December 29, 2016

Beyond Bricks and Sticks

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A weekly digest of current trends in housing and community development. The discussion examines topics from infrastructure to community fabric.

NeighborWorks America invites qualified community development nonprofits to apply for a share of $26.5 million in grants to revitalize distressed communities hurt by the foreclosure crisis

(RECAP: The application period closes 8 p.m., ET on Jan. 9. Grantee awards are expected to be announced in April 2017. More information about this program and the informational webinar can be found at Project Reinvest: Neighborhoods.)

HUD Launches New Community Investment Tool

(RECAP: HUD today unveiled the Community Assessment Reporting Tool (CART) – an innovative reference and mapping tool created to help answer the question, “How is HUD investing in my community?” CART uses geospatial technology to show the wide variety of HUD investments by city, state, county, metropolitan area, or congressional district. It also provides an interactive mapping interface that allows users to explore HUD investments within their community and see property- and grant-level detail at a variety of geographies.)

Evolving U.S. Suburbs Continue to Shape Residential Demand and Development

(RECAP: U.S. suburban housing markets are well positioned to remain preferred places to live and work over the coming decades, even as many urban cores and downtown neighborhoods continue to attract new residents and businesses, says a new report from the ULI Terwilliger Center. The report classifies and compares suburbs in the 50 largest metropolitan areas in the U.S.—shown in a searchable online map—and assesses the key issues that will shape suburban residential demand and development in the years ahead.)

Family Options Study: 3-Year Impacts of Housing and Services Interventions for Homeless Families

(RECAP: The goal of HUD’s Family Options Study was to understand which housing and services interventions work best for families with children experiencing homelessness, and to learn whether or not certain types of families benefit more or less from different interventions. Extensive cost data on each of the interventions studied was also collected, in order to calculate the fiscal costs of achieving the outcomes that were documented.)

Rise of the glass giants: how modern cities are forcing skyscrapers to evolve

(RECAP: The future cannot be found in a small number of freakishly tall designs. Rather, it is in the vast number of efficient, versatile skyscrapers, which will be essential to cope with growing urban populations and keep cities running. These exceptional new towers include a variety of eco-friendly innovations, such as renewable energy generation, solar shading and double-skin facades with natural ventilation.)

December 28, 2016

In Case You Missed It: A Look at Recent National Housing Policy News

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HUD Announces New Housing Counseling Certification Requirements

Effort designed to improve and standardize professional standards for those who counsel consumers
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced it will require that housing counselors participating in HUD programs to be certified to offer counseling services to consumers. In order to become certified, housing counselors must pass a standardized written examination and work for a HUD-approved housing counseling agency (HCA). Counselors must demonstrate competency in each of the following areas of housing counseling: (1) financial management; (2) property maintenance; (3) responsibilities of homeownership and tenancy; (4) fair housing laws and requirements; (5) housing affordability; and (6) avoidance of, and responses to, rental and mortgage delinquency and avoidance of eviction and mortgage default. Though announced recently, HUD's final rule will take full effect three years following the release of the certification examination. To help counselors prepare for the exam, the Department is offering intensive training and study resources (in English and Spanish) to its counseling stakeholders. HUD is providing a wealth of resources to individuals seeking HUD certification including a practice test that will be available shortly and the actual certification test is expected to be published in the Spring of 2017.

Caregivers for the Disabled in Virginia May Face Cuts

An effort to bring state-funded services to thousands more disabled people could jeopardize funding for those who are already receiving support, advocates for the disabled say. Virginia health officials have been trying to cut into an 11,000-person wait list for services paid for with Medicaid vouchers, part of a broader effort to comply with the terms of a 2012 federal court settlement that, under the Americans With Disabilities Act, requires the state to find a way to allow more people with disabilities to live and work in community environments rather than institutional settings. Faced with an increasing demand for services, the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services has started to use an assessment of individual patients’ needs known as the Supports Intensity Scale (SIS) to help determine funding levels. The assessments have led to a reduction in state reimbursement rates by as much as half in some cases, prompting concern from family members and advocates about the quality of care people with disabilities will receive when the new rates take effect in January.

