I touched on the new City of Fort Collins affordable housing program in a blog post (New Program For Ft Collins Prospective Homebuyers) last week, and wanted to follow up with a more in-depth article. MetroDPA (down payment assistance) has been serving the Denver area since 2018, and has been adopted by both Fort Collins and Loveland just in the last few weeks. Other northern Colorado towns like Berthoud, Evans, Longmont, Greeley, Erie, Firestone, and Boulder have also signed on.
Northern Colorado, and the entire Front Range of Colorado for that matter, have seen property values soar over the last few years. For February 2021, average sale prices for Larimer County single detached homes, as reported by the Colorado Association of REALTORS®, came in at $521K (a 10.6% jump from 12 months earlier). For condos and townhomes, the average was $385K, up 8.8% from a year ago. Extremely low inventory due to covid (329 single detached homes were for sale in February 2021 versus 938 in February 2020) and record low interest rates (last month's 2.6-2.75% rates have inched up into the low 3% area now) are the main drivers.
Our city has seen a lively debate about affordable housing as of late, taking center stage in the upcoming elections for city mayor and city council. Jeni Arndt, one of three candidates for mayor, rightfully made the argument in a recent Coloradoan newspaper interview that housing is directly connected to the health of a community.
As I discussed in the Part 1 article, Fort Collins has done a great job with its more than 50 affordable housing projects spread throughout the city. The Land Bank, private activity bonds, and developer incentives have all contributed, and just about everybody in town knows of someone who has a success story to tell. Demand has outstripped supply, however, and the city of Fort Collins pronounced a few weeks ago that opening up metroDPA city-wide is a 'fast-track' approach, as opposed to waiting for the years' long buildout of physical housing.
MetroDPA-How Does It Work?
Taken directly from the website, "The metroDPA Program offers a 30-year, fixed rate first mortgage AND down payment and closing
cost assistance. The assistance is in the form of a 0% interest, 3-year deferred forgivable second mortgage. Over the first 3 years (36 months) of ownership, the assistance is forgiven 1/36th each month. After the 3rd anniversary (36 months) of closing you will not owe any portion of the assistance you received."
"The amount of assistance a borrower may receive is between 3% - 6% and based upon the loan product (FHA, VA, Rural Development or Freddie Mac). As an example, if a borrower was to purchase a home and their loan amount was $300,000, if they use the FHA loan product and receive
5% of down payment and closing cost assistance, the borrower would receive $15,000 to be used as down payment and closing cost assistance."
"The assistance may be used for the down payment required by FHA, Freddie Mac, Fannie Mae, Rural Development and VA loans. The assistance may also be used for customary closing costs.The Assistance cannot be used for covering the cost difference between the sales price and appraised value, to payoff of any borrower’s debt, or pay for any portion of the realtor commission or fees."
Unlike CHFA loans that require lower income thresholds, metroDPA's income limit for Fort Collins is $150K, period. Whether you are a single woman or a married couple with six children, the income limit is still $150K.
FICO credit scores must be at least 640, with better rates for those above 680. Just like with a regular lender, buyers must qualify. Debt to income ratios of 45% apply, and steady income for the last two years is imperative. US Bank and Lakeview Loan Servicing are lending partners, and roughly 105 approved lenders throughout the state of Colorado can assist buyers with the process.
A credit-housing counseling class is mandatory, and two local organizations, Greenpath Financial Wellness and Neighbor to Neighbor, provide free classes.
Home purchases must be in an approved city or unincorporated part of a county. All of the towns mentioned earlier would qualify. As well, Larimer County has signed on, so a property that is in the county but outside the city limits of say, Wellington, Laporte, or Bellvue, would also qualify. A property with a Wellington address qualifies, as long as it is not within city limits. A property within Wellington city limits, though, would not qualify.
These are 30 year conventional, FHA, or VA loans, which is essential in this market. Sellers are choosing between eight to twelve offers in a sale, and they will not choose a buyer with an overly complicated lending situation.
Plenty of local lenders, again an added bonus when presenting an offer to shell-shocked sellers, can work with homebuyers.
No purchase price limits!
No risk or cost for local municipalities!
Housing affordability is instantly expanded in local communities.
Those with good credit but with little cash on hand, are rewarded.
30 day closes are attainable, with some planning up front.
No first time homebuyer requirement.
Brochures available in English and Spanish.
Interest rates are market competitive.
Lenders can only charge a maximum of 1% origination fee (most will charge an origination fee anyway) with a few smaller fees of $400 and $275 thrown in. Very low fees, in general.
Not all lenders are approved.
Not all communities have adopted the program yet, so Severance, Timnath, Windsor, Wellington, Eaton, Johnstown, and others are still out.
Must be a primary residence.
Any default of mortgage payments within the first three years will throw a wrench into the mix.
Can be confused with lease to own schemes that can charge prohibitively expensive fees.
Please feel free to reach out to me to discuss your move into or out of Northern Colorado. Thank you!
James Sack, REALTOR®
Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage
1109 Oak Park Drive | Fort Collins, CO 80525
C: (970) 217-9705 | O: (970) 223-6500 | E: James.Sack@coloradohomes.com | W: www.JamesSack.com