College Heights provides a market choice for a more affordable and environmentally sustainable lifestyle now denied to homebuyers.

Model Homes. Model homes are crucial for selling homes in advance of construction. The City owns a small lot at the corner of Overlook Ave. and Palisade St., which is separate from the main residential area. The model homes will be built upon entitlement and concurrently with site development. The lot is finished, with sidewalk, street pavement, water, sewer, storm drain and electricity utilities already in place. These homes will make the project real to buyers and allow them to see what the units look like.

The Affordability Incentive. The affordability incentive is the lower price for a home than anything else on the market, allowing more incomes to qualify for mortgages. The purchase also involves leased parking a short walk away down some stairs and energy that is purchased separately, with a total cost still below market for the combination. Additional affordability can come from not owning a car. If the buyer can go car free using all the TCM provided, they can save about $660 per month.

Interest list. As soon as an application for entitlement to build the project is approved, we will publicize the project and the affordability incentive, and invite interested people to sign up on an “interest list” submitted over the web or sent by email.

Sales office. The model homes will have the sales office. It will have sale agents and brochures.

Interviewing. Knowledgeable sales agentswill interview signers to get a sense of their seriousness, ability to buy, and preferences. Knowing we are serious about them reinforces their seriousness about us. The agents will clarify wait times before units are available for occupancy and all the details that make College Heights special. Agents will discuss with buyers how buying a unit includes buying into a special neighborhood, a very special neighborhood. Printed material is not enough. Discussion will help buyers be more open about issues they night have, and agents can help buyers know what they are getting into. We want realistic enthusiasm.

Travel diary. Agents willrecommend that buyers keep a two-week travel diary to see how trips will work for them in the project. Buyers may actually discover travel time advantages considering all the TCMs. They may even see a path to go car free. Agents will explain the TDMs and help buyers figure out how their trips will be made in College Heights. They will explain how visitors get access and how parking leases and utilities work.

Reservations. As soon as possible, we will sell reservations, as allowed for entitled projects explained in the state Subdivision Public Report Application Guide (SPRAG). Reservations require money down in exchange for certainty in getting a home.

Energy. Buyers need to know how the active energy is paid for separately from the units. The active energy is either purchased or leased. If purchased, the buyer can buy it outright or get an energy mortgage to buy it over time. Over time, the cost is comparable or less than a PG&E bill.

Agents will explain how the passive solar lowers energy costs over the long run and makes the solar energy more affordable, and how the amortized cost is similar to what the PG&E bill will be. They will explain how PG&E will bill for electricity used and also pay, but at a lower rate, for energy supplied to the grid. While College Heights agents are not solar representatives, they need to have up-to-date information for buyers on the availability of solar installation and available reliable companies in the area.

Options. The project will offer buyers various options. The plan will allow customization in response to what buyers want. The four-and five-bed townhouses are big enough to allow floor plan customization within the outside walls. The five-bed, for example, could be six. Also possible are changes for walk-in closets, bathrooms, separate toilet rooms, bigger shower stalls, kitchen islands, and closet-bath combos.

More conventional options include built-in big screen TVs for the living room or bedrooms, nooks for a computer or a dog bed. There are choices for cabinets, countertops, flooring, lighting, plumbing fixtures, and appliances. There can be some choice of color schemes and exterior ornamentation. For some buyers, sales may ultimately be based on an emotional desire. For example, I want a sunburst painted in gold on my façade.

Renting. While College Heights has been planned as a for-sale project, it could also have rentals. As discussed, the HOA management will have some powers as a rental agent. The HOA management or a professional property management service retained by the HOA may serve as an agent for owners who want it.

Buyers could be owners of a single unit, or a for-profit investor owning several units, or affordable housing agency. Such agencies can benefit project with their project management experience and their ability to serve low-income people.

Rent to own. Rent to own is basically buying without a down payment. Rent to own, also called option to purchase, could be available to renters whose profile, especially probable future earnings, supports buying. Their profile will include a desire to live there long-term, support for the broad concepts of the project, and travel patterns that work in College Heights. The qualification requirements are lower than for a mortgage, but higher than for renting. The potential renter-buyer can see if living in College Heights works for them. The incentives favor will-be buyers who need to build up their credit and have a savings program.