Affordability Falls to Lowest Level in Eight Years

A consumer's ability to afford to purchase a home during the fourth quarter was at its lowest level in eight years due to rapid price appreciation, moderate wage growth and the post-election increase in interest rates, said Attom Data Solutions. Nationally, the affordability index in the fourth quarter was 103, down from 108 in the third quarter and down from 116 a year ago to the lowest level since the fourth quarter of 2008, when the national home affordability index was 102. And the trend is likely to get worse next year, said Daren Blomquist, senior vice president at Attom, in a press release.

December 21, 2016

Beyond Bricks and Sticks

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A weekly digest of current trends in housing and community development. The discussion examines topics from infrastructure to community fabric.

Bringing a Mixed-Use Strategy to Fading Industrial, Retail and Hotel Properties

(RECAP: They all offer cities a way to turn blighted areas into engines of revitalization and economic stimulus, and create profits for their owners and tenants as well. And, as they detailed, pulling off such ventures requires imagination, a deft mix of marketing acumen, and a close working relationship between public and private stakeholders.)

Cities Warned On Restricting Group Homes

(RECAP: In a 20-page question-and-answer document issued jointly this month, the U.S. Department of Justice and HUD are clarifying state and local government responsibilities under the Fair Housing Act when it comes to zoning and land use laws.)

Build a Better Burb: The Hub for Great Suburban Design  

(RECAP: While a wide range of tools exist to help create walkable, mixed use places, fewer tools and resources exist specifically for transforming suburban landscapes. Included here are a number of tools and resources that can help and inspire all stakeholders imagine, plan, design, and create new and reinvented suburban neighborhoods.)

The NeighborWorks Book

(RECAP: NeighborWorks Works is a collaboration book that will showcase this network's innovative solutions in affordable housing and community development. NeighborWorks believes this book will help policymakers, funders, media, potential partners and industry professionals examine trends, challenges and potential solutions in creating economic opportunity in all American communities.)

4 Reasons Nonprofits Should Pay Attention to Snapchat

(RECAP: Although it may still be perplexing to envision what sort of impact your nonprofit can have from being active on Snapchat, trends from this social network truly reflect the future of social sharing. Here are four ways nonprofits can take advantage of this trendy social app.)

December 20, 2016

VHDA’s Commitment to the HUD Housing Counseling Network— Past, Present and Future

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Since 1996, when VHDA sponsored the first national conference on counseling and loss mitigation for single-family loans, we’ve recognized the important role housing counseling plays in affordable housing. Today, 20 years later, our commitment to counseling continues through a variety of initiatives, including the HUD Housing Counseling grant program and eight VHDA-funded grant programs. A five-member team handles VHDA’s grant programs, which include the HUD Housing Counseling and Education grant. Each team member is assigned a portfolio of specific nonprofit organizations and local government partners. Team members provide individual assistance, often meeting one-on-one with organizations and partners to address concerns, troubleshoot and discuss improvements to services.

VHDA also has added a compliance officer to our staff to develop and maintain policy and procedures for all grant programs to make sure VHDA meets all HUD and OMB requirements. The officer also provides oversight for VHDA’s Grant Management Team, as well as for our external partners. This results in improved service delivery, streamlined processes when applicable, and the assurance that VHDA and our counseling network are following the necessary HUD policies.

In addition, VHDA also contracts with NeighborWorks® America to provide local training and certifications for our housing partners. VHDA hosts this place-based training to ensure the network is receiving training that meets the National Standards for Homeownership Counseling and Education. Knowing that HUD’s Final Rule regarding certification will be released soon, we plan to provide our counseling network with access to the resources and training they need in the coming new year.

Finally, VHDA recently implemented a new grant management system to simplify our housing counseling grant process from application to closeout. We continue to solicit feedback and look for improvements to manage our grant funds through this system.

