Montgomery County officials have taken steps to make home ownership a possibility for more moderate-income persons.
County Executive James P. Gleason and the Montgomery Council this week raised most of the income ceilings for persons eligible to be on the county's "early bird" list for moderately-priced homes. These persons have the first chance to buy homes built under provisions of a 1974 law designed to increase the number of moderate-cost residences built in the county.
At the same time, officials have also increased the maximum cost of most moderate - income housing, reflecting the inflation rate in the construction industry.
The changes, which becomes effective April 4, mark the first time in 14 months that the income limits have been revised and the first time in 18 months since the price limits have been changed.
Under the law, at least 15 per cent of homes built in a new private subdivision or apartment development containing 50 or more units has to be moderate-cost housing that will be sold or rented within price limits set by the county. The law was passed after the surveys indicated that housing being constructed for moderate-income persons was virtually nonexistent in Montgomery County, which is one of the most affluent counties in the nation.
Persons on the "earlybird" list have an 80-day period in which they are the only persons eligible to buy the homes. After that period expires, the homes can be sold to the general public. All purchasers of the moderately priced homes have to agree to live in the homes and not to sell the property for five years.
The changes in income and price limits are designed to reflect the inflation rate in the builing industry and to increase the number of persons on the eligibility lists who would be granted loans by lending institutions.
When the first group of homes built under the program went on sale in Montgomery Village last summer, it was found that many of the persons on the eligibility lists were not able to qualify for loans from banks. Of 93 moderately-priced units that were sold, 65 went to persons on the eligibility list and the rest went to the general public. The median income of those buyers on the eligibility list was $15,144 while the median income of the other purchasers was $17,499, according to figures from the county housing office.
The maximum income limits are being changed from $10,900 to $14,200 for one-person households; $14,500 to $16,200 for two-person households; $16,300 to $17,700 for three-person households; $18,100 to $19,200 for four; $19,600 to $20,700 for five; $21,000 to $22,200 for six; and $22,500 to $23,100 for seven. The limitation for eight-person households remains at $23,900.
The change in sales price means moderately priced housing can be sold at prices ranging from $20,505 for an efficiency apartment in a non-elevator building to $47,250 for a five-bedroom detached home. The previous range was $15,700 to $44,400. The highest price increase is in apartment style dwellings because of changes in fire code regulations, housing officials said.
The median sales price of new housing in Montgomery County last year was about $50,000.
About 100 moderate-cost townhouses are now being sold by Kettler Brothers Inc. in Montgomery Village and a total of about 50 single-family homes and townhouses are expected to be up for sale by summer in the Darnestown-Gaithersburg area and north Bethesda.