OTSH welcomed Jordan Bentley to the Board in fall, 2020. She grew up in St. Helena and joins her mother and brother at Wine Country Consultants, a real estate firm focused on legacy vineyards and wineries. Jordan met her husband, Rob Watermeyer, at Massachusetts College of Art, where they were both pursuing a Master of Fine Arts Degree in Photography.
After graduation, they remained on the East Coast for a few years, involved in a variety of creative pursuits. They moved back to St. Helena in 2011; Rob bought Frameworks, a framing and fine arts gallery, in 2016.
Jordan’s and Rob’s challenge: Coming up with a down payment
They’ve lived in St. Helena for ten years, and they’re involved in the community. Besides being Vice President of the OTSH Board, Jordan is on the Board and is President of the St. Helena Cooperative Nursery School and Rob has coached Rec sports and supports Nimbus Arts. They have two young sons, ages three and seven. Like most residents, Jordan and Rob love the quality of life that St. Helena affords, and they want their kids to grow up here. They’d like to own their own home, but saving for a down payment is a big challenge. They had saved money, but when Frameworks became available, they knew it was an opportunity they couldn’t pass up. Their down payment money was redirected towards the Frameworks purchase.
No homes at starter-home prices!
As a master framer and artist, Rob has continued to grow his business, and he’s built an enviable reputation in Napa Valley. Jordan is also doing well—she’s become a seasoned real estate agent who’s weathered the industry’s cyclical economies. They’re two well-educated business owners who are doing everything right. The problem is that no houses hit the St. Helena real estate market at the kinds of starter-home prices that help young families become home owners. If we hope to retain diversity in our town, we need to provide housing at a range of price points.
A three-bedroom condo will soon hit the market for $1.195M, making it the lowest-priced housing option in town. The monthly association fee is $700. The median priced home in St. Helena is $1.74M. What young family can afford these kinds of prices? How much, how long, do young families save for a down payment?
They can’t afford to live here: The economic reality for many young families
As much as they may love the schools and the community, many families simply can’t afford to live here, and they leave. For Rob and Jordan, this is their home, the place they’re raising their kids. They’re committed to staying right here in St. Helena. But without affordable housing, St. Helena will continue to lose these young families who contribute so much to the culture.