Buying a home in Washington, D.C., is not significantly different from the process in other states, although the D.C. area’s surrounding states may have policies that differ from those inside the district.
Home seller and buyer laws
In Washington, D.C., homebuyers are not required to hire an attorney for assistance in their transaction, although they may choose to use one. To close on the purchase of property, buyers and sellers can work with a title company or an attorney capable of title work.
Home sellers are required to disclose any property defects relating to water and sewer systems, insulation, structural systems, plumbing, electrical, HVAC, infestation by rodents or wood-destroying insects, appliances, alarm and intercom systems, garage door operations, fixtures and more.
Foreclosure may be judicial or non-judicial. In a judicial foreclosure, the foreclosure process is managed in court. In a non-judicial foreclosure, a lender can launch foreclosure proceedings with a borrower outside of court.
When it comes to property ownership, Washington, D.C., is not a community property district and offers joint property owners “equitable distribution” in the event of divorce or partnership dissolution. This means courts determine what is marital property and what is separately held, and distribute assets accordingly.
In Washington, D.C., real estate transfer taxes are typically 1.1% of fair market value for properties worth $400,000 or less, or 1.45% of fair market value for properties with higher values. This means transfer taxes on a $400,000 property would be $4,400.
Typical property taxes are $0.85 per $100 of property value — or $8.50 per $1,000. This means property taxes on a $400,000 home would be $3,400 per year.
Washington, D.C., residents who are seniors, disabled, active-duty military or non-U.S. citizens working on certain types of visas may be eligible for property tax exemptions.
Conforming loan limits
The conforming loan limit for mortgages purchased by government-sponsored enterprises Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac is $726,525 for one-unit properties in Washington, D.C. This is higher than the $484,350 limit for one-unit homes that applies to most of the United States; pricier areas such as D.C. have higher limits. D.C. is expensive enough to boast the ceiling loan limit announced by the Federal Housing Finance Agency for 2019.