Opportunity to Buy at a Discount in Capitol Riverfront

by Will Smith

Next Saturday, developer EYA will release 11 townhomes in Capitol Quarter for sale under a unique workforce financing program co-managed by the DC government. Capitol Quarter is a new townhome development in Capitol Riverfront, and this financing program could present a good opportunity for buyers interested in living in the young neighborhood.

Capitol Quarter

The program allows buyers to use $150,000 provided by the DC government as a second trust toward the purchase of one of the homes, effectively discounting the market-rate cost by that considerable amount. The second trust is essentially a zero-interest mortgage that must be paid back in full to the District when the home is sold or after 30 years. In the meantime, the mortgage requires no intermediate payments.

For example, one of the homes that will be released is called The Farragut. It’s a three-floor, two-bedroom townhome with one and a half bathrooms and a rear yard. The market price for The Farragut is $470,000 but through this program a buyer would acquire it for $320,000, with DC Housing Authority (DCHA) putting up the difference. The buyer would only need to get a mortgage for their $320,000 piece, not the full $470,000.

The 11 units due for release range in size from 1,100 to 1,300 square feet and all have either two or three bedrooms. EYA’s AJ Jackson told UrbanTurf that the differences between the workforce homes and the market-rate homes is only minor. “The differences are with the finishes and cosmetic features,” he explained. “The exterior features are all the same.” The homes are under construction now and will deliver next year.

There are restrictions for eligibility in the program but they’re far less onerous than those of other affordable housing programs in the area. The primary restriction is that a buyer’s household income fall between 80 and 115 percent of the Washington area’s median income — $82,800 to $119,025 in dollar terms. It doesn’t matter if the buyer is single or married; so long as the total household income falls within that range, the requirement is met. The home must also be owner occupied and a primary residence. Notably, the buyer does not have to be a current DC resident nor a first-time home buyer.

Also note that the home itself is not designated “workforce” in perpetuity, limiting the buyer to resell it only to other workforce buyers. Once the home is purchased, there are no future restrictions other than to pay the $150,000 back to DC. That also means that the buyer will enjoy 100 percent of any appreciation in the home’s value. (Contrast that to other programs in which the buyer can only keep a portion of the appreciation.)

To be certified as eligible, prospective buyers need to submit proof of income and other paperwork at the EYA sales office no later than this Sunday, March 20th. The following Saturday the 26th, EYA will hold a lottery to draw names from among the eligible applicants. EYA’s Jackson told UrbanTurf that the last lottery had about 60 applicants for 10 homes, so demand to participate in the program is typically strong. For all the information about the requirements and process, see 2011 Capitol Quarter Workforce Financing Program.

It is important to reiterate that these homes are not the same as the District’s more widely-known affordable housing units that are set aside in new condo projects. This is a one-of-a-kind program that was conceived by DCHA, EYA, HUD, and others as part of the master plan to redevelop the Capitol Riverfront into a mixed-income community. For the right buyer, this could be the opportunity to live in a new townhome in the city for $150,000 less than it would otherwise cost.

See other articles related to: workforce housing, eya, dclofts, capitol riverfront, capitol quarter

This article originally published at http://dc.urbanturf.com/articles/blog/opportunity_to_buy_at_a_discount_in_capitol_riverfront/3179


  1. Relax Preppy said at 8:09 am on Thursday March 17, 2011:

    How do these programs verify household income if you arent married and are the only one listed on the deed/mortgage? whats to prevent other people from moving in?

  1. Jason said at 8:23 am on Thursday March 17, 2011:

    Kinda sucks that this is called the “workforce financing program” and yet the average teacher, policeman, fireman, city government worker, federal government worker, architect, nurse, civil engineer (myself) etc… etc.. etc.. cant meet the minimum income requirements. Hopefully most of the opportunities will go to married couples/families of the afore mentioned.

  1. Plenty said at 8:24 am on Thursday March 17, 2011:

    Click on the link - you have to get cleared at the sales office prior. They will use W2’s to verify your income.

  1. john said at 9:08 am on Thursday March 17, 2011:

    It’s like they designed this program to guarantee it will get scammed.

  1. lars said at 9:26 am on Thursday March 17, 2011:

    This is a crazy program. We are subsidizing housing for people who make between $80,000 and $120,000 a year!? That is unbelievable.

    The worst part is that if you make $90,000 or over the mortgage on a $470,000 home ($2,625) won’t even be 35% of gross monthly income. And that isn’t even factoring in down payments. These people would qualify WITHOUT the program.

    This is some kind of strange lottery. I am really angered by this. Whose idea was it?

  1. Relax Preppy said at 9:58 am on Thursday March 17, 2011:


    I understand they check paystubs & w-2s but what is stopping a live in couple from qualifying and only reporting 1 income since they are not married?

  1. former Georgetowner said at 10:44 am on Thursday March 17, 2011:

    I applied for this program the last go around.. which was over a year and a half ago.  If I remember correctly, I barely squeaked into the income requirement.  I think they take your previous year’s income, and I think mine was $87K at the time.  FWIW, I am an engineer.

    That said, the program left a bad taste in my mouth.  I pre-applied and showed up at the lottery.  I think they had 10 houses for something like 25 people qualified for the lottery, so I had a good chance. I ended up leaving.

    If I remember correctly, there were two kinds of houses you could buy at the time, one priced at $350K and the other one priced at $450K.  You had to bring your W-2s, and I think you had to put down a sizeable down payment.  I don’t remember. You had to get financing from a specific bank.  Also, the house has to be your primary residence for at least 10 years.

