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NYC Department of Housing Preservation & Development
Homebuyers

Frequently Asked Questions
For Homebuyers

    > I need affordable housing. How can HPD help?
    > How can I purchase a City-sponsored home?
    > What are the requirements to apply for City-sponsored housing?
    > How does the lottery process work?
    > What is a community preference?
    > Do I have to write my social security number and back account number in applications for housing lotteries?
    > Would my application for HPD-sponsored housing be considered if I have bad credit or a bankruptcy?
    > What happens after the lottery is completed?
    > How long does the interview process for purchasing a home take?
    > What does it mean if I don't receive a call requesting an interview?
    > How do I buy an HPD-owned Building?
    > I have questions about housing programs for municipal employees.
    > Where can I get homebuyer counseling?
    > Is there any down payment assistance?
    > Can I refinance a mortgage for a home purchased through the Partnership New Homes Homeownership Program or the Nehemiah Program?
    > I need help fixing up a house. How can HPD help?
    > How can I avoid taking a bad loan?
    > What are the danger signs of a predatory loan?
    > How can I avoid deed scams?
    > How can I avoid home repair contractor scams?
    > How often must owners register their buildings with HPD?
    > How do I contact HPD for more information?


I need affordable housing. How can HPD help?
Information about affordable rental apartments rehabilitated through HPD programs is available on the Affordable Housing Hotline by calling 311 (311 can be accessed outside of New York City by dialing (212) NEW YORK). Information about affordable homeownership options is also available on this website at our homeownership page and by calling 311 to request a homeownership kit. The City itself does not sell homes, but works with real estate professionals and community sponsors to market homes. You will see phone numbers listed for our partners at our homeownership page, and you will need to contact them directly to receive an application that is specific to each development. The HPD website also offers general information about buying a home in New York City.

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How can I purchase a City-sponsored home?
HPD has developed several programs that enable New York's families to purchase new homes constructed on vacant City-owned properties or newly-renovated City-owned homes. City subsidies and other financing tools are used to make these homes affordable to low-, moderate-, and middle-income families. Applications are available from the developer or the marketing agent hired by the developer to market the homes. The contact information for any developer that is currently accepting applications is available at HPD's web site, nyc.gov/hpd. Developers of City-sponsored homes and apartments are required by HPD to advertise in a New York City metro daily paper, a community newspaper where the homes/apartments are located, and an ethnic newspaper. HPD does not provide applications for homes sold through City-sponsored programs. Purchasers for the homes are selected through a lottery supervised by HPD.

Many people have expressed interest in buying a dilapidated building and fixing it up themselves. HPD does not sell buildings in dilapidated condition to the general public. Occasionally, we sell a building at market value when we have buildings in better physical shape. Current tenants in good standing are given the first opportunity to purchase their building. If the tenants are not interested or not able to purchase, the building is offered to the general public through a Request for Offers process as part of the Asset Sales program.

What are the requirements to apply for City-sponsored housing?
Requirements vary by program. Some City-sponsored homeownership programs are limited to households that fall within certain income levels. Some require the purchaser to be a first-time homebuyer, defined as someone who has never owned a small home (one- or two-family home), co-op or condo for use as a primary residence. Applicants should also be credit worthy and able to qualify for a mortgage. Please see the descriptions of HPD's programs for homebuyers as well as the lists of homes that are currently available. There is a community preference for all City-sponsored homes.

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How does the lottery process work?
One week after the application deadline, the developer for the homes and an HPD representative go to the Post Office to retrieve all of the completed applications received within the application period. Both parties take the sealed applications to a separate location, mix them by hand and empty them into a large bag. During the lottery, the developer randomly draws the sealed applications from the bag, and assigns a matching number to the envelope and the application inside the envelope. Relevant information from the application, such as applicant's name, address, family size, income and Community Board district, is entered onto a log sheet. This process is repeated until the number of applications opened and recorded in the log equals at least 20 times the number of apartments/homes available.

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What is a community preference?
HPD gives preference for either the sale or rental of 50% of all homes, co-ops, condominiums and rental apartments it creates or rehabilitates to current residents of the community board district where the homes are located. All applicants must meet the individual program requirements to be eligible and be selected by lottery. The community preference was established to provide greater housing opportunities for long-time residents of New York City neighborhoods where HPD has made a significant investment in housing. Preference is also given to active duty uniformed NYC police officers, New York City municipal employees, people who are mobility impaired, and people who are vision impaired.

