In The Know: DC’s First Time Home Buyer Program

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Buying your first house should be an exciting milestone in your life.

As the capital of the nation, buying in Washington, DC means locating yourself right in the heart of things. In a place where so much history has been made. But the drawback is that can come with a pretty hefty price tag.

The District of Columbia has the second-highest median home values in the whole country, at $626,911. But don’t assume a DC home lease is your only option. Homeownership may be more accessible than you think. 

Happily, DC is also home to several first-time buyer programs, set up to help people get on the first rung of the property ladder. Would you like to know more about them, and find out whether you qualify?

Join us as we explore everything you need to know as a first time home buyer in DC.

Options for a First Time Home Buyer in DC

The District of Columbia Housing Finance Agency aims to help people to get buy their first Washington DC home. It uses a number of programs to do this. Some are accessible to first-time buyers, but not exclusively for them. 

DC Open Doors Program

The DC Open Doors program assists buyers in DC in three ways:

  • Home purchase loans
  • Down payment support
  • Closing cost assistance

Interestingly, this scheme is not just for first-time buyers. Repeat homebuyers can also benefit, as long as they do not own another home.  

Down payment assistance comes in the form of a Down Payment Assistance Loan (DPAL). If there is a disparity between your first trust mortgage loan and the purchase price of your home, the DPAL can cover this. There are no monthly payments to make and it will be repaid upon sale of the property, refinancing, or after 30 years. 

Some of the eligibility requirements include:

  • Credit score of 640 or higher
  • Maximum income of $151,200
  • Maximum debt-to-income ratio of 50%

This scheme is open to both residents and non-residents of DC. This makes it ideal if you’re looking to relocate to the capital. 

Home Purchase Assistance Program (HPAP)

This program is available only to a first time home buyer in DC. It aims to provide gap financing to eligible homebuyers who are in very low and moderate income levels. 

You can gain assistance if your annual income is up to 110% of the area median income. The HPAP provides two forms of assistance:

  • Down payment assistance – maximum $80,000
  • Closing cost assistance – maximum $4,000

Additionally, homebuyers need to have a good credit rating and the home must be their primary residence. It only applies to homes within the District of Columbia. 

You will have to repay the HPAP loan if you sell your home, it’s no longer your primary residence, or you refinance your mortgage. For moderate-income households, the repayments are deferred for 5 years, and then repaid over 40 years. For low-income households, no repayments are due unless you sell or refinance.

DC4ME Program

Do you work for the DC District Government?  If you do, the DC4ME program could be just the assistance you need to purchase your first home.

To be precise, the eligibility criteria is as follows:

  • Must be a first-time homebuyer
  • At least one borrower must work full time for the District Government
  • Maximum household income must not exceed 120% of the area median income – currently, $151,200
  • Sale price of home not to exceed $530,000
  • Minimum credit score of 640
  • Maximum debt to income ratio of 50%
  • One borrower must take a Homebuyer Education Class

DC4ME helps homebuyers by providing them with first trust mortgages at reduced interest rates. Three percent downpayment assistance with a 0% deferred subordinate loan is also available. 

The DC4ME program can also be combined with HPAP and the District of Columbia Employer Assisted Housing Program (EAHP). 

Other Programs Available to DC Residents

The programs mentioned above are all specific to DC residential real estate. However, they are not the only programs that can help you to buy a home in DC. 

FHA Loan

If you have a credit score between 580 and 640 and a down payment of at least 3.5%, you could be eligible an FHA loan. In fact, even with a credit score as low as 500, you may be eligible if you have a 10% down payment. 

These loans do come with one caveat. If your down payment is lower than 20%, you will need to take out FHA mortgage insurance.

VA Loan

If you are a member of the US military, either active duty or veteran, you can qualify for a 100% VA loan. You don’t need a downpayment but you will have to pay a funding fee. However, this can be rolled into your monthly repayments. 

This program is also open to qualified spouses. 

Other Programs

There are further programs offered by the federal government and some lenders to help people to buy their first home. These include:

  • Good Neighbor Next Door – for public service employees
  • Energy-efficient Mortgage (EEM)
  • Fannie May/Freddie Mac programs, such as HomePath Ready Buyer

The only snag with these programs may be the lack of available homes in Washington DC. However, it can be worth searching to find out if there were any qualifying homes added recently. 

Just like when you sign a residential or commercial lease agreement, make sure you do your homework. If you’re eligible, some programs can be combined. This can be a great way to achieve your dream of owning your own DC home!

Find Your Perfect DC Home

Now you’re fully aware of the options available to a first time home buyer in DC, it’s time to start searching for your home!

DC has a lot of history and a varied housing stock. To navigate it successfully and find the right home for you, it’s good to have a helping hand. 

At Nomadic Real Estate, we’re here to give you all the help you need. We’re experts in the DC property market, covering everything from property management to sales and purchases. We can help you find your ideal DC home.

Contact us today to discuss your residential real estate needs.

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Enhanced Reporting

Your portal includes a selection of extremely useful reports. Reports are available in the “Reports” section, and are distinct from the financial statements. Unlike financial statements which are static records, Reports are dynamic real-time records that will update with current data every time you view them. 

Scroll down to learn more about Reports:

Navigate to the "Reports" module in your portal:

Owner Portal Reports
  • Keep in mind, these reports are dynamic records. They will refresh to display current information every time you view them. 

