City Assisted Owners FAQ

Below are some frequently asked questions about owning a City-assisted unit. If you do not see your question below, or if you would like additional information, please contact Antonia Finley, Homebuyer Coordinator, at 617/349-4643 or afinley@cambridgema.gov or Anna Dolmatch, Housing Planner, at 617/349-4645 or adolmatch@cambridgema.gov.

I would like to sell my unit. What do I need to do?

You must notify the City of Cambridge when you intend to sell your unit. The City has a Right of Repurchase on most restricted units. We will work with you to explain the sales process in detail. For an overview of the City Assisted Home Owner sales process, click here.

How long does it take to sell a unit?

There is no set time for the sales process. It can take several months, so it is important to notify the Housing Division of your intent to sell as soon as possible.

How is the sales price determined?

The sales price of each unit is determined by the formula in the restriction for that unit. These vary depending on the unit. The Housing Division will request the information necessary to calculate your resale price and provide you with the price calculation.

How do I know what my restriction says?

All buyers receive a copy of their restriction at closing. The documents are also recorded with the South Middlesex Registry of Deeds.

I would like to refinance my unit. What do I need to do?

Owners of restricted units may refinance at any time as long as the total of all loans secured by the unit, including Home Equity loans, do not exceed the affordable value. You may use any bank you choose. For more information on refinancing your restricted unit, click here.

How do I know the current affordable value of my unit?

You may request an estimate of the current Affordable Value of your unit at any time. The Housing Division will request mortgage information necessary to complete the estimate and send a letter showing the current value and the calculation.

I have done work in my unit. Will I be reimbursed?

Certain capital improvements made to restricted units are eligible for capital improvements. The capital improvement policy may vary for older restrictions, but for a general overview please click here. Capital improvements are added to the value at the time of sale only and are not included in the value for purposes of refinancing.

I need to have work done to my unit but I cannot afford it. Are there programs to help me?

Yes. The City supports the Home Improvement Program (HIP) that provides low-cost financing to eligible homeowners to make necessary repairs and renovations. For more information on the HIP program, click here or call Kevin McCormick at 617/349-4620 or kmccormick@cambridgema.gov.

My family size has changed. Can I move to a new affordable unit?

The City does not currently have a program in place for current owners to purchase again through a City program. However, we are always interested to know if owners housing needs have changed so we can develop programs and policies that may assist these owners in the future.

I am getting a divorce. What should happen to the unit?

In the case of a divorce, there are several options for the unit. For information about your specific situation, please contact Antonia Finley, Homebuyer Coordinator, at 617/349-4643 or afinley@cambridgema.gov.

What happens to the unit if I pass away?

Units are generally not inheritable and any transfer of ownership triggers the City's repurchase right. Proceeds from a sale are part of the owner’s estate and are distributed according to the will or other inheritance plan. There are certain situations when surviving family members may continue to live in the unit for a certain period of time. For specific questions about the terms of your restriction, please contact Anna Dolmatch, Housing Planner, at 617/349-4645 or adolmatch@cambridgema.gov or Antonia Finley, Homebuyer Coordinator, at 617/349-4643 or afinley@cambridgema.gov

I would like to move, but I would like to keep my unit. Can I rent it?

No. Units cannot be rented without City approval. However, if you purchased your unit prior to 1992, please check your restriction or contact the Housing Division to discuss the specific terms of your restriction. Renting a unit without City approval is a violation of the restriction and the City can exercise its Right of Repurchase, as well as recover all rent received and damages.

What if I don’t live in the unit but I don’t rent it?

The unit must be your only residence. If you are not living in the unit, you are in violation of the residency requirement of the restriction and the City can exercise its right to repurchase.

I live in my unit, but I have a neighbor in an affordable unit and I think they are not living there. What should I do?

If you suspect that someone is violating the terms of the affordable housing restriction or misusing their City-assisted unit in any way, please contact Chris Cotter, Housing Director, at 617/349-4634 or ccotter@cambridgema.gov.

There is a conflict between certain owners and the condo association. What can we do?

The City supports the work of Mediation for Results, a non-profit, professional mediation service. They can help with condo association issues, conflicts between neighbors, or any other housing issue. For more information about the services they offer, see Mediation for Results or visit the Mediation for Results web page.

My financial situation has gotten worse, and I am concerned about losing my home. What can I do?

If you are worried about losing your City-assisted unit to foreclosure, please contact Antonia Finley, Homebuyer Coordinator, at 617/349-4643 or afinley@cambridgema.gov. She can assist you in understanding your options as the owner of a restricted unit. For additional information please see foreclosure resources and assistance.

I received a form in the mail asking for information about my household. What is this?

The Housing Division sends out a survey form to all owners of City-assisted units. Each household receives this information every two years. This survey allows the Housing Division to gather information on how households change after purchase so we can develop programs and policies to better serve current and future owners. For questions about the survey, please contact Anna Dolmatch, Housing Planner, at 617/349-4645 or adolmatch@cambridgema.gov.

I own a limited equity coop. Is this the same as other City-restricted units?

Limited equity coops are governed by a set of by-laws that differ for each cooperative. The by-laws determine the value of shares upon transfer and the transfer process, as well as other rules and regulations for coop residents. If you have questions about the specific by-laws of your cooperative, please contact the members of your coop board or Anna Dolmatch, Housing Planner, at 617/349-4645 or adolmatch@cambridgema.gov .

Click here for general information on limited equity coops.