Oakland Below Market Rate Program Frequently Asked Questions [FAQ]

Posted: November 4th, 2021 11:14 AM

Last Updated: June 15th, 2023 11:08 AM

Q: The program documents define the minimum down payment, is there a maximum down payment?

A: The unit’s “Declaration of Resale Restrictions” state the financing terms in the section “Acceptable Loan Types and Downpayment Minimums” -- usually found in Exhibit 4, or in the Exhibit “Refinancing Policy And Procedures”. The City reserves the right to require buyers to provide a supportable rationale when the buyer’s proposed front end ratio (PITIA plus utilities and maintenance reserve) is below 25%, so the minimum ratio may restrict the down payment.

Q: Is the seller responsible to document compliance with the City’s Sidewalk Repair Policies and Ordinance? What if the BMR unit is part of a Home Owners Association (HOA)?

A: Yes, compliance is required by law. The City of Oakland's Sidewalk Certification Ordinance requires that the public sidewalks abutting a property are inspected by the owner and brought into ADA compliance at the time of sale or transfer. Owners may inspect the public sidewalk to assess its condition, or hire a professional to inspect, perform repairs with permits if needed, and obtain the Compliance Certificate. To apply to obtain a compliance certificate or to inquire about the process, visit the page https://www.oaklandca.gov/resources/sidewalk-certification-faq. If the property has a Homeowners Association (HOA), some portion of the walkways and other common elements internal to the development are usually the Association’s responsibility to maintain; this is the owner’s responsibility to investigate. Review the Association documents and contact the Association if needed to determine if the Association or the individual unit owner is responsible to perform any necessary repairs. Review the Sidewalk Repair Policies on the City’s Sidewalks page to determine if you are a low-income owner qualified for no-cost repair assistance.

Q: Is the seller responsible to document compliance with the East Bay Regional Private Sewer Lateral (PSL) program? What if the BMR unit is part of a Home Owners Association (HOA)?

A: Yes, compliance is required by law. The PSL may be part of the HOA’s common elements, in which case the HOA may share in the responsibility, so the seller should request that the HOA provide the certification documents. Prior to approval for the sale to close, the seller must provide either the final “Compliance Certificate”, or the “Time Extension Certificate” and the $4,500 extension fee if applicable. The extension certificate allows the seller and the HOA an extension of time to secure the final Compliance Certificate past close of escrow if needed. For details, questions, and resources, visit the link above or EBMUD Private sewer laterals.

Q: Does the applicant’s lender need to be a “participating” or “preferred” lender?

A: Applicants may use a lender of their choosing as long as the lender can meet the program requirements. Buyers may wish to select a lender experienced with BMR financing by visiting our Lender List pages https://www.oaklandca.gov/resources/view-first-time-homebuyer and Oaktown Roots Preferred Lenders

Q: What is the purpose of deed restrictions?

A: Deed-restrictions are a mechanism for preserving the long-term affordability of units whose price was reduced to below-market levels through a subsidy. Read a detailed definition of "Deed restrictions" here.