Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Below Market Rate Condominiums

One terrific option for first time homebuyers in any market is the purchase of a "below market rate" condominium. These are generally city-run programs to provide affordable entry to the real estate market for low and moderate income earners, especially in areas where housing prices can be high.

Every program is different, but many cities generally work with developers to set aside a percentage of units that would be designated as "below market rate." For instance, a one bedroom condominium might cost $275,000 instead of $425,000. And, these units are usually required to be as equitable to the condos priced at a fair market value.

These BMR programs have income restrictions and they often have lotteries for high-demand developments. But, the extra paperwork and patience can pay off if you are looking for affordable homeownership. The main downside to these programs is that you will earn little or no profit when you sell the unit, due to restrictive re-sale regulations, and you still have to pay HOA dues. But if homeownership is the goal, not profit-making, then BMR programs are a great option.

For information on the City of Emeryville's well-developed BMR program, visit their website. Berkeley also offers a BMR program, and so does San Francisco. Check out your own city's housing department if you don't live in these cities.

And, it just so happens that I am currently listing a beautiful BMR resale condo in the desirable Terraces at Emery Station building in Emeryville. It is a one-bedrom/one-bath top floor condo with some views of the Oakland Hills. The location is terrific, close to everything in Emeryville, from Ikea to Emery Bay and more. Plus, it is perfect for Amtrak commuters. The Terraces has great amenities, such as a gym with sauna and an entertainment room. And, this BMR condo is listed at just $264,400.

If you would like more information on this BMR condo or how to apply for BMR programs, please let me know. I'm always happy to help. I can be reached at 510-547-5970 x57 or

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