HDFCs (Housing Development Fund Corporations) are essentially income-restricted cooperatives; they limit a potential purchaser’s ability to buy in based on whether their annual salary falls below the calculated income cap. The establishment of HDFCs were geared toward purchasers looking for a residential home to keep for a substantial period of time, with the possibility of passing it on to family members. They compose much of New York City’s affordable housing. HDFCs are further classified by the way in which the low income cap is calculated, either through a regulatory agreement with the city or without one.
If the building does have a regulatory agreement, then the income cap is based on a percentage of the median income within the surrounding neighborhood. If the building does not have a regulatory agreement, then the income cap is generated by a formula based on the building’s maintenance charges and utilities fees. Usually, the standard is to bracket the income at about seven times the annual maintenance charge. Further, the income cap will mimic the economics of the surrounding area and increase when the area becomes more affluent. For instance, as a maintenance charge increases within an HDFC building, the income cap will follow suit and allow for a greater annual salary. While HDFCs require a purchaser to fall within the low income cap, there is no requirement as per the resale price. Thus, a seller has full discretion in determining the market price of the HDFC. Nonetheless, the resale price is often regulated by the high flip tax that HDFC buildings impose (often about 30% of the profit) and the relatively limited supply of potential buyers that fit the income requirements to purchase.
The HDFC market is aimed to benefit purchasers, since a potential purchaser is able to acquire a high-profile residence at a price that is substantially lower than the market rate. The ideal purchaser is someone that has acquired a large trust or inheritance but has a low income. However, a purchaser trying to obtain funding may run into issues as banks tend to look less favorably on HDFC loans. This arises from the fact that HDFCs are seen as riskier investments, and thus have higher rates. Moreover, where a purchaser is unable to obtain bank financing, the HDFC is likely to require an all cash transaction. We would urge any HDFC purchasers to consult with a banker that has a proven track record of closing loans on HDFC projects, as the financing component of the transaction is often the piece of the transaction that has the most associated risk.
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