‘Affordable’ home prices keep climbing in Aspen | AspenTimes.com

‘Affordable’ home prices keep climbing in Aspen

Janet Urquhart
Aspen Times Staff Writer

Yet another North 40 home is poised to set a record price in the affordable-housing market despite a dispute over how the sale price for the $1 million-plus house is calculated.

Homeowner Mark Uhlfelder, who wants to sell the house, has contested the Aspen-Pitkin County Housing Authority’s calculation of appreciation on the home. He took his grievance to the Housing Board on Wednesday; board members ruled against Uhlfelder, voting 3-1 to uphold the housing staff’s determination of how much his home has appreciated in value.

The two sides are $21,593 apart.

Uhlfelder contends he should be able to sell his home for $1,095,662 and said he has a buyer willing to pay that price. The housing office set the price for the home at $1,074,069.

Both sums eclipse the $1,054,978 price tag for another home in the North 40 subdivision, which made headlines when it went on the market last May. It is still for sale.

The contested price for Uhlfelder’s residence reflects differing interpretations of the deed restriction that caps appreciation for homes at North 40. The restriction reads, in part: “the owner is entitled to a maximum of 4 percent annual appreciation for each year or portion thereof that the unit is owned.”

Uhlfelder said he interprets that language to mean he is entitled to a full year of appreciation at 4 percent if he owns the home for part of a year. The Housing Board and housing staffers contend a homeowner is entitled to a prorated share of the annual appreciation when a house is sold before another full year’s worth of appreciation has accrued.

That is how home prices are calculated for all of the deed-restricted sale housing that the Housing Authority oversees, according to Cindy Christensen, operations manager.

In setting a sale price for the home, Uhlfelder is allowed to recoup the cost of construction, landscaping costs and appreciation.

“What we would request that the board do is just let the market take its course and not intervene,” said attorney Paul Taddune, representing Uhlfelder. “The buyer’s willing to pay the price. Who loses in that situation?”

Uhlfelder said Wednesday that he hasn’t decided whether he will pursue the matter further in court.

Homes at North 40 are RO, or resident-occupied, units ” the most expensive type of deed-restricted housing for local workers. Owners must live and work full time in Pitkin County.

North 40 developer John McBride sold lots at the subdivision, located next to the Aspen Business Center, to qualified workers who then built their own homes or had them built. There was no limit on the amount they could spend on their homes. When one is sold, the owner is allowed to set a price that reflects what was spent on its construction, plus the 4 percent appreciation.

When Uhlfelder’s neighbors listed their home for $1.05 million earlier this year, though, it spurred a new round of debate over RO ” a controversial component of the local worker-housing program, given its pricey nature within the context of “affordable” housing.

“We’ve seen RO do some odd things,” said Housing Board chairman Steve Elliott during a separate board discussion earlier in the evening. “I resent what has happened with RO.”

[Janet Urquhart’s e-mail address is janet@aspentimes.com]

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