Affordable housing sales through the Aspen/Pitkin County Housing Authority (APCHA) are on pace to be even with 2011, despite the addition of eight new units that were added to the inventory this year.
Through Dec. 12, there have been 57 units sold, with the total sales price reaching $11.2 million. That’s on pace with 2011 when APCHA sold about 60 units with a total sales price of $13 million.
Local developer Peter Fornell’s new affordable housing complex, called Ajax Apartments at 301 W. Hyman Ave., accounted for a large portion of the sales with all eight units in the development selling for a total of $989,000 and attracting 62 bidders. Seven of those units were highly-subsidized category 2 units and one was a category 3 unit. Fornell’s project was the only new addition to the housing inventory this year.
This year’s turnover was due to a range of reasons, which the housing authority collects when APCHA homeowners sell. A majority of people surveyed decided to sell their affordable housing units because they were either moving out of the Roaring Fork Valley or they purchased free-market homes in the midvalley, said Pam Gabel, APCHA sales manager.
Since October 2011, about 43 percent of people sold their APCHA units because they were buying free-market homes midvalley or moving out of the community, according to surveys collected over a year beginning on Oct. 16, 2011.
About 20 percent of the sellers left their units because they were moving to another deed-restricted unit in the valley and about 7 percent sold in order to rent in the area. Another 7 percent of the turnover was due to homeowners passing away.
Other reasons people sold was because they were court-ordered to sell, the owners divorced and no longer lived in the unit, or the home was foreclosed on.
Only one person in the past year sold their unit because they retired and wanted to leave the valley, said Cindy Christensen, APCHA operations manager.
Officials are hoping that more people will opt to leave the area when they retire and sell their unit so that the inventory can be used to make sure working people have a place to live.
Retirees living in affordable housing in Aspen is expected to become a bigger issue in the coming decade, with a wave of baby boomers set to leave the workforce. APCHA guidelines allow homeowners to retire in their units as long as they are 65 or older, have worked 1,500 hours annually for four years in Pitkin County, maintain occupancy in the unit for at least nine months a year and not own other property in the valley.
In a joint work session on housing held in October, multiple officials, including Aspen Mayor Mick Ireland, argued that the retirement issue isn’t as big of a threat to the current affordable housing inventory as previously thought, because many retirees will likely opt to leave the area themselves.
“It’s not the crisis that we once thought it was,” Ireland said.
Meanwhile, most of the units sold this year were at Centennial and Burlingame Ranch, but Gabel declined to comment on why those affordable housing complexes had high turnover due to privacy reasons. Centennial homeowners are currently looking at repairs for damage caused by water infiltration issues that are estimated to cost anywhere from $7,000 to nearly $100,000 per unit, depending on which experts’ studies are used.
Despite flat numbers, sales in the APCHA program seem to be picking up over the past few years, Gabel said.
Before the recession hit in 2008, APCHA regularly sold over 100 units a year. When the market peaked in 2007, there were 121 units sold, bringing in $25.4 million in sales. The following year, sales dropped 76 percent with only 29 units sold and garnering about $8.2 million in total sales.
Since then, affordable housing sales have hovered around 70 units a year. Last year, that activity dipped back down to 60 units sold.