Enhanced Rent Roll Report:

Enhanced Rent Roll Report
  • The Enhanced Rent Roll Report will show the rent amount, last payment date, move-in date, lease expiration date, and security deposit amount for each of your tenants. 
  • It will also show a portfolio summary with occupancy percentage, vacancy loss, and more!

Unit Comparison Report:

Unit Comparison Report
  • If you own multiple units (or buildings) with Nomadic, you’ll get access to the Unit Comparison Report. 
  • This report enables you to quickly compare financial performance between your units at a glance without toggling between individual reports. 

Income Statement Month-Over-Month:

Income Statement by Month Report
  • The Income Statement Detail – Monthly Report serves as a month-over-month record of portfolio performance. You’ll see itemized income and expense categories and can track monthly. This report will update with fresh data every time you view it. 

Financial Statements

Financial statements will be published to your portal on a monthly basis. The statements are found in your Documents library, and provide a historical record of all financial performance. The statements serve as a snapshot of financial performance over a given period, and are static documents (unlike Reports, the statements do not update/change in real-time). 

Scroll down for more info about the Financial Statements in your Documents library:

The Documents area contains monthly financial statements:

Owner Portal Documents
  • The statements in the Documents are are static documents. They are posted to the portal once a month to serve as a historical record of financial performance. 

Download a statement to see month and YTD financials:

Owner Portal Property Statement

You'll also find a month-over-month operating statement:

Month over Month Statement

Portal Communication Tool

You can use your owner portal to communicate with our team. Any messages you send through the portal will go straight to your Account Manager. When we reply, you’ll get an email notification and you’ll also see the message in your portal next time you log in. 

Here’s an overview of using the communication platform:

Click "Communications" and navigate to "Conversations":

Commincation Dashboard Screenshot
  • The communications module will contain a record of all messages that you create through the portal. 

Click the "New Message" button and send your message:

Owner Portal New Message Screenshot

Responses will show up in the conversation ticket:

Portal Conversation Response Screenshot
  • You’ll get an email notification whenever you get a response, and you’ll also see the message in your portal next time you log in. 

You can reply in-line using the comment box:

Owner Portal Comment

Each conversation will be logged in its entirety:

Portal Conversation Snapshot

Understanding the Ledger

Your portal includes a ledger with all transactions. The ledger is populated with data in real-time as transactions flow through our accounting software. Much of this information is also available in the Reports area, as well as the Statements in your Documents library, but the ledger is the most comprehensive resource for diving into the details. 

Please scroll through the sections below to get a better understanding of how to interpret the ledger. 

By default, transactions are sorted chronologically:

Owner Ledger Dates
  • The date reflected in the lefthand column is the actual transaction date, not the “bill date”. This is the date the transaction was actually processed. 

If you have multiple properties with Nomadic, you'll see the address for each transaction in the "Location" column:

Ledger Property Column
  • You can filter the ledger to look at just one property, all properties, or specific sets of properties. 
  • If you only have one property with us, you’ll just see the ledger for that property. 

The Description column displays the transaction type:

Owner Ledger Description Column
  • BILL: this is an expense transaction, such as for repair costs or management fees.
  • CHARGE: this is a transaction  billed to the tenant, most typically a rent payment. 
  • NACHA EXPORT: this is a credit we processed to your distribution account. This type of transaction is how you get paid! 

The Amount column shows the dollar value of each transaction:

Owner Ledger Amount Column
  • Positive Amounts: if an amount is positive, it reflects a transaction that is payable to you. Typically, this will be a rent payment that we collected from your tenants. On occasion, a positive number could also signify a journal entry or credit adjustment. 
  • Negative Amounts:  if an amount is negative, this is a transaction that is either payable to Nomadic or is an amount that has already been paid to you. Typically this will be for repair costs or management/leasing fees. Owner draws (net distributions into your checking/savings account) also reflect as negative amounts, since they have already been paid to you. 

The Account Balance column shows a sum of positive/negative transactions at a given point in time:

Owner Ledger Account Balance Column
  • Account Balance should always equal zero after a net distribution has been processed. When the balance is zero, this means that all expenses have been paid and you’ve received the remainder as net operating income, leaving a balance of zero (meaning: no one is due any money, as all funds have been distributed appropriately). 

Navigating the Propertyware Owner Portal

Your portal includes some extremely useful features that help you understand your property’s financial performance at a new level, with real-time transparency into every transaction.

Scroll through the snapshots below for an overview of portal navigation! If you need more help or have specific questions about using the portal, you can reach out to your Account Manager any time for a screen share. 

You can filter all info by date range or property:

PW Portal Filters

View a snapshot of income and expenses on your dashboard:

PW Owner Dashboard View

See every transaction in real-time on your ledger:

Owner Portal Ledger View

Statements and forms will be posted to your documents library:

Owner Portal Document Library

View a suite of real-time financial reports:

Portal Reports View

See a running list of all bills, and drill down for more detail:

Owner Portal Bills View

Under Bill Details, you'll find dates/descriptions/amounts and more:

Portal Bill Details

You can also communicate with your Account Manager through the portal:

Owner Portal Communication Tools

How do net distributions work?

Net distributions keep your accounting clean and simple. Each month we’ll collect rent from the tenants, deduct any repair expenses for the previous month and any management/leasing fees for the current month, and credit the remaining net operating income to your account. 

Net Distribution

You’ll receive a statement via email each time a net distribution is processed, and can view all transaction details in your Propertyware owner portal.