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Perham aims to attract new-home buyers

PERHAM - In an effort to spur growth, city officials here are offering 40 residential lots at affordable prices to attract more people to buy, build a house and move into town.

The effort comes just five years after the city offered 46 similar lots for sale in the development, and now all but 13 lots have been purchased. This newest initiative is an addition to the original Clearwater development.

Lot prices in the city's Clearwater First Addition range from $9,000 to $38,000. And incentives are being offered to low- and middle-income buyers who meet the guidelines.

Those who qualify can be forgiven of all assessments, a valuable incentive considering street, sewer, water and other infrastructure assessments range from about $16,000 to more than $32,000 for the largest lot in the development.

In addition, several Perham employers are offering incentive programs that encourage employees to buy or build homes in Perham.

Given the current economy and tighter credit for loans and mortgages, city officials doubt the new addition lots will sell as rapidly as the first Clearwater development, but they believe the incentives could sway some homebuyers.

Another incentive may be available next year, as the city is submitting an application to the state's Small Cities Development Program, which could bring in $505,000 in grant money for residential, rental and commercial development, according to Economic Development Authority Director Chuck Johnson.

Perham tapped into the state's Small Cities Development Program in the 1990s, which resulted in the improvements of downtown businesses and a number of rehabilitated homes around Perham, Johnson said.

Louis Hoglund is a reporter at the East Ottertail Focus in Perham and New York Mills, Minn., which is owned by Forum Communications Co.