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Do I have to write my social security number and back account number in applications for housing lotteries?
No, you do not have to include your social security number and back account number in applications. If you are selected in the lottery, you will be called for an interview. If you are eligible for the apartment, the developer may then request your social security number and bank account number to do a credit check or to verify your income.

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Would my application for HPD-sponsored housing be considered if I have bad credit or a bankruptcy?
A private developer has a right to refuse an applicant on the grounds of bad credit or a bankruptcy, according to HPD's marketing guidelines.

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What happens after the lottery is completed?
After the drawing, the developer schedules interviews (in numerical order of the log sheet) with prospective homeowners. To make the process more efficient, HPD strongly recommends that the developer interview applicants who meet the various preference requirements (resident of Community Board district where development is located, active duty uniformed NYC police officers, mobility impaired, vision impaired) prior to interviewing other applicants.

All applicants must meet the individual program requirements to be eligible and receive the community preference. No application fee or broker fee is required. If an applicant passes the interview, the developer may require a fee to conduct a credit check on the applicant.

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How long does the interview process for purchasing a home take?
Generally, the interview process is completed within one month after the application deadline. Due to the large volume of applications submitted for each development, only applicants selected for an interview will be called regarding the status of their application. The same lottery process is used to select tenants for City-sponsored rental developments.

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What does it mean if I don't receive a call requesting an interview?
Applicants will not receive a call for an interview if 1) their application was not drawn before the developer reached the amount that corresponds to 20 times the number of homes/apartments available for sale or rent; 2) they did not meet the eligibility requirements for the program through which the home/apartment was developed, or 3) their application was received after the deadline.

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How do I buy an HPD-owned Building?
Many people have expressed interest in buying a dilapidated building and fixing it up themselves. HPD does not sell buildings in dilapidated condition to the general public. Occasionally, HPD sells buildings at market value without City subsidy through the Asset Sales program when they are in better physical shape. Current tenants in good standing are given the first opportunity to purchase their building. If the tenants are not interested or not able to purchase, the building is offered to the general public through a Request for Offers Process. Those interested may call (212) 863-6118.

HPD also works with community members and non-profits to convey clusters of buildings to local ownership for rehabilitation and management through the Neighborhood Entrepreneurs Program, Neighborhood Redevelopment Program, Tenant Interim Lease Program, and the Tenant Ownership Program.

Information on plans for specific HPD-owned buildings may be obtained by calling 212-863-8961.

The Department of Citywide Administrative Services' (DCAS) Division of Real Estate also holds auctions of vacant land and commercial buildings. Please call 311 for further information (311 can be accessed outside of New York City by dialing (212) NEW YORK).

Where can I get homebuyer counseling?
Click here for a list of HPD-approved counseling agencies

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Is there any down payment assistance?
Many New Yorkers want to buy a home but don't have enough money saved for their down payment and closing costs. As part of Mayor Bloomberg's "New Housing Marketplace Plan," the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) created the HomeFirst Down Payment Assistance program. It provides qualified homebuyers with up to 6% of the home's purchase price as a forgivable loan to use toward the down payment or closing costs on a new 1-4 family home, a condominium, or a cooperative in one of HPD's Homeownership Zones in the Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens, or Staten Island. This means that if the home costs $400,000, the eligible buyer would get $24,000.

Can I refinance a mortgage for a home purchased through the Partnership New Homes Homeownership Program or the Nehemiah Program?
Yes. HPD will refinance and subordinate to a new first mortgage if:

  1. A homeowner sells or refinances his/her home up to the subsidized purchase price of the home and
  2. HPD remains in second position behind your first mortgage.

Click here for information about the Mortgage Services Request Procedure.

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I need help fixing up a house. How can HPD help?
HPD could make the work more affordable. If you own a vacant or deteriorated residential building or a mixed-use building with vacant residential units, the Small Buildings Loan Program, the New Partners Program, and the 421b tax incentive program could help you to finance the rehabilitation work. For smaller repairs or system upgrades, you may be eligible for the Home Improvement Program or the Senior Citizens Home Assistance Program. Owner-occupied 3 to 4 family homes and mixed-use buildings may also be eligible for system upgrade assistance under HPD's Article 8A program and for lead-paint treatment assistance under the Primary Prevention Program. Tax abatements and exemptions after the completion work may be available under the J-51 program. HPD's Owner Services Program is a source of referral information.

