New program coming to Ogden to make homes more affordable for teachers, government workers

Eligible employees can receive up to $120,000 in shared-equity down payment support.

(Leia Larsen | The Salt Lake Tribune) Gov. Spencer Cox discuss Utah's affordable housing challenges at a news conference Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2021, announcing Ogden City's partnership with Landed, a company that provides down payment support for essential workers looking to buy homes.

Ogden • As Utah’s housing market continues to skyrocket, moving the dream of homeownership out of reach for many working families, Ogden City is partnering with a national organization to offer its employees and educators a leg up.

With the new program, eligible workers can receive up to 50% of their down payment from the brokerage firm Landed, a San Francisco Bay Area-based company that helps teachers, public safety workers and government employees afford housing in expensive places. The down payment assistance is not a loan. Instead, the property owner will share a portion of their home’s gain or loss with Landed.

“The biggest challenge for a new homeowner is often saving for the down payment,” Mayor Mike Caldwell said Monday at a news conference announcing the partnership, which he called a ”giant step in the right direction.”

The down payment assistance can help buyers avoid fees, like mortgage insurance, that cause housing payments to balloon for many essential workers.

All employees of Ogden City, Roy City and Ogden School District can apply to receive up to $120,000 in shared-equity down payment support. If buyers opt to have Landed cover 50% of their down payment, they will pay Landed 25% of their home’s value appreciation after buying out of the investment or selling the house. If the property loses value, Landed would instead take a 25% share of the loss.

“We believe this is a fair and sustainable way to address the [affordability] challenge,” said Ian Magruder, Landed’s head of partnerships. “We can then reinvest that capital into future essential professionals’ homes.”

Not so long ago, Ogden was considered one of the nation’s top cities for “cheapskates” and a place where young entrepreneurs could find grand historic houses for “a crazy-cheap affordable price.” But the city’s housing stock has since been swept up in the affordability crisis plaguing the rest of Utah.

“Over the past, really, six years we’ve seen the largest increase in housing prices in our state’s history,” Gov. Spencer Cox said at the news conference. “This is growth that’s unsustainable.”

Utah’s supply of housing isn’t meeting demand, and the issue appears to be getting worse. There are currently 2,000 homes for sale statewide, Cox said.

“I don’t know how to put that in perspective, except to say normally this time of year, we would have 20,000 to 30,000 homes for sale,” he said.

“This is just the beginning, we still have a long ways to go,” the governor continued. “The cool thing about Utah is we don’t rely on government to solve all of these problems. We rely on our nonprofit sector, we rely on the private sector.”

In 2019, Landed received an Ivory Prize for Housing Affordability from Ivory Innovations, an academic institution part of the University of Utah’s David Eccles School of business that’s trying to develop solutions to the nation’s housing issues.

Clark Ivory, CEO of Ivory Homes and a member of the Ivory Innovations advisory board, said the cost of homes is rising twice as fast as educators’ salaries.

“In high-priced communities ... and right here in Ogden, the down payment is a daunting challenge,” for teachers and public employees, Ivory said. “The availability of an equity partner can be an essential ingredient.”

Landed has helped essential workers buy homes in pricey metro areas like Denver, Seattle, Boston and Los Angeles, according to its website.

The Ogden partnership is Landed’s first time launching a program in Utah.

In addition to down payment assistance, Landed also provides homebuying education as well as a network of agents and lenders. The company is hosting two online “Info Sessions” about its Ogden program, at 1:30 p.m. on March 10 and 5 p.m. on March 11. For more information and to register, visit Landed’s event page.