Does Colony Ridge sell land to illegal aliens? If so, why?
Short answer: Yes, because State and Federal law prevents discrimination based on race, gender, creed, religion, or nationality.
Long answer: We develop rural property in Liberty County and our model is to sell empty residential lots to any willing buyer. It is illegal under the Texas Constitution Sec. 3a as well as Federal law to refuse to sell property to a foreigner just because the buyer is not a U.S. citizen or Texas resident; in fact, it is illegal to even ask about a potential buyer’s immigration status. Our attorneys tell us that if we refused to sell property to someone from another country, we would face lawsuits from the potential buyer, from equal rights groups, and from the State and Federal government.
How many Colony Ridge customers are illegal aliens? How many illegal aliens live in the Colony Ridge development? Is that higher than the rest of Texas?
Answer: We guess it is about 20-22%. Because the law prevents us from asking about citizenship status, we don’t ask, so we don’t know how many non-citizens purchase property in Colony Ridge. However, all purchases require proof of identity. Over 77% of our buyer applications contain a social security number, Texas driver’s license number, and/or IRS-issued Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (required by the IRS for tax-reporting). If we assume the people that buy here end up living here, that would put the illegal population at about 20-22%.
Does Colony Ridge sell to cartels or gang members?
Answer: No. Every Colony Ridge real estate transaction includes a submission to federal authorities at the Office of Foreign Assets Control, and confirmation that the potential buyer is allowed to purchase/own the property. OFAC was created by the federal government to flag and prevent listed individuals and companies from owning assets in the U.S. OFAC lists individuals, groups, and entities, such as terrorists and narcotics traffickers regardless of the country of origin. Colony Ridge assures that no transaction occurs with any U.S. flagged groups or barred individuals, and we actively prevent sales to these unwanted individuals. If a buyer is named or associated with a flagged or prohibited group, we will not sell property to them.
Is Colony Ridge a haven for drug cartel activity?
Answer: No. We have received no report of any drug cartel activity, large or small, in any of our subdivisions. However, Colony Ridge property owners pay Liberty County over $1 million a year to employ twelve full-time sheriff’s deputies and constables to patrol the subdivision. This $1 million is over and above the $40 million that Colony Ridge property owners paid in property taxes to Liberty County last year.
Does Colony Ridge have “no-go” zones, or lawless areas where law enforcement is scared to patrol?
Answer: No. Recently, Governor Abbott deployed the Texas Department of Public Safety to Colony Ridge to observe and patrol the area. DPS Director Colonel Steven McGraw recently testified before the Texas Legislature regarding what he and his troopers found:
Is Colony Ridge a lawless, dangerous, or crime-ridden area?
Answer: No. The reported crime rate in Colony Ridge developments, especially simple drug related offenses, appears to be far below state and national averages. In story after story, reported over and over and over again, our residents will tell you that they moved here to get away from the crime in Houston, or Harris County, or other nearby Texas cities. They came here to live the American dream of home ownership in a safe and friendly development.
Does Colony Ridge have more crime than surrounding areas in Liberty County?
Answer: Kind of, but only because it has more people. Liberty County Sheriff Bobby Rader explained the situation to the House Committee on State Affairs.
Is Colony Ridge a “colonia,” a decaying neighborhood with no water, septic, roads, etc.?
Answer: No. We have developed all of our subdivisions as required by Texas law, the Model Subdivision Rules, and Liberty County’s own requirements for residential developments. These laws include 100’s of millions of dollars in infrastructure—namely, building ground-up drinking water facilities to ensure safe water that meets the State’s highest water quality standards, full sewer treatment facilities to protect against unsanitary conditions, and concrete roads that are designed and built by State licensed engineers to prevent flooding and allow safe and productive travel for homeowners and public safety officials. These investments are equally backed by 100’s of millions of dollars in bonds & financial guarantees and are underwritten by licensed banks and financial institutions to assure that the projects will be completed. Colony Ridge and its owners has never abandoned a project, failed to complete a development, or failed to install all the infrastructure that it promised in its residential subdivisions. We always complete our subdivisions with legally permitted, fully engineered, and County-approved water, sewer and road infrastructure, as well as high speed internet. Our subdivisions are not “colonias.”
To be clear, Colony Ridge property owners have all of the rights and power that any other residential property owner would have to use their property as they wish. Deed restrictions vary from area to area in Colony Ridge, so some areas have strict building rules and some have fewer building restrictions. Here is some video of our neighborhoods:
Are Colony Ridge subdivisions poor areas?
