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  • Writer's pictureFCRHA

First-Time Homebuyers Getting Settled Safely At Home During COVID-19

The guidance from local, state and federal health officials during the COVID-19 pandemic has been that individuals and families are “safer at home.” Fairfax County’s Homeownership Team has taken that to heart and, despite the necessary restrictions to slow the spread of COVID-19, they have not slowed down when it comes to helping qualified homebuyers purchase new, affordable homes during this critical time. Since late-March, the FCRHA’s First-Time Homebuyers Program has assisted 15 households in purchasing a new home.

“The success we have experienced over the last 10 weeks is reflective not only of our staff’s ability to be responsive to the conditions that we are faced with, but also of the commitment and partnership of homeowners within the program. As we have over the course of nearly thirty years of providing safe, affordable, high-quality purchase opportunities for first-time homebuyers, we continue to find new, creative and innovative means to continue to match prospective homeowners with available homes at a record pace.” Carol Erhard Director, Homeownership and Relocation Services Fairfax County Department of Housing and Community Development

In order to continue selling homes, Homeownership staff have worked to find new and safe ways of performing essential tasks while remaining in compliance with the most current health guidelines. Some of these tasks include conducting home inspections; necessary maintenance and repair work; carefully scheduling and conducting in-person home tours that maintain social distancing; conducting contract signings and closings; obtaining records and even alternative means of providing regular customer services.

Socially Distant Real Estate Closing. The First-Time Homebuyer program is working with lenders, title companies, inspectors and a host of other partners to ensure that prospective homeowners can achieve their homeownership dreams safely during the COVID-19 pandemic. FIRST-TIME HOMEBUYERS HOUSING UNIT PIPELINE Fairfax County’s First-Time Homebuyers Program acquires affordable homes primarily through inclusionary zoning (by means of the county’s Affordable Dwelling Unit (ADU) Program and the Workforce Dwelling Unit (WDU) Policy). These programs require builders of large-scale housing developments to provide a certain percentage of units in their development at below-market prices to qualified homebuyers with low- to moderate-incomes. Some additional units are made available as existing program units are resold back to the county by participating homeowners before the debt is fully paid and the property’s affordability period is complete.

“Homeownership continues to be out of reach for many low- and moderate-income families in Fairfax County.  However, the county’s inclusionary zoning programs are producing a significant stock of brand new affordable for-sale units to be delivered to the First-Time Homebuyers Program. Many of these homes are part of newly-constructed developments with high-quality amenities, located near major activity centers and public transportation and offer extraordinary opportunities for homeowners who otherwise would not be able to afford to purchase a home in these areas.” Tom Fleetwood Director Fairfax County Department of Housing and Community Development

While some expected projects have experienced delays as a result of the COVID-19 Pandemic, the county maintains a pipeline of expected for sale ADUs and WDUs. Barring any project delays, the county is projecting to receive over 100 units to the First-Time Homebuyers Program during the next 12 months. PROGRAM DETAILS Carol Erhard, from the Fairfax County First-Time Homebuyers Program joined with representatives from jurisdictions throughout the region at the "First Time Buying Programs" workshop hosted by the 2020 Northern Virginia Housing Expo. See the complete presentation below.

For a complete description of program details, qualifications and income requirements, visit our Homebuyers website. STEP ONE: FIRST-TIME HOMEBUYERS ORIENTATION The First-Time Homebuyers Program Orientation is an introduction to the full inventory of homebuyer programs offered by Fairfax County. The next scheduled orientation is set for July 6; however, due to the expected limitations on large-group meetings, staff are working to provide this orientation in a virtual format. Staff are also looking at the potential for advancing the orientation to an earlier date. Please visit the First-Time Homebuyers Program Orientation Website. Details for the upcoming session will be posted as soon as they are finalized.

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