Even though you ask very good straightforward questions, I feel there's more going on here that might be at the root of your difficulty in finding what you want. How soon do you intend to retire? Are you aware that back when interst rates were 6%, every $10,000 rise in price was $50 in the monthly payment? I believe you're reducing your target price by $60,000 or $300 per month and rates are even lower now. This is a tax deductible event so you will be getting some of that payment back. I certainly understand you don't want to stretch beyond your comfort zone and home ownership isn't free, there is maintenance, etc. I feel you might benefit from sitting down with an advisor as to how owning a home would fit into your lifestyle.
You ask about down payment assistance and there are several programs that will help. If you haven't used HPAP in DC please give them a call. They require attendance at class for home buyers. Perhaps that will help you in strategic planning.
FHA requires a 3.5% commitment from purchases, even with down payment assistance. I have a client closing on his first home this month with a $20,000 down payment grant from Manna, through his lender. The Manna grant has income restrictions, but for every year you live in the property $5,000 is forgiven. So long as you live in the property for five years, you would not have to pay back that grant. That's FREE money.
Also, DC still has a first-time homebuyer tax credit of up to $5,000. The amount of the credit is based on the sales price of the home.
There are currently 28 properties in DC that are listed at $110,000 or less that are not short sales or distressed properties, and all but five are under $100,000. Several of these are houses that are being sold as-is for cash only and would not qualify for FHA loans, but a lot of them are condos or co-ops.
Co-ops can be a great buy, depending on your situation. A lot of co-ops have income restrictions, meaning either a minimum income or a maximum income to qualify to purchase. Also, you would have to be approved by the co-op board to buy into one, but that is typically an interview process. The difference between co-ops and condos is that, with a co-op, you do not actually own the unit but become a partner in owning the building itself, with rights to live in the unit being sold. Therefore you don't have an annual property tax and, a lot of times utilities and parking are included in the co-op fee. The fee tends to be higher than condos, but that's because the property tax is part of the fee as you are an owner in the building and there may be an underlying mortgage being paid off for the building. But that differs from building to building.
Your best bet to find local down payment assistance programs is to speak with your Mortgage Banker that Prequalified you. If there are programs in your locality for which you might qualify, your Mortgage Banker will be aware of these.
I did a quick Google Search and came across this article from last year about a new program launched to assist First Time Buyers: http://www.nbcwashington.com/news/local/Down-Payment-Assista
Also check http://www.MannaDC.org which appears to be a non-profit that assists Homebuyers.
Everything is negotiable. If FHA you need at least 3%, of not roughly 20%, If rural farmland nothing (USDA) loan! You can negotiate this with the seller on the purchase contract. Some cities have programs to help with first time home buyers. Make your agent work for you, that's why we get paid for!
Happy House Hunting!
Vincent Warren Paige, Jr.
REALTORÂ® | RE/MAX Showcase
Certified Broker Price Opinion Registered Agent (BPOR)
8934 Conroy Windermere Road | Orlando, FL 32835
Direct: 407.256.8190 | Fax: 407.264.8073