Developer to give discount for qualified homebuyers

by Jeff Della Rosa ([email protected]) 2,085 views 

Home sales have started for the 80-home Willow Bend subdivision in south Fayetteville. One-third of buyers will be eligible for a $35,000 discount to purchase a home.

A $22 million infill development in south Fayetteville will allow income-qualified buyers to receive a $35,000 discount as part of the first shared equity homeownership program in Arkansas, said Tiffany Hudson, executive director for Fayetteville nonprofit Partners for Better Housing.

The nonprofit and Springdale-based developer High Street Real Estate & Development recently announced home sales have started at Willow Bend. The nonprofit is the developer, and High Street is managing home construction and sales.

The 9-acre development was designed to flow with the traditional architecture of the existing neighborhood near Walker Park on South Washington Avenue and for neighborhood income diversity. One-third of the homes are reserved for income-qualified families who earn up to 80% of median family income for Northwest Arkansas. For example, a family of four earning less than $58,901 annually would be eligible for the Pay it Forward discount.

Recipients must repay the discount when the home is sold. If they don’t sell the home in 30 years, they must refinance or apply for a home equity loan at the 30-year mark to repay the $35,000 discount, Hudson said.

The development was the first in the area backed by a $1 million cost-share agreement with the city of Fayetteville, and the money will be used to reduce home prices for the qualified buyers. The developer previously considered offering forgivable loans but opted for the discount.

“We’ve decided to utilize deed restrictions to create what we believe is the first shared equity homeownership program in the state of Arkansas,” Hudson said. “This model, while more challenging to implement, will benefit more families over time and will allow us to be an excellent steward of public and private dollars contributed to the program.”

The 80-home subdivision will include 13 floor plans, ranging from a 650-square-foot cottage with one bedroom and one bathroom to a 1,750-square-foot, two-story home with three bedrooms and three bathrooms. Architects Rob Sharp of Fayetteville and Eric Brown of Savannah, Ga., are the designers. Prices are expected to be from the upper-$100,000 to mid-$300,000 range.

“These are market-rate prices and do not include the $35,000 Pay it Forward discount or any other forms of down payment assistance available from [Arkansas Development Finance Authority], private mortgage lenders or other sources,” Hudson said.