First-Time Homebuyers Program
Fairfax County’s First-Time Homebuyers Program (FTHB) offers affordably priced townhomes and condominiums – both new and resale – to first-time homebuyers.
The FTHB Program is a component of the Affordable Dwelling Unit Program (ADU) and has been providing opportunities to low- moderate-income households since 1992. Homes are offered at sale prices well below the sale price of other homes in the same development. The homes are sold directly by area builders or current owners and range from $70,000- $160,000 in price, depending on the type and size of the home. These townhomes and condominiums are located throughout Fairfax County within many communities that offer amenities such as swimming pools, tennis courts, jogging trails and tot lots.
First-Time Homebuyer units are provided under provisions of Fairfax County’s Affordable Dwelling Unit Ordinance. Based on provisions of the ordinance, the Fairfax County Redevelopment and Housing Authority has the right to purchase up to one-third of new affordable units offered by a developer. These units are then rented by the FCRHA to qualified households.
Am I Eligible?
To qualify for the First-Time Homebuyers Program Eligibility List and be issued a Certificate of Eligibility, you must meet the following criteria:
- First-Time Homebuyer – individuals who have not owned a home in three years
- Households with at least $25,000 in income
- Households with income below the income limits shown below:
First-Time Homebuyers Program
Maximum Income at Initial Eligibility
* The 70% MSA income limit is set by Zoning Ordinance (ADU provisions). Maximum Income limits are adjusted for household size using the HUD methodology, and are rounded to the nearest $50.
- Be able to obtain a conditional approval letter for a mortgage (and ultimately obtain a mortgage if you are offered a home to purchase)
- Credit Score of 640 or higher for each adult family member on the deed and loan
- No Bankruptcy (at a minimum, it must have been at least two years since discharge of a bankruptcy)
- No Foreclosure (eligible applicants shall have NO previous foreclosures)
- No Collections and Judgments (all judgments & collections must be paid in full)
- No Co-Signers (no co-signers permitted. each applicant must qualify on merit)
- No Late Payments (a minimum of six months with no late payments)
- Income/Debt Ratio 35/41 (total housing expenses cannot exceed 35% of your income, and total expenses including debt cannot exceed 41% of your income)
- Down Payment 3% (At least 3% of purchase price required as down payment)
- Closing Costs 3-5% (First-Time Homebuyer must provide closing costs of 3-5% of the purchase price)
- Reserves: 1-Month (Purchasers are required to have at least one month of the amount of their monthly expenditures in reserve)
How Do I Apply?
To be placed on the First-Time Homebuyers Program Eligibility List and receive a Certificate of Eligibility, you must complete the four step application process.
- Attend an First-Time Homebuyers Orientation. Schedule of upcoming First-Time Homebuyers Orientations.
- Attend an homeownership education class. Schedule of upcoming VHDA classes.
- Meet with a lender to get a conditional loan approval.
- Attend a group Application Session.
For additional information on the First-Time Homebuyers Program, please call 703-246-5087 during customer service hours of 1:00 to 4:00 pm, Monday through Friday, or visit our Homeownership Storefront located at 3700 Pender Drive, Fairfax, Virginia, between 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday, and between 1:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m. on Wednesday.
How Do I Get Into the Drawing to Buy a Home?
You MUST follow these steps for resale homes:
Check the web site - www.fairfaxcounty.gov/homebuyer:
The properties available for purchase are listed on our website and in
our phone listing. Important: Each listing will include a
reminder that you must attend the open house in order to enter a
drawing. The location and time of the open house will be
provided in the listing.
Decide if this house fits your needs and your budget: Is the
home near schools you want your children to attend? Is it near your
job? Is it near public transportation – bus? Metro? Drive by
the unit to determine if you are interested but please do not
disturb the owner. Evaluate the expenses to determine if you
can afford this unit with principle, interest, taxes, condo fees,
Attend the Open House. If you are interested in the unit, you
must attend the open house. If you cannot make the open
house, please send someone in your family to view the house for
you. You or your representative must bring a copy of your
current certificate to the open house. This will be your
ticket to admission and it must show the correct household size and a
purchase limit required to purchase the home.
Parking may be limited. In some instances, parking in close
proximity to the unit may be limited. We will try to advise you in
listings where nearby available parking is located. We suggest that
participants with 8-9 points attend during the first hour of the open
house, those with 6-7 points attend during the second hour and those
with 5 or fewer points attend during the third hour of the open
house. You are not restricted to those times, but adhering to this
schedule should make finding convenient parking more likely.
Bring your certificate to the Open House. Staff at the open
house will take the certificate numbers of those attendees who qualify
and are interested in purchasing the home. A drawing will be conducted
using this list of interested participants. Failure to provide
your certificate at the open house will mean that you will not be
included in the drawing.
