Park City is the latest Wichita suburb to consider extending an incentive program for homebuyers, with action expected tonight on a program valued at $20,000.
The incentives, which have taken several forms in the metro area, are designed to encourage new home building and buying during a significant downturn in the Wichita-area housing market. All have met with some degree of success, city officials said.
Park City implemented a $1,000 credit toward the purchase of new homes in January, and has exhausted the program.
"We need another $20,000," said Jack Whitson, the city's administrator. "I don't know if it's going to pass... but it's bringing new people to town, for sure."
The plan, if approved, would partner with eight active developers in Park City, Whitson said. But its future tonight is unclear, he said.
"We did the deal first in 2009 for $500 and the council said no when we brought it back in July," Whitson said.
"Then Mayor (Emil) Bergquist brought it back in January and we got it passed on a 4-4 vote he broke in favor."
Similar programs are in place across the region, including Maize, Kechi, Garden Plain, Kingman and Newton.
A generous incentive package in Maize — up to $6,000 in utility credits if the new home is valued at over $500,000 — produced a record year for housing starts in 2009 at 51, said Richard LaMunyon, the city's administrator.
Maize's plan through 2010 is a $2,000 credit on water and sewer for any new home under $250,000.
The credit ratchets up to $4,000 for a home over $250,000 and the $6,000 credit for homes over $500,000.
In addition, homebuilders have joined the Maize council with their own incentives, so LaMunyon said total packages range from $3,000 to $18,000, depending on the development and type of home.
"I think the program's been very successful," LaMunyon said. "For our community, we had a record number of housing starts last year, more than twice the 24 in 2008 and significantly more than the 36 in 2007."
Kechi officials say their program was a huge success, albeit on a smaller scale.
"We didn't provide any cash out of pocket," said Kechi administrator Mark Tallman.
"We had a large development on the northwest corner of Rock and 254 that had sat idle. The timing was bad, and it was entirely vacant with all the infrastructure in. We had to try to kickstart building, so we approached developers with three free building permits and tap-ins to sewer, water and gas. They were gone in two days."
Maize has seen 15 more housing starts in the first four months of 2010 as the program continues, LaMunyon said.
"So I feel like the program has had a positive impact and will continue to do so," he said.