For more information, contact

December 19, 2016

In Case You Missed It: A Look at Recent National Housing Policy News

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FHFA Releases 2017 Scorecard for Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and Common Securitization Solutions  

The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) released the 2017 Scorecard outlining specific conservatorship priorities for Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and their joint venture, Common Securitization Solutions, LLC.  The 2017 Scorecard furthers the goals outlined in FHFA’s Strategic Plan for the Conservatorships of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, published in May 2014.  These goals include:

  • Maintain, in a safe and sound manner, credit availability and foreclosure prevention activities for new and refinanced mortgages to foster liquid, efficient, competitive and resilient national housing finance markets; 
  • Reduce taxpayer risk through increasing the role of private capital in the mortgage market; and 
  • Build a new single-family securitization infrastructure for use by the Enterprises and adaptable for use by other participants in the secondary market in the future.

FHFA Releases Final Duty to Serve Rule for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac 

The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) released its final "Duty to Serve" rule requiring the Government Sponsored Enterprises (GSEs) Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to support lending for housing for low-income families in three underserved segments of the housing finance market: manufactured housing, affordable housing preservation, and rural areas. The rule fulfills a statutory mandate placed on the GSEs by the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008. FHFA also released a factsheet summarizing the rule. The rule will take effect January 2018.

December 13, 2016

Take a Free VHDA Homeownership Class in Northern Virginia

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Are you thinking about buying a home, but not sure where to start? Attend a free class to learn about the buying process and how to prepare for homeownership.
The course, developed by VHDA, teaches the key steps to homebuying. Industry experts – such as housing/credit counselors, real estate agents, lenders, home inspectors, and closing agents – volunteer their time and share their knowledge to make you a more informed buyer.
The class covers personal finances and credit, loan types, the loan process, working with a real estate agent, the home inspection, the closing process and more. To register, go to

Upcoming Free Classes (in English and Spanish): 

  • Jan. 7, 2017 – 9 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. – Housing & Community Services of Northern VA, 6231 Leesburg Pike, Suite 410, Falls Church. This class is taught in Spanish.

  • Jan. 14, 2017 – 8:30 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. – Keller Williams Realty Office, 6408 Grovedale Drive, #101, Alexandria. This class is taught in English.

  • Jan. 21, 2017 – 9 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. – Fairfax South County Center, 8350 Richmond Highway, Room B217, Alexandria. This class is taught in English. 
  • Jan. 21, 2017 – 8:30 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. – Keller Williams Realty Office, 6408 Grovedale Drive, #101, Alexandria. This class is taught in English.

  • Jan. 28, 2017 – 8:30 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. – Keller Williams Realty Office, 6408 Grovedale Drive, #101, Alexandria. This class is taught in English.

  • Feb. 4, 2017 – 9 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. – Housing & Community Services of Northern VA, 6231 Leesburg Pike, Suite 410, Falls Church. This class is taught in Spanish.

  • Feb. 4, 2017 – 8:30 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. – Keller Williams Realty Office, 6408 Grovedale Drive, #101, Alexandria. This class is taught in English.

  • Feb. 11, 2017 – 8:30 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. – Keller Williams Realty Office, 6408 Grovedale Drive, #101, Alexandria. This class is taught in English.

  • Feb. 18, 2017 – 9 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. – Fairfax South County Center, 8350 Richmond Highway, Room B217, Alexandria. This class is taught in English.

  • Feb. 18, 2017 – 8:30 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. – Keller Williams Realty Office, 6408 Grovedale Drive, #101, Alexandria. This class is taught in English.

  • Feb. 25, 2017 – 8:30 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. – Keller Williams Realty Office, 6408 Grovedale Drive, #101, Alexandria. This class is taught in English.

  • March 4, 2017 – 9 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. – Housing & Community Services of Northern VA, 6231 Leesburg Pike, Suite 410, Falls Church. This class is taught in Spanish.

  • March 18, 2017 – 9 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. – Fairfax South County Center, 8350 Richmond Highway, Room B217, Alexandria. This class is taught in English.

