HOMEBUYER CHOICE PROGRAM
You Choose Your Home, We Help You Buy
Choose your neighborhood, choose your home, and Houston Community Land Trust will help make your home purchase affordable by buying the land and placing it in trust.
Eligible homes must meet the criteria in our Home Shopping Guide. Interested buyers must qualify for the purchase through our application process (see our How to Buy page for more information).
Your Partner in Purchasing
Here's how Homebuyer Choice Program financial assistance can help make your home purchase more affordable
With the Homebuyer Choice Program, a qualified homebuyer can receive up to $150,000 or $100,000 in financial assistance grants to help lower the cost of buying a high-quality home in the City of Houston that meets the program criteria.
The homebuyer contributes what they can afford to their home purchase, usually in the form of a standard mortgage. The financial assistance grant helps cover the rest of the home's purchase price, as well as the buyer's reasonable closing costs.
With financial assistance lowering the cost of the home for the homebuyer, Houston Community Land Trust permanently captures that affordability by placing the land beneath the home “in trust”. With the land beneath their home held in trust, the new homeowner joins a community of homeowners who share land ownership with the community land trust (or CLT). All CLT homeowners agree to pass on the affordability of their home to future buyers: both by limiting its resale price to an affordable amount set out in the Ground Lease - and by agreeing to sell to a modest-income buyer who can deeply benefit from that affordability in the future.
(Of course, if the homeowner never decides to sell their home, it can be passed down through inheritance instead.)
Even though they'll share ownership with the community land trust, the homeowner keeps the exclusive right to use and enjoy the land beneath their home for as long as they live there, and takes on the responsibilities of upkeep and maintenance that a typical homeowner would.
Contribute an affordable amount to your purchase.
The homeowner must bring financing or other funds to their purchase, called the Homebuyer's Contribution. The minimum contribution is $70,000 for
The homebuyer may choose to contribute more than the minimum amount to reach the home's contract price. Contributing more than the minimum is okay, as long as the mortgage is affordable.
Affordable means the homebuyer's estimated monthly housing costs* will remain below 33% of their monthly income. It also means that when housing payments are added to the homeowner's other consumer debts, such as credit card and car payments, the homeowner's bills each month will remain below 45% of their income.
Minimum Homebuyer's Contribution
Homebuyers must bring at least this minimum amount to their home purchase, in the form of financing or other funds.
The following types and sources of funds do not count toward the Homebuyer’s Contribution: closing costs paid by the homebuyer, the Homebuyer Choice Program financial assistance grant and any third-party grants or forgivable down payment assistance loans the homebuyer may bring to the table.
* Monthly housing costs for this purpose include mortgage principle and interest, property taxes, homeowner's insurance, private mortgage insurance, and Houston CLT Lease Fees. Estimates are calculated by Houston CLT staff based on gross household income.
Home Shopping Guide
What kinds of homes are eligible for assistance?
The home's location, type, condition and flood risk must meet our criteria to be eligible for financial assistance. Read on for more details.
Single-family homes, including townhomes, are eligible.
Cooperative units, condominiums and manufactured homes are not eligible.
Must be located within an incorporated area of the City of Houston.
Must pay property taxes to the City of Houston and Harris County.
Homes in an A- or B-rated school zone are eligible for assistance up to $150,000.
Homes in other areas are eligible for assistance up to $100,000.
NO "fixer-uppers." Homes must be move-in ready with any identified defects repaired by the seller before closing.
All systems must be in good condition with no need for substantial repairs within the first five years.
Must be insurable with a regular homeowner's insurance policy.
Must not be situated in a flood plain or 100-year flood zone.
Must not be situated in a 500-year flood zone unless the structure is fully compliant with current flood ordinances and the homebuyer agrees to buy flood insurance.
Are You a Realtor?
Homebuyers must be represented by a licensed realtor when purchasing through the Homebuyer Choice Program. Realtors should familiarize themselves with program requirements using our Realtor Handbook, which contains everything you need to know to effectively guide your client through the homebuying process.
What is Community Land Trust Homeownership?
Community land trusts create housing affordability through shared ownership: the homeowner owns the home itself, while the community land trust owns the land beneath, stewarding it for the benefit of the homeowner, future homeowners, and the community as a whole.
CLT homeowners agree to earn modest equity in their homes over time and, if they sell, to sell to another limited-income buyer. This way, the price of CLT homes always remains affordable to future buyers.
Homebuyer Choice Program Step-by-Step
Follow this step-by-step guide to find your new home with the Homebuyer Choice Program
Apply & Get Qualified
with help from our staff
Follow the steps on our How to Buy page to apply online. Then, our staff will contact you to review your eligibility and help you get qualified.
When you've completed your pre-purchase requirements, you'll get a qualification letter from Houston CLT to let you know you're qualified to purchase through the program.
Make an Offer
prepare for closing
Work with your realtor and Houston CLT staff to make an offer to the seller on the home of your choice.
Our staff will help you and your realtor write a Homebuyer Choice Program-approved offer contract and navigate our inspection requirements.
Now is the time to work closely with Houston CLT staff to determine how much you will need to bring to your purchase, and how much you are eligible to receive in assistance through the program.
Buy Your Home
place the land in trust
Houston CLT will connect you with purchase assistance at closing to reduce the cost of your home to you and help cover your closing costs.
In return, you'll place the land in the land trust so the home stays affordable to future buyers (and property taxes remain low). You have exclusive use of the land under a 99-year ground lease.
The Homebuyer Choice Program is generously funded by the
City of Houston.