How can I avoid taking a bad loan?
You want to get the best possible loan; but there are lenders out there who want sell you a dishonest or predatory loan. Predatory loans harm borrowers by making it difficult or impossible to keep up with payments. Borrowers may pay unnecessary fees and excessive interest charges. Predatory lenders prey on people who are unfamiliar with the banking system. They target seniors, minorities, or anyone whose credit makes it hard to get a regular bank loan. Predatory loans take advantage of borrowers with a variety of abusive practices and:

  • Target people of color, elderly and disabled people for high-cost loans;
  • Charge excessive interest rates and higher fees;
  • Keep secret the true costs and terms of the loan;
  • Approve a loan without considering a person's ability to repay;
  • Convince borrowers to refinance frequently (or "flip") the loan;
  • Carry terms that make it difficult for the borrower to refinance later.

What are the danger signs of a predatory loan?

  • High bank fees (call competitors and comparison shop)
  • Balloon payment (a lump sum due at the end of the term of the loan);
  • A loan is based on your home equity rather than your income;
  • Credit life insurance added to the loan.

Don't gamble with your biggest asset. Call 311 and get good advice.

How can I avoid deed scams?
Homeowners facing foreclosure do have options, and must be careful to avoid foreclosure scams. So called "bailout specialists" tell you that, for a fee, you can deed your home to the bailout specialist and then rent it back. The bailout specialist takes the money, does not arrange for the short sale, and does not make any payments on the mortgage. The end result is that your home loan payments are not made and the mortgage goes into foreclosure, without you being aware of any fraud. Before you sign anything, call 311 and learn the facts and your options.

How can I avoid home repair contractor scams?
Many homeowners - especially seniors- are targeted by scam artists who use high pressure tactics to sell unneeded and overpriced contracts for "home improvements." Often these scam artists charge more than their quoted prices or their work does not live up to their promises. When the homeowner refuses to pay for shoddy or incomplete work, the contractor or an affiliated lender threatens foreclosure on the home. Home improvement contractors use several methods of targeting owners: high pressure phone calls, flyers, advertisements, and door-to-door sales. Unscrupulous contractors often employ one or more of the following sales tactics:

  • "bait and switch" - offering low prices for installed items like windows and home siding, and then telling the owner the item is out of stock and can only be replaced with a high-priced substitute;
  • misrepresenting the urgency of a needed repair
  • claiming the item is more expensive than advertised because it has to be "custom made" to fit the senior's home;
  • misrepresenting that the consumer is receiving a discount because the home is selected to model the repair when, in reality, the consumer is paying market price or more;
  • misrepresenting the energy savings, health benefits, and value added to the home;
  • misrepresenting the terms on which financing is likely to be arranged.

Unscrupulous contractors often use deceptive tactics to hide the true cost of paying for the work. These tactics may include:

  • using more than one contract for a single repair in an attempt to confuse the home owner;
  • claiming that there is a "cash" contract that doesn't contain financing terms although the deal is intended to be financed;
  • adding extra hidden charges above the negotiated price;
  • providing expensive (high rate) financing or arranging with a third party to finance the work;
  • obtaining hidden kickbacks from lenders or loan brokers for referrals.

Once the contractor has the downpayment in hand, or if you give the contractor full payment up-front, they may disappear. To guard against this, call the Better Business Bureau beforehand to see if they have registered any complaints on the contractor, and check with Consumer Affairs about whether the contractor is licensed. Also, pay in installments, when the work is completed to your satisfaction.

Don't be scammed. If you are unsure about the deal offered by a home repair contractor, call 311.

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How often must owners register their buildings with HPD?
The Housing Maintenance Code requires owners of multiple dwellings to register their buildings with HPD annually. "Multiple dwellings" are defined as buildings with three or more dwelling units. One- and two-family dwellings need not be registered unless the owner lives outside of the City. In such cases, the building must be managed by a New York City agent and registered with HPD's Registration Assistance Unit. Buildings containing six or more dwelling units must be registered by April 1 of each year, and buildings containing five or fewer dwelling units must be registered by October 1 of each year. HPD may sue owners who fail to register their buildings according to the law. Information and downloadable registration forms are available from the Registration Assistance Unit which may be reached by calling 311 (311 can be accessed outside of New York City by dialing (212) NEW YORK).

In addition to registering with HPD, owners of buildings that contain rent regulated apartments are also required to register individual rent regulated apartments annually with the State Division of Housing and Community Renewal (DHCR). For more information, 311.

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