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The Pursuit: A Home For 50% Off

  • July 2, 2013

by Shilpi Paul

The Pursuit: A Home For 50% Off: Figure 1
Christina Brown and her daughter.

Christina Brown had been growing frustrated by her housing search.

The DC public school teacher was eager to move out of her Columbia Heights one-bedroom and into a house that had a yard for her 20-month old daughter. However, like many people in today’s market, Brown found that her options on a single salary were limited in DC’s current housing market.

“With prices so high, I wasn’t really finding the home that I wanted,” Brown told UrbanTurf.

So, Brown started looking for help. This spring, she applied for down payment assistance through the city’s Housing Purchase Assistance Program (HPAP) and, while looking through the paperwork, noticed an insert: an application and information for a lottery being held by DC’s Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD). DHCD was selecting two entrants to purchase a newly renovated home in the city at 50 percent of the appraised value. Not thinking too much about her chances, Brown sent in the application and got back to her search.

The Pursuit: A Home For 50% Off: Figure 2
Christina Brown’s new home.

The lottery was not for all homebuyers. Entrants needed to be families of two or more who are first-time buyers in DC, and make less than 50 percent of the area median income. They also needed to obtain a lender’s pre-approval letter for 50 percent of the appraised value of the house (in this case $190,000).

On June 1st, Brown was invited to the attend the drawing. She wavered on going, deciding only at the last minute to make the trip.

At the event, hundreds of entrant names were tossed into a golden barrel, which was then spun around. Mayor Gray was on hand to pick the first winner. It was Brown.

“He pulled my name, and pandemonium broke loose,” she remembers. In shock, Brown fell to the ground for a few minutes, until another audience member pulled her off the floor. She then picked up her daughter and made her way to the stage.

“I walked up to Mayor Gray and he gave me this big plastic key, and said ‘Do you want to say anything?’” recalls Brown. “I shook my head and cried on his shoulder for five minutes.”

The Pursuit: A Home For 50% Off: Figure 3
The living room of the new home.

The home that Brown won is a three-bedroom rowhouse in Eckington. Newly renovated, the home has a front porch, a parking pad in the back and most importantly to Brown, a yard. In addition to three bedrooms, the home also has a sunroom, living room, dining room, and a basement that has been hooked up with plumbing for a potential renovation.

At the full appraised price (almost $400,000), the home would have been out of Brown’s price range, but at 50 percent off, it is well within her budget. Now that the shock has worn off, Brown is in the process of applying for a mortgage and reading into the details of the sale. (The financing works just like the purchase of any other home.)

“I’m still kind of thinking ‘Is this too good to be true?’” she admitted.

There is one condition with the sale: Brown must live in the home, as her primary residence, for at least 10 years. That fits in with her plans, though; she sees her daughter growing up in their new place for years to come.

“She needs that space to be able to run through the house, and run outside,” believes Brown. “It’s an extreme relief.”

Photos courtesy of Mouse on House.

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This article originally published at http://dc.urbanturf.com/articles/blog/the_pursuit_a_helping_hand_from_the_city/7257

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