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Affordable homes available on Sanibel for qualified buyers

By Staff | Feb 8, 2011

Community Housing & Resources recently hosted a booth at the Sanibel Farmer’s Market to stir interest in the five homes that are still available for sale in its limited-equity ownership program. For eligible purchasers to be able to take advantage of subsidies from the state of Florida, these homes must sell by May 31. That deadline is vitally important, as CHR assumes qualified purchasers are in need of these subsidies.

CHR board member Lynn Ridlehoover and resident CC Caldwell spoke to interested shoppers about the benefits of the limited-equity homeownership program.

“We’re so happy to be at the Farmers Market promoting this program because it benefits everyone–the person who gets the opportunity to own a home on Sanibel they otherwise couldn’t afford, and the community that gains a great new citizen who is already involved in the island because he or she works here,” Ridlehoover said.

“CHR and the subsidiary we formed to be able to do this, the Coast and Islands Land Trust, have worked very hard to make available truly lovely homes for people who work on the island serving in all sorts of important jobs,” said Phillip Marks, president of the land trust. “These folks would never otherwise be able to afford to live here yet they’ve been commuting here, sometimes for years and sometimes great distances, to serve the needs of the island and the people who live here. By becoming islanders themselves, they have a greater stake in the community they wouldn’t have as renters and they tend to become more involved in many ways.”

The homes are certified at the GOLD level by the Florida Green Building Coalition with high-efficiency air conditioning, Energy Star appliances, metal roofs, and hurricane resistant windows and doors.

“You can love a rented home, of course, but it’s a special feeling to be a homeowner, and that’s what we wanted to make available to island workers,” said CHR board member Ray Pavelka. “This limited-equity ownership program also gives CHR renters a natural progression to move from rental to ownership as their income increases.”

Four homes are available in the Centre Place complex (on Centre Street behind Billy’s Bikes). All of those houses have three bedrooms and two bathrooms. One home is available at Sanibel Highlands on Whitehall Street near the “T” intersection of Middle Gulf Drive and Casa Ybel Road, and it has two bedrooms and one bathroom.

“All of the homes are absolutely beautiful,” Ridlehoover commented. “The Centre Place homes are new and while they are behind Billy’s Bikes, you don’t feel like you’re in the middle of town when you are inside the home. The landscaping has been left very natural and the view out the windows gives you a very tranquil feeling. The home at Sanibel Highlands, while not new, has been completely renovated, top to bottom.”

Those renovations include new HVAC units, Energy Star appliances, new carpeting and tile, hurricane windows, new cabinetry, and sinks. “The extent of the renovations make it feel like moving into a new home even though the homes at Beach Road and Sanibel Highlands were older structures. Except for the structurally sound building itself, the homes were pretty much gutted, and it definitely feels like being in a new home in every way,” said one Beach Road homeowner. The Beach Road units are all sold but are similar to the one still for sale at Sanibel Highlands.

The qualifications for purchasers are:

• Unlike when the program was originally announced, buyers do not have to be a first-time homebuyer to qualify for this program.

• You must work on the island or own a small business on the island.

• You must have a FICO (credit) score of at least 600.

• You must meet the income guidelines, which are a maximum of 120 percent of area median income.

The maximum annual incomes are:

• One-person household: $51,840

• Two-person household: $59,160

• Three-person household: $66,600

• Four-person household: $73,920

• Five-person household: $79,920

• Six-person household: $85,800

• Seven-person household: $91,680

• Eight-person household: $97,680

Subsidy assistance is available to reduce the price of a 3BR/2BA home to as low as between $148,000 and $166,000 for a 3BR/2BA home at Centre Place, depending on a purchaser’s economic circumstances, and much lower for the completely renovated unit that’s available at Sanibel Highlands on Whitehall Street.

People who would like to learn more about the program should contact Patti Bohm of Community Housing and Resources at 472-1189.