Q: What are the listings on MyMassHome?
A: MyMassHome has listings of subsidized affordable and accessible homes for purchase. Many of these homes are not advertised through traditional real estate websites. MyMassHome does not list traditional market rate homes.
Q: What is an "affordable" home?
A: They are homes specifically for qualified low- and moderate-income first time homebuyers that are sold below market-rates. There are many different state and local programs that create "affordable" homes for people to buy, including Chapter 40B, the CommonWealth Builder Program, and the Local Initiative Program (LIP). They can be sold as new units by the developer or as “resales” by people who own one of the homes and now want to sell it. Some developments are “age-restricted” to those age 55 and over. These home are in urban, suburban, and rural communities across the state and can be single family homes, townhouses, or condos.
Q: How are affordable homes different than market-rate homes?
A: You own an affordable home, just like any other homeowner. In exchange for being able to purchase a home at a below-market price, there are a few restrictions you must follow. For instance, you must get permission to refinance your mortgage or make large capital improvements to your home. Most importantly, when you sell your home, it must be sold to another income-eligible first time homebuyer at a below-market “affordable” price. You may still build equity in the property are entitled to that equity when you sell, but there may be limits on how fast or how much equity you build. There is a "monitoring agent" for every affordable home who assists you in complying with these restrictions.
Q: How do I know if I qualify?
A: The eligibility requirements may be different for each opportunity, so you should check each application for details, but in general, you must:
- Have an income below certain limits, most often 80% of the Area Median Income
- Have less than $75,000 in assets or $275,000 for age-restricted developments
- Be a first-time homebuyer (with some exceptions)
- Agree to a deed restriction which contains certain responsibilities you will have as an affordable home owner
- Live in the home as your principal residence
But check the application for each property - the income or asset limits may be higher or lower!
Q: What are the income limits?
A: Income limits vary by region and family size. The application for the property you are interested in will include the income limits specific to the city or town where it is located. To find the specific income limit for your area, you can go to the HUD website where they are updated annually. The income limits only apply at the time of application. After you purchase, your income can increase beyond the income limit without penalty.
Q: What about asset limits?
A: For most homes, an individual or family can have no more than $75,000 in assets at the time of application. If the household is applying for an age-restricted development (55+), they can have up to $275,000 in combined assets, including both liquid assets and equity from a property being sold. Retirement assets are counted, but only the “cash value” of the retirement asset is counted toward the limit, meaning any taxes or penalties paid if a withdrawal were made are factored in. Any funds used toward the down payment on the property also count toward the asset limit. However, any funds received from a municipal, state, or federal down payment assistance program do not count as an asset.
Q: What if I used to own a home?
A: For non-age-restricted units, you must be a first-time homebuyer. This means you have had no ownership interest in your principal residence during the past 3 years OR you are a displaced homemaker, single parent who has only owned a home with a former spouse while married, or owned a mobile home. For age-restricted units, you must sell your current home and live in the one you purchase as your principal residence. Any equity or proceeds from that sale count toward the asset limit.
Q: How do I apply?
A: To purchase an affordable home, contact the monitoring or lottery agent in charge of coordinating the sale of the property. You will have to complete an application and provide documentation to show that you are eligible, including a pre-approval from a mortgage lender.
Q: Do I need to use any particular lender or is there are specific loan I need to get for an affordable home?
A: No. However, we recommend you check out the affordable loan products for first time homebuyers through MHP or MassHousing. We also recommend letter your lender know upfront that you are applying for a deed restricted affordable home, so that your lender can ensure your loan will be compatible with the deed restrictions.
Q: Where can I find listings of these affordable homes?
You can find them right here on MyMassHome!
The City of Boston also hosts a list of currently available affordable housing opportunities within and around the Boston, as well as other resources for your housing search. Visit Metrolist.