- Check the website. You will be notified of the results of the drawing on our website: www.fairfaxcounty.gov/homebuyer approximately five business days after the open house. You must supply the documentation required to verify your eligibility to purchase the home within two business days following notification of your status as a potential winner. When you are contacted, you must have a $1,000 deposit ready for contract signing which will normally take place within a week of so after the drawing is run.
Financing: Each listing will estimate the funds needed to purchase the unit. Please remember that due to current market conditions, 100% financing is no longer available. Currently (July 2010), there are no SPARC funds available. VHDA is redesigning the SPARC program and DHCD anticipates another allocation of SPARC but not prior to January 2011. Lenders may be able to access down payment and closing costs funds for you but they may require matching funds from your savings.
If there are any questions, please call our office at 703-246-5087 between 1– 4:p.m. daily and staff will be available to answer your questions. You may also visit our Homeownership Resource Center at 3700 Pender Drive Fairfax, Virginia 22030 between 9 a.m.– 4 p.m. Monday through Friday, except Wednesdays. On Wednesdays, our office is open from 1-4 p.m.
How Does The First-Time Homebuyers Program Work?
Townhouses and condominiums are sold through the First-Time Homebuyers (FTHB) Program to qualified applicants who are on the First-Time Homebuyers Program Eligibility List. Homes that are for sale through the FTHB Program, whether new or re-sale houses, have controls on them for 30 years. These controls are in the form of a restrictive covenant that states the owner must:
- Occupy the home; no renting is allowed
- Refinance restrictions apply
- Sell the home at a controlled resale price through the First-Time Homebuyers Program to certified program applicants during the 30-year control period
- Split the profit with the Fairfax County Housing Trust Fund, if you sell your home after the 30-year initial control period.
Owners are responsible for all home maintenance, home improvements and compliance with homeowner or condominium rules and regulations. For new homes, the builder is responsible for all warranty items.
When homes become available for sale, they are sold through a selection process called a Drawing. Formerly called the ‘Lottery;’ a Drawing is the term used to describe the process of selecting who on our FTHB eligibility list is chosen to buy an available home.
The Drawing is NOT a purely random selection.
The drawing process itself consists of two parts.
The first part is the screening. This limits who may apply for a given condominium or townhouse. To be eligible for a given drawing (which is different from being eligible for the First-Time Homebuyers Program), an applicant must (a) be pre-approved for a mortgage loan equal to or greater than the sales price of the home; and (b) have a household size appropriate for the unit. In addition, for homes offered in senior or adult communities, a household must have at least one household member age 55 or older AND no household members age 18 or younger.
The screening does not affect the randomness of a drawing; it simply eliminates those who are either unable to purchase a given unit or whose household size is not appropriate for the unit.
The second part of the drawing process uses priority points. These are “preferences?? given to households that meet specific conditions, such as living or working in Fairfax County or being in the program for one or more years. The maximum number of priority points that a household can have is nine (9). Points are assigned for meeting the following criteria:
- Living or working in Fairfax County – 5 points
- Having one or more dependent children under the age of 18 or disabled dependents in household– 1 point
- For every year (up to 3 years) on the First-Time Homebuyers Eligible Homebuyers List – 1 point per year
The priority points work by promoting a household toward the top of the Drawing List. In a given drawing, all households with 9 priority points would be moved to the top of the list, followed by all households with 8 priority points, etc. While all of the households within a “priority group?? have the same chance of being ranked first through a random selection process, households with more priority points always win a drawing.
Homes that are offered with accessibility features are the only exception. Households having one or more persons with a physician-certified handicap or physical disability limiting mobility are given a “mobility?? priority. Households with the mobility priority are promoted to the top of the list regardless of their number of priority points. If multiple households with the mobility priority apply for the same unit, priority points are considered within the group of mobility priority households followed by the households without the mobility priority. To claim a mobility priority, a completed physician signed First-Time Homebuyers Program Accessibility Preference Form (PDF) must be submitted.
Once the drawing takes place a list of ranked applicants is generated, the top five ranked households will be notified by First-Time Homebuyers Program staff to re-verify household income and view the house. The entire drawing list will also be listed on the First-Time Homebuyers Program webpage. The household ranked first has the first opportunity to purchase the home. If they refuse, the household ranked second has the opportunity to purchase, followed by the household ranked third, etc. Refusing to purchase a home DOES NOT in anyway penalize a household in future drawings.
Fairfax County is committed to nondiscrimination on the basis of disability in all County programs, services and activities. Special accommodations will be provided upon request. Please allow seven working days for preparation of materials. For information call 703-246-5101 or 703-385-3578 (TTY).