    A few things I didn’t like about the program

    - the developer was late on delivering the previous set of houses.  I can’t remember exactly how late, I’d like to say at least a year. You had to put down a sizeable deposit (I wanna say between $15K-$20K) with no guarantee of when you would actually move in.  At the time, I think Lehman brothers had just collapsed, and I was a bit skeptical about builders.  Had the builder gone bankrupt, my money would have been gone.

    - They nickel and dimed you on everything.  You got the lowest quality of EVERYTHING, flooring, cabinets, appliances, etc.  In fact, they put in a washer/dryer hookup, but if you wanted them, you had to buy them yourself. 

    I won’t debate the merits of this program.  What I will say is that in DC with my income, I am solidly middle class, and this was the only way I could have afforded a house like this had I gone through with it.  That said, people who say I didn’t deserve this subsidy should shut the hell up.  The US and DC subsidizes so many people and so many groups, who sure as hell don’t deserve it and don’t need it.  How many generations of peope live in subsidized or nearly free housing for generations without paying a dime into the system?

    You go to Annapolis, and I kid you not - there are brick townhouses on riverfront right downtown that is free housing to lazy people.  Generations of families don’t work (at least officially) in order to keep this housing.  I find it outrageous.

    I’m not sure exactly how property taxes work in DC, but when I lived in downtown Annapolis.. there were so many people who bought historic houses a decade ago who were paying the same property tax I was paying even though my house was worth 1/10th theirs.  I wonder if it’s the same in DC.

    In any case, I pay a lot of my income in taxes and get very little back from the DC government.  I have no kids and won’t for a very long time.  The poorest people in DC live for free and put nothing into the system.  The very rich have their lawyers and accountants and etc who minimize their tax liability. 

    But in any case, it seemed to me at the time that the only people being subsidized was the builder.  But that was only my feeling.

  1. Relax Preppy said at 11:01 am on Thursday March 17, 2011:

    @former Georgetowner

    Thanks for your input, maybe ill just pay full price and not worry about my deposit and cheap finishes :o

  1. Will Smith said at 11:15 am on Thursday March 17, 2011:

    @former Georgetowner:

    Thanks very much for sharing your experience.

    I want to point out that some things about the program have been been tweaked since 2008. Specifically, you don’t have to get financing from a particular bank (see the rule link in the article), though there may be incentives to use EYA’s preferred lender.

    Also, I don’t believe you have to live in the house for ten years—or any minimum amount of time for that matter. In my conversations with the EYA rep, I asked if it would be possible, hypothetically, to buy a home under this program, then turn around and sell it “tomorrow”. They said yes.

    Just an FYI.

    (Note that UrbanTurf does not endorse this program one way or the other, and details like these should absolutely be verified by anyone thinking about participating.)

    Will Smith

  1. Vincent Hurteau said at 2:45 pm on Saturday March 19, 2011:

    If you live in DC and are facing huge cuts in your child’s school, or government program or potentially facing a tax increase because of the budget shortfalls, you should be extremely outraged by this program. 

    The Greater Washington Urban League already has a program that subsidizes the down payment, commonly known as HPAP, the Home Purchase Assistance Program that you can use all over the city.  Why is EYA, an out-of-state big corporate developer, benefitting from the one-of-a-kind program mentioned in the article?  Please contact your council member and demand they stop this corporate welfare to an out-of-state developer.

  1. MP said at 10:07 pm on Sunday March 20, 2011:

    @Vincent: I don’t think EYA is benefiting here.  They dont have any problem selling the non workforce homes that are not that different (a little bit bigger)for a good amount more.  If I had to guess (which is what I am doing), the city probably imposed the workforce thing on EYA to try to bring a balanced set of incomes to the area and based on the grant from HUD, the federal govt probably had some play in it:

    “In 2001, DC received a $34.9 million Hope VI grant to redevelop the 23-acre Capper/Carrollsburg public housing project as a mixed-income community, with the 700 public housing units are being replaced one-for-one, along with 1,200 market-rate and workforce-rate rental and ownership units and 50 Section 8 ownership units. There will also be 700,000 sq ft of office space at 250 M Street and 600 M Street and 50,000 sq ft of retail space. Construction started on the first phase of townhouses in June 2008 and was completed in the summer of 2010. Reservations began being accepted for the second phase units in June, 2010.” (http://www.jdland.com/dc/capper.cfm)

    Now all that doesn’t mean it’s a good use of tax payer money, but I dont think this is DC pandering to EYA.

  1. EYA Homeowner said at 6:28 pm on Tuesday March 22, 2011:

    I live in an EYA house and am fairly familiar with the program.  The City is enabling a “moderate” income workforce buyer to purchase a 3-bedroom, new construction home for $320,000-$350,000 with this program.  Frankly, I don’t know of anywhere in the City where a family can purchase a new, low-maintenance townhome for this price.  So to say the program is not priced properly is short-sighted at the goal.
    Considering EYA builds in Arlington, Potomac and Capitol Hill, they dont need this “one of a kind benefit” to make money. The benefit is solely to the District’s working families. Where else in the city can a firefighter and teacher buy a new home for that price? (NOT a condo) Also, since we are talking about “facts” EYA is not a “big corporate developer”.  Yes, their Bethesda headquarters are technically in Maryland, and last I checked, that’s still “inside the beltway”. They’ve been around for 20ish years, and have ONLY built in the DC Area.

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