December 12, 2016

In Case You Missed It: A Look at Recent National Housing Policy News

No comments:® 2017 National Housing Forecast 

The 2017 national real estate market is predicted to slow compared to the last two years, across the majority of economic indicators. Home prices are anticipated to increase 3.9 percent and existing home sales are forecasted to increase 1.9 percent to 5.46 million homes. Interest rates are expected to reach 4.5 percent due to higher expectations for inflationary pressure in the year ahead.® is forecasting the homeownership rate will stabilize at 63.5 percent after bottoming at 62.9 percent in 2016. New home sales are expected to grow 10 percent, while new home starts are expected to increase 3 percent. The forecast is based on GDP growth of 2.1 percent, a 2.5 percent increase in the consumer price index and unemployment declining to 4.7 percent by the end of the year.

Top Five Housing Trends in 2017

The housing market in 2016 was largely defined by two main trends: rising home prices nationwide and falling interest rates due to political events such as the Brexit vote and the U.S. presidential election. And while certain features of the housing market this year are expected to remain the same in 2017, such as the popularity of Western metropolitan areas, others are expected to change. From the rising influence of millennials to shifting trends in home prices and housing inventory, this article provides a look at the top housing market trends for 2017, according to Joe Kirchner, senior economist at

FHFA Announces Successful Implementation of Release 1 of the Common Securitization Platform  

The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) announced that Release 1 of the Common Securitization Platform (CSP) was successfully implemented on November 21. This means that Freddie Mac is now using the CSP for Data Acceptance, Issuance Support, and Bond Administration activities related to current single-class, fixed-rate, mortgage-backed securities. The implementation of Release 1 demonstrates that the system, operations, and controls of the CSP and Common Securitization Solutions (CSS), a joint venture owned by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (the Enterprises), are functional.

NAHB Releases the 2016 “Priced Out” Estimates 

NAHB Economics recently released its 2016 “Priced Out” Estimates showing that, nationally, a $1,000 increase in the median new home price (triggered, for example, by additional regulation) will leave 152,903 households priced out of the market. This means that 152,903 U.S. households could qualify for a mortgage on the median-priced new home before, but not after, the price increases. The number of priced-out households varies across both state and metropolitan areas. The differences are largely driven by the size of the population and the affordability of new homes. Among all the states, California registers the largest priced out effect where a $1,000 new home price increase pushes 15,328 households out of the market, followed by Texas (13,674), and Pennsylvania (9,374).

2017 Mortgage Deduction: What Every Taxpayer Should Know

The tax laws encourage home ownership with a variety of tax breaks, and the largest involves deducting the interest that homeowners pay on mortgages. Right now, there aren't major legal changes on the books that will affect the mortgage deduction in 2017, but the recent results of the presidential election point to a broader shift that could have implications for some homeowners in the future.

A Snapshot of Today’s First-Time Homebuyer

The data is in for the newest profile of this year’s first-time homebuyer. MGIC pulled out seven handy facts and created a shareable infographic to describe top traits of the homebuyer group. Single-women increased their share in the market, hitting levels not seen since 2011, according to the National Association of Realtors’ annual Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers survey. While married couples make up the largest share of homebuyers at 66%, and had the highest income at $99,200, single women are increasing their role. Last year the share of single women fell to its lowest point since 2002’s 15%, but this year they seem to be making a comeback. Single women represented 17% of the market this year, the highest point since 2011.

December 9, 2016

Viridiant to Host Lecture: Balancing Energy Efficiency, Historic and Affordable Housing Preservation

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Dec. 15 @ 3 p.m. - 4:30 p.m. | $5

1221 E. Brookland Park Blvd., Richmond

Viridiant will host a site visit of the newly renovated Highland Park Senior Apartments in Richmond. Staff and partners from Grimm + Parker and the Community Preservation and Development Corporation (CPDC) will discuss how this recently renovated 77-unit project utilized Housing Credits, as well as state and federal Historic Tax Credits, to bring new life to the old Highland Park Public School. They will discuss unique technical challenges presented when balancing green building, affordable housing and historic preservation goals.