Answer: It depends on what that means to you. Because our developments are rural, our sale prices are generally below the national and state average, which helps alleviate the national housing shortage and provides entry-level home buyers the opportunity to experience the American dream of homeownership. Our buyers represent the proud, responsible, hard-working, but generally poorer population who are working their way up. Most of the homes are starter homes or trailers. Some homes clearly show an architect’s touch, but many are plain. Many of the homes are built by the property owners themselves, on weekends or after work, as the owners have time and money. As a result, many of the homes do not carry a traditional mortgage and their owners are debt free.
How does Colony Ridge sell it lots? Does Colony Ridge sell through a contract for deed?
Answer: We follow the Texas Finance Code and federal law regarding residential lot sales. Our empty residential lots generally cost between $40k and $65k, depending on which area our buyers chose. The low purchase price of our lots makes down payments and monthly payments more manageable for our lower and middle class buyers. Buyers are free to pay all cash, get their own traditional bank financing, or have an affiliated-company (Colony Ridge Land, LLC, NMLS#1459515) finance the sale.
Some of our buyers have poor credit or no credit, or they don’t have traditional banking relationships that upper class buyers enjoy. When these buyers need someone to give them a chance, Colony Ridge Land, LLC will “owner-finance” the lots, which means engaging a third party, independently licensed mortgage loan originator to disclose all of the financing terms and conditions, answer any questions from buyers, and assure compliance with all Truth-In-Lending and similar laws. Buyers are always free to payoff their lot loan early or refinance at a traditional bank, at no additional cost or expense.
We have never offered lots for sale through a contract for deed.
Why does Colony Ridge offer such low down payments and low monthly payments?
Answer: We never want to foreclose or have to buy back a lot from an owner. Foreclosure is expensive and time-consuming, and foreclosure costs can quickly overtake any equity in these relatively inexpensive lots. We always lose money if we have to take a lot back, so we encourage owners to improve their property and build a home as soon as they can. Low monthly lot payments are the easiest way to make sure owners have cash flow to build their home. Homeowners are much less likely to face foreclosure than simple empty lot owners.
Are you selling lots to people that cannot afford them?
Answer: No. Lot loans do not require compliance with federal “ability to repay” laws. However, even if we did have to comply with FHA requirements, 93.6% of applicants would qualify under FHA’s home loan underwriting requirements.
Does Colony Ridge market to illegal aliens?
Answer: No, we only run ads in Texas. We do not have billboards, radio ads, or any other advertisement outside of Texas. The majority of our advertising, even online advertising, focuses on reaching residents who live in and around Houston.
Why do you market the development as “Terrenos Houston?”
Answer: When we started, we advertised only in English. When we realized a large portion of our customers are from nearby Houston, and 38% of Houston residents speak Spanish as their first language, we began marketing in English and Spanish. “Terrenos Houston” means “Houston Land.”
What about environmental damage? Does Colony Ridge follow environmental laws?
Answer: Of course, but no one is perfect. Developing property means changing the land, and that can be dirty, hard work. Our subdivisions are all reviewed and approved by licensed engineers as to drainage and flood prevention. In the last Hurricane, we received no reports of houses in Colony Ridge being flooded, although the area was pretty wet for a month. When asked to report on our developments’ compliance with environmental laws and regulations, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality testified before the Legislature in October 2023:
Do Colony Ridge residents stress the local government resources?
Answer: Our development has contributed billions to the local tax base, and Colony Ridge property owners pay more than $40 million a year in property taxes into the Liberty County budget which is used to fund better public schools, law enforcement, and fire departments. More housing means more consumers, which stimulates the local economy and generates millions in sales tax dollars as well. Only about 35% of Colony Ridge lots are actually occupied, which means the remaining 65% of lot owners pay for county services but do not use them. Maybe that is why Liberty County actually lowered its tax rate in 2020, again in 2022, and again this year.
Does the county leadership approve the developments?
Answer: Yes. The developments are all overseen and approved by the local county commissioners. Each development plan is submitted for approval before beginning any work, and the county engineers oversee and approve the construction of the infrastructure as it is put it. When the roads, water and septic systems are completed, the county then conducts a full-scale review, approves the project, and takes over the responsibility for roads and maintenance. We work closely with local officials to ensure these developments meet the county’s expectations and requirements.
- Colony Ridge is a land developer, not a home builder. However, from time to time Colony Ridge may be required to foreclose on a property that has a dwelling. Such inventory or resale is rare.