There are lots of questions people have in their minds about being able to afford a house. Especially in cities like Washington D.C., New York, San Francisco – any of these metro areas that have rapidly grown and changed over the last few decades. Housing costs have increased significantly. A quick search shows that the average cost of a one-bedroom apartment in D.C. has been hovering around the $2,000 mark for over the last five years. Some years and months above, some below.
So how does one begin the arduous task of putting money away to buy a home when such a large portion of your paycheck goes to just paying for the place you currently inhabit?
Well, fortunately D.C. has some programs, and your Realtor can use some techniques to help you put a small amount down, or even get a seller credit to help cover some of your closing costs. It’s not a guarantee in every situation, but I think it might be easier than some people think to get themselves out of paying someone else’s mortgage (renting) and paying their own.
For example, programs like D.C. Opens Doors and the HPAP (Home Purchase Assistance Program) are sometimes useful for people who don’t have a lot of cash available. D.C. Opens Doors can help people have a 3% or 3.5% down payment which converts to a grant if the homeowner stays in the property for five years. Then the purchaser just needs to have the closing cost cash on hand. D.C. Opens Doors is attractive for competitive offer situations, which happen often in this city, because you can still have a 30-day closing period, which is pretty common. There are income maximums and loan amount maximums that apply here, but they are pretty healthy and people with average incomes in this city would qualify.
With regards to HPAP, this is how it is described on the D.C. Department of Housing and Community Development website: “As of 2017, eligible applicants can receive a maximum of $80,000 in gap financing assistance and an additional $4,000 in closing cost assistance. The HPAP 0% interest loan for borrowers with incomes below 80 percent of the area median income (AMI) is deferred until the property is sold, refinanced to take out equity, or is no longer their primary residence. Moderate-income borrowers who earn between 80 percent and 110 percent AMI will have payments deferred for five years with a 40-year principal-only repayment period. The maximum first trust loan amount cannot exceed $417,000, the conventional conforming loan limit.”
There are many other details regarding these programs, and if you really want to know more, contact me, and I can put you in touch with a local lender who understands the ins and outs of these programs, and can walk you through what you need to prepare financially for transitioning into home ownership!
Oh, and there’s always Powerball and Mega-Millions, too.
Joseph Hudson is a Realtor with the Oakley Group at Compass. Reach him at 703-587-0597 or firstname.lastname@example.org.