Participation is $5.

December 7, 2016

Beyond Bricks and Sticks

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A weekly digest of current trends in housing and community development. The discussion examines topics from infrastructure to community fabric.

The Art of Deal Negotiation

(RECAP: While negotiation is an important skill set for any professional, it’s critical for those in the affordable housing space when navigating transactions with developers, agencies and other organizations. On December 15, HAND will host a training titled “The Art of Deal Negotiation” featuring Charles Craver, Freda H. Aversion Professor of Law at George Washington University Law School. For a complete outline of topics to be discussed, click here.)

Feds Seek Input On Expanding Community-Based Services

(RECAP: In a notice published in the Federal Register this month, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, known as CMS, said it is seeking suggestions about reforms and policy changes that the agency could pursue in order to grow availability of community-based services. CMS is accepting public comments through Jan. 9.)

Old buildings are made for you and me

(RECAP: The Atlas of ReUrbanism examines a wide range of cities and aligns the historic preservation movement more closely with that of urbanism. It makes the case that historic buildings are critical to supporting human activity in cities. Areas with older and smaller buildings with a wide age range have more density, diversity, small businesses and entrepreneurial activity. The also have more affordable housing.)

Paycheck To Paycheck 2016

(RECAP: School workers provide essential services to their communities, yet many are unable to afford to live near where they work. The 2016 edition of “Paycheck to Paycheck” focuses on the affordability challenges faced by both teachers and non-instructional school workers by highlighting five of the 81 occupations in the Paycheck to Paycheck database: bus driver, child care teacher, groundskeeper, social worker and high school teacher.)

A data-driven way to build resilience in cities

(RECAP: Building “resilience” in cities is a hot topic among city leaders. Yet even to many who agree with that goal, the concept of urban resilience remains vague and the act of creating more of it hard to measure. The City Resilience Index is a tool that breaks “resilience” down into recognizable parts — and gives local leaders a way to assess where their city stands.)

December 5, 2016

In Case You Missed It: A Look at Recent National Housing Policy News

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Trump Picks Ben Carson to Head HUD 

President-elect Donald Trump's transition team announced this morning that he has selected Dr. Ben Carson to be his Administration's Secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Carson is former Republican candidate for President and served as the director of pediatric neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Maryland from 1984 until his retirement in 2013. A Trump statement released today says, "Ben Carson has a brilliant mind and is passionate about strengthening communities and families within those communities." It also says, "We have talked at length about my urban renewal agenda and our message of economic revival, very much including our inner cities. Ben shares my optimism about the future of our country and is part of ensuring that this is a Presidency representing all Americans. He is a tough competitor and never gives up."

Trulia Report Finds Housing Credit Development has no Significant Impact on Surrounding Home Values  

Real Estate aggregator Trulia released a report titled, "There Doesn't Go the Neighborhood: Low-Income Housing Has No Impact on Nearby Home Values." The report studied the impact of new Low Income Housing Tax Credit (Housing Credit) developments on nearby home values between 1996 and 2006. The report compared the price per square foot of homes at two separate distances from new Housing Credit developments. Homes within 2,000 feet were considered close to the development for the purpose of the study, and were compared to homes between 2,000 and 4,000 feet from the development. The authors state that using linear distance as the studied factor is common in property value studies and reduces the idiosyncratic impact of neighborhoods.

The Impact of the 2016 Elections on GSE Reform

Recap and Release: Many of the president-elect’s advisors are strong opponents of the Treasury Department’s net worth-sweep, and include a plaintiff in ongoing litigation about the legality of the third amendment to the Preferred Stock Purchase Agreements. One might surmise that this should increase the new administration’s support for enabling the government-sponsored enterprises (GSEs) to rebuild capital as a possible prelude to their eventual re-privatization. While eliminating the sweep could be done without an act of Congress, it would require approval by the new Treasury secretary and the current director of Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), Mel Watt, whose term has two more years to run. Director Watt has suggested he wants to replenish the GSEs’ diminishing capital buffers, but there is no indication he supports recap and release as a reform strategy. Further muddying the waters is that we are only half-way through a congressionally-imposed two-year cooling off period that would make it very hard to execute recap and release.

