said Rural Homes is fortunate to work with lending partners that offer mortgage products with better terms.
Potential buyers were prepared to purchase homes even though they couldn’t physically tour them, relying instead on renderings of the factory-built houses.
“Part of the reason we’re proud is that these buyers took a leap of faith, trusting that we’re going to deliver a very high-quality home in a great neighborhood with lots of amenities,” Major explained.
Major reported that the physical site is progressing as planned with all roads, curbs and gutters installed, and most of the foundations poured. With houses currently on the factory line, the first set is scheduled to arrive in October, with all 24 homes scheduled to be placed on foundations in November. Buyers will close and movein during early December.
“There have only been a handful of newly constructed units in Norwood in the past five years. We’re on track to build 24 new homes in nine months,” project lead David Bruce said. “Pinion Park is the highest density neighborhood in Norwood, which is great from a land-use perspective. And every single household moving in is currently renting. I hope it’s lifechanging for these families to be able to have secure and stable housing.”
“We’re super satisfied with the type of people who got the option to buy a house: Members of the local work force,” Major added. “That’s really the goal.”
Major said Rural Homes has learned a lot through its initial housing effort in Norwood that will inform two housing developments the nonprofit is currently undertaking in Ridgway and Ouray.
“We went earlier with the lottery in Norwood because there was a lot of interest,” he said. “But people felt that until they knew the home prices, they didn’t want to commit. So for our next two projects, we want to launch the lottery closer to the moving-in date.”
Even though the housing lottery for Pinion Park is officially closed, there may still be an opportunity to purchase a home. Interested buyers can contact Rural Homes at [email protected] for more information.