How I Got $70K for My First Home

by Mark Wellborn


Many people have heard about the Home Purchase Assistance Program (HPAP), but few of us know someone who has actually taken advantage of it to buy a house. UrbanTurf recently spoke with Andy Serfass who jumped at the opportunity last summer to get just under $70,000 from the program to put toward the down payment on a two-bedroom home in Northeast.

HPAP is a DC initiative that gives up to $40,000 in financial assistance to low and moderate-income individuals to purchase single-family homes, condominiums and apartments. The assistance comes in the form of a no-interest 40-year loan (with no payments for the first five years). The dollar amount used to max out at $70,000, but effective January 16, 2009 that number was lowered by $30,000.

Andy, a native Washingtonian who works for the Department of the Navy, applied for the program back in August 2008. After he was accepted, he was required to attend a four-hour class that served as an introduction to the program and then another one-day class that covered the process, certain program restrictions and even a tutorial on home maintenance.

“They try really hard to make sure that you don’t walk into a house that is falling apart or one that you don’t know how to repair,” Andy said. “They want it to be in as good shape as possible.”

About a month and a half later, Andy put an offer (in the mid-$200s) on a two-bedroom, 1,600 square-foot house near 7th Street and Florida Avenue NE. The house is about five blocks from the New York Avenue Metro stop on the Red Line, and has a large first floor that is split between the kitchen and living room.

Once the offer was finalized, Andy said the inspections started. HPAP requires the homeowner to get an inspector to come out and look at the house. Once that analysis is complete, the owner must fix all the problems that were found. Finally, HPAP sends out its own inspector, and a second inspection is done.

“Luckily, I didn’t have a very long list of things that needed to be fixed,” Andy told UrbanTurf. “The major thing was the gas line to the furnace had a small leak, and there were a few outlets that weren’t grounded properly.”

However, that was a small bump in the road compared to what came next. In January, HPAP’s budget was cut, and Serfass had yet to get one dollar.

“All it took was about a month for me to qualify for a little bit less than $70,000,” he said. “But then the budget was cut, and I was promised funds that HPAP didn’t have in their account, so I wasn’t sure I was ever going to get the money.”

Serfass had to wait for a “tense” three weeks before he finally got word that he would receive the money. He stressed that you need to be a very patient person to deal with the headaches along the way.

“This is not the program you start once you find your dream house,” he said. “Once you know that you can use the program, go through the process of applying and getting accepted. Then look for the property you want to buy.”

That said, Serfass would go through the whole process again because the deal is just too good to pass up.

For our other article covering HPAP, click here.

See other articles related to: dclofts

This article originally published at http://dc.urbanturf.com/articles/blog/how_i_got_70k_for_my_first_home/677


  1. Jason said at 8:55 am on Wednesday March 18, 2009:

    This makes me puke. People who can’t afford to save for downpayments should be renting not owning. Relaxed credit standards, 100% Financing , etc is what has put the economy in the tank. Anyone who doesn’t have ATLEAST 5% to put down on a place is 1) not contributing enough collateral on their loan and 2) has not demonstrated credit worthiness IMO.

  1. pam said at 10:51 am on Monday March 23, 2009:

    Wow what an attitude. It seems you are implying that unless you can come up with the money for a downpayment on your own you are not responsible? I guess a working mother of two supporting her children on a teachers salary doesn’t deserve this money…? There are a lot of financially responsible people out there that just have a hard time scraping together enough for a downpayment.

  1. Andy said at 7:38 pm on Thursday April 9, 2009:

    Don’t let the current economic troubles sway your view of this program.  This program has been around a long time before the current housing problems started and that has resulted in a lot of people successfully becoming home owners.

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