There’s really no way around saying it: real estate in Boulder, CO comes at a premium. If you are in a low to moderate income bracket and have dreams of buying a home in Boulder, you might be feeling discouraged after doing some simple property searches. However, we’re here to let you know that not all is lost — Boulder has its own Affordable Housing program, and it’s one of the best-kept secrets beneath the Flatirons.
What is the Boulder County Affordable Housing Program?
The easiest way to explain the Affordable Housing Program in Boulder is this: it’s a collection of home ownership programs that ensure that people of all income levels can potentially buy a home in Boulder. These affordable housing programs take many shapes, from homes that are designated as “permanently affordable” to downpayment assistance programs that can be used on full market rate homes.
Let’s first take a look at who qualifies for Boulder’s Affordable Housing program, also known as Homeworks.
Who Qualifies for Boulder’s Affordable Housing Program?
Income limits are established on an annual basis and all applicants to the affordable housing programs must fall within the following income guidelines:
General income limits for new construction/resale & downpayment assistance programs
1 person $51,520
2 people $58,880
3 persons $66,250
4 persons $73,560
These rates are from the program and can be reviewed on the program’s website here.
Income limits for housing designated as “middle income eligible”
1 person $75,320
2 people $85,990
3 persons $96,780
4 persons $107,460
Once you determine whether or not you meet these income guidelines, you can review the additional requirements to see if you qualify to apply for the program. Let’s now have a look at the difference between Boulder’s permanently affordable housing options and their downpayment assistance programs.
What is Boulder Permanently Affordable Housing?
Real estate developers contract with the city to build properties that will forever remain “permanently affordable”. This means that should you buy a permanently affordable property, there are a few things you should know:
- Resale is restricted: you can only sell your home to a buyer who is qualified under the Boulder affordable housing program.
- Appreciation is capped: the maximum annual appreciation you’ll enjoy is 3.5% per year
- Plan to stay: if you buy a permanently affordable home, you should plan to stay in it at least 2 years in order to qualify to move to another permanently affordable home. Exceptions are made if your family size changes.
- You must occupy the home: don’t even think about swindling the system — permanently affordable homes must be owner-occupied (you can have a roommate, however).
- A rental property is a long way out: you must occupy the home for a minimum of 5 years before you are eligible to rent it out.
Now, let’s learn about Boulder’s downpayment assistance programs.
Downpayment Assistance Programs
So long as you qualify for Boulder’s Affordable Housing Program, you could pursue one of their downpayment assistance programs.
The H2O program is a deferred loan for up to 15% of a full market rate property’s purchase price. There are no payments on the loan during this time but the loan must be refinanced at maturity or paid off through sale of the property. You can learn more about the H2O Program here. This is a good option if you feel you can find a market rate property and want to enjoy more potential appreciation than the permanently affordable homes allow.
The other downpayment assistance program is called the 3% Solution. You must use these grant funds to purchase a home that is classified as permanently affordable. Funds are typically used to bridge the gap between your own funds and those needed to pay downpayment and/or closing costs. The grant remains invested in the property and the housing program recoups its grant when you sell your home.
Note that the H2O Program is the only part of Boulder’s Affordable Housing Program that allows homebuyers to purchase a full market rate property and enjoy unlimited property appreciation.
Other Qualifications for These Homeownership Programs
All program applicants must take a homeowner’s course. Details can be found on the City of Boulder website.
How Can I Get More Information on Boulder’s Affordable Housing Program?
That’s easy — just pop over to the City’s website and start your reading. There are even online application forms, phone numbers and everything else you might need to see if the City’s affordable housing program is right for you and your family.