A San Francisco- and Denver-based company is helping University of Colorado employees purchase homes through a down payment assistance program, and officials hope to extend those services to the Pikes Peak region by the end of this year.

CU officials this week announced a partnership with Landed, Inc., that will help employees buy homes in the developed, urban and near-urban regions of 11 Colorado counties: Denver, Arapahoe, Jefferson, Adams, Douglas, Boulder, Broomfield, Elbert, Park, Clear Creek and Gilpin, according to a Feb. 17 news release from CU.

The program is available to full-time CU employees — those who work at more than 20 hours per week— who can contribute as little as a 5 percent down payment.

“Rising housing costs in Colorado make it challenging for some of our employees to afford homes. This program will help them live in the communities they serve,” CU President Mark Kennedy said in the news release. “Our partnership with Landed will also help improve staff recruitment and retention by helping them make home ownership more accessible.”

All benefits-eligible, full-time faculty and staff who have worked in public education — either at CU or at another educational institution — for at least two years can use Landed’s down payment program, which CU says will not replace its Faculty Housing Assistance Program offered to tenured and tenure track faculty.

The program invests alongside CU employees to help them reach a 20 percent down payment on a new home, Ian Magruder, head of new markets partnerships and business development, told the Business Journal.

- Advertisement -

Landed’s funds, up to $120,000 per household, come in the form of an equity investment in which Landed gets a portion of the gain or loss of the home’s value once it is sold or refinanced, according to the news release.

“We essentially provide the bridge capital you need in order to get a 20 percent down payment up to $120,000,” Magruder said. “It’s not a loan, so unlike a traditional mortgage, it doesn’t have an interest rate and no monthly payment — we are simply co-investing in the home and making an assumption that over the long term, these homes will appreciate. Homebuyers in places like Boulder, Denver and Aurora will, in the long term … do well and share in part of that gain.”

The goal is to help people get to 20 percent in order to avoid paying private mortgage insurance, Magruder said.

Landed, which has K-12 and higher education clients across the country, first established a Colorado presence in 2018, working with K-12 educators through partnerships with Denver Public Schools, Boulder Valley School District, Aurora Public Schools and others.

“Our mission is to help essential professionals,” Magruder said. “We think that teachers, nurses, firefighters, police — all the people who make communities work — are having a harder time building routes and being able to live in the communities they serve. We thought this was a really sustainable way of addressing the housing challenge and affordability challenge that so many of these folks face.”

To date, more than 50 Denver and Boulder area educators have purchased a home with Landed’s down payment program, and more than 1,000 have received homebuyer resources and educational materials, making Colorado Landed’s most successful region outside of California, according to the news release.

While El Paso County is the one University of Colorado campus location where the down payment program isn’t yet active, Magruder said it’s only a matter of time.

“[El Paso County] is another area where this program could work well,” he said. “It is just not currently included in the investment criteria we have at the moment. … It’s essentially the broader Denver and Boulder metro areas, and all the areas around every CU campus besides El Paso County right now.”

The organization hopes to open the program to El Paso County homebuyers by fall 2020.

“We are actively expanding the areas that we serve,” he said. “We’ve raised pretty substantial impact investment capital from both philanthropies that see us as a really sustainable approach to addressing the housing challenge long term and … increasingly pension funds are coming in and helping invest in this type of approach.”

Meanwhile, Magruder said, CU employees living in El Paso County can use Landed’s other services, which include building an expert team to help navigate homebuying options, competitive offer reviews, and homebuying education and guidance to help employees in education prepare for homeownership.

“That’s all available to any CU employee,” he said. “The down payment program is as well. You just couldn’t currently use it to buy a home in El Paso County. … We think, in our next investment round, we’ll be able to include El Paso County.”