FHA Announces Increased Single-Family Loan Limits for 2017 

Earlier today the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) announced the county loan limits for its single-family mortgage programs for 2017 and issued a Mortgagee Letter that increases the minimum loan limit for low-price areas and the maximum loan limit for high-cost areas. FHA currently sets the loan limit for most counties at 115 percent of the county's median home price. Mortgages that exceed the limit are not eligible for FHA insurance. In addition, FHA also establishes a "floor" for low-cost areas, which it defines as counties where the median home price is 65 percent or less of the Federal Housing Finance Agency's (FHFA) conforming loan limit. Similarly, FHA also establishes a maximum loan limit for high-cost areas, where the median home price reaches or exceeds 150 percent of the conforming loan limit.

HUD Publishes Small Area Fair Market Rent Final Rule 

HUD published in the Federal Register a final rule regarding the use of small area fair market rents (SAFMR) in certain metropolitan areas, and replacing HUD's existing 50th percentile fair market rent (FMR) policy for the Housing Choice Voucher (voucher) program. SAFMRs reflect rent standards in zip code areas while traditional FMRs reflect a single rent standard for an entire metropolitan region. According to HUD, 50th percentile FMRs—the current policy for addressing high voucher concentration – have been largely ineffective. HUD expects that SAFMRs will better address high levels of voucher concentration in certain communities and give voucher holders access to areas of high opportunity by providing a subsidy that is adequate to cover rents in those areas.

U.S. Will Ban Smoking in Public Housing Nationwide

Smoking will be prohibited in public housing residences nationwide under a federal rule. Officials with the Department of Housing and Urban Development said that the rule would take effect early next year, but that public housing agencies would have a year and a half to put smoke-free policies in place. The rule will affect more than 1.2 million households, the officials said, although some 200,000 homes already come under smoking bans adopted voluntarily by hundreds of public housing agencies around the country.

December 2, 2016

Housing Credit Q.A.P. Workshops start Dec. 8, New Session Offered for How to Complete a LIHTC Application

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Housing Credit Q.A.P. Workshop

Our first Housing Credit Q.A.P. Workshop (formerly known as the How to Apply Workshop) will be held in Fairfax next Thursday, Dec. 8. This workshop will also be held in:

Richmond on Jan. 4, 2017 – with a simultaneous web broadcast available for viewing at VHDA’s Southwest Virginia Housing Center in Wytheville.

Norfolk on Jan. 5, 2017

Space is still available. Register now.

New ‘How to Complete a Virginia LIHTC Application’ Workshop

Due to popular demand, we’ve added a ‘How to Complete a Virginia LIHTC Application’ workshop to our calendar. This workshop will be held at the Virginia Housing Center in Glen Allen on Jan. 19, 2017.

With all the changes to the Q.A.P. and the application, we encourage your staff to attend this informative training session. If you haven’t registered and plan to attend any of our upcoming events, please click here for our registration calendar.

December 1, 2016

VHDA’s New Mortgage Loan: For First-Time AND Repeat Buyers

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VHDA has a new mortgage loan that may be a great option for first-time and repeat homebuyers. It’s called the VHDA Fannie Mae (FNMA) HFA Preferred with Reduced Mortgage Insurance (MI) and it comes with the following benefits:

  • Lowest conventional mortgage insurance payments.
  • Eligible for VHDA Down Payment Assistance grant (DPA) and Mortgage Credit Certificate (Homebuyer Tax Credit).
  • Flexible down payment sources – gifts, FNMA Community Seconds, and VHDA DPA grant funds.
  • No mortgage insurance required with down payments of 20% or more.

There is a 3% minimum down payment amount, so homebuyers will want to find out if they qualify for our Down Payment Assistance grant. There is also a minimum credit score of 660. Find out more about this loan. To talk to a VHDA-approved lender who can provide more information about this new loan option go to