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Virginia expands eligibility for home-buying help

Karen Kasmauski
For Virginia Center for Investigative Journalism
Ellie Jernigan, 27, at a home for sale in Henrico County.

Read the original story on WHRO's website.

More people are now eligible to get help from the state to buy a house.

Virginia Housing writes loans and gives out grants to eligible homebuyers — most notably first-time home buyers. Those programs come with income restrictions and limit the cost of homes that people can buy.

Virginia Housing decided to raise the income limits, so people making more money are eligible for first-time homebuying assistance.

In addition to raising the income limits, Virginia Housing has also increased the amount a buyer can pay for a home to between $60,000 and $120,000.

Mike Urban, Virginia Housing’s director of homeownership, said the increases are partially a response to market conditions. Since 2018, home prices have increased by about 36% across the state.

The limit increases vary depending on the size of the family and the region of the state. For instance, a household of three people or more in Hampton Roads making less than $121,000 would qualify for the state’s standard housing bond loans.

In 2022, WHRO News found that housing in Hampton Roads was less affordable than anywhere else in the state, when wages are compared to housing costs. And data suggests things aren’t improving, according to a recent report from Old Dominion University.

While home prices have continued their climb, real incomes have diminished due to inflation. Hampton Roads is among the regions with the worst losses in real incomes: The median household income is worth 6.3% less than it was in 2019.

Conversely, the ODU report found that Richmond's median household income rose 3.7% between 2019 and 2022. And in Staunton, it increased 11.3%.