What is a buyout program?
Natural disaster risk can be reduced through the use of buyout programs in which an entity, usually a governing entity, makes an offer to buy property in an area that is considered high-risk for the natural disaster.
In the State of North Carolina, buyout programs are used by state and local governments to buy properties located in areas that are prone to flooding. Most buyouts in North Carolina have been funded by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) through its Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP).
The Strategic Buyout Program is a different program, run by a different agency, and funded instead by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), but the two programs have a lot of similarities. In both programs, properties are purchased from eligible property owners who voluntarily decide to sell their property. Once a property is bought out, it is then owned by the local government, the structures on the property are demolished, and the debris is cleared. A deed restriction is put in place so that no structures can ever be built on the land again. The local government is responsible for the ongoing maintenance of the site.
What is the Strategic Buyout Program?
The Strategic Buyout Program is administered by the North Carolina Office of Recovery and Resiliency (NCORR) to mitigate future flood risk. This program coordinates with local governments to establish buyout zones, which are distinct areas at risk for future flood damage. Our funding comes from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Community Development Block Grant – Mitigation (CDBG-MIT).
What is a buyout zone?
Buyout zones, which are also called disaster risk reduction areas (DRRAs), are designated areas that have a history of repeated flooding and are at risk of flooding again in the future, according to FEMA flood maps. These zones are concentrated areas of residential properties. The zones were determined through a data-driven and collaborative process between local governments and NCORR. At this time, only properties located within buyout zones are eligible for the Strategic Buyout Program.
Am I required to participate in the Strategic Buyout Program if my property falls within a Buyout Zone?
No, the Strategic Buyout Program is entirely voluntary for eligible property owners, and property owners can voluntarily withdraw their application from the program at any point up until closing. If a property owner decides to withdraw from the program, no further action will be taken to purchase the property. The state will not use its power of eminent domain to buy properties under this program.
What should I do if I am interested in participating in the Buyout Program?
To apply to the Strategic Buyout Program, we will have to verify that your property is in a buyout zone. You can call 833-275-7262 or email email@example.com to speak to a program representative and make sure your property is in a buyout zone. If you’d like to check to see where the buyout zones are, please visit our website.
If I decide to apply, how long will it be until I can sell my property?
The program is dedicated to moving all our applicants through the process as quickly as possible.
What is the overall process to purchase and clear the property for the Strategic Buyout Program?
The Strategic Buyout Program process has 8 steps:
1. Application Intake and Review
2. Preliminary Eligibility Review
3. Ownership Verification
4. Appraisal and Inspections
5. Offer Determination and Closing
6. Contractor Selection
7. Demolition, Clearance, and Restoration
Most applicant interactions with the program will end during Step 5, at the time of closing on the damaged property. Applicants who are eligible for incentives may apply for them within twelve months after the closing on the damaged property. After Step 5, the property is owned by the local government. The program continues to work to demolish the home and perform the required hazard abatement (if applicable), and complete other administrative or audit functions after closing on your property.
How does the Strategic Buyout Program support applicants with limited English proficiency or other special needs?
The Strategic Buyout Program is dedicated to being accessible for all people living in buyout zones and will make every effort to accommodate different needs, including but not limited to: providing translation and interpretation services, organizing home visits, and ensuring accessibility in all center locations.
If an applicant requests limited English proficiency or special needs services, either verbally, in writing, or through an agent, the program will provide these services without requesting additional documentation or verification. Applicants with disabilities and non-English speaking applicants can call 833-275-7262 directly so that the program can make accommodations for their specific situation.
What are the eligibility criteria for this program?
To be eligible for the Strategic Buyout Program:
The applicant and/or co-applicant:
- Must be able to prove their identity by providing the Program with current and valid government photo identification, such as a driver’s license
- Must be a current legal owner of the property
- Must be able to have clean, insurable, and merchantable title (or a viable method including timeframe for clearing nuisance liens) and have authority to sell (if applicable)
- Must be able to retire all property debts at or before closing
- Must provide proof that at least one household member (applicant, co-applicant, or their minor child/ward) is a US citizen, non-citizen national, or qualified alien
- Must be in a designated buyout zone. You can find out if your property is in a buyout zone by checking the maps on our website, rebuild.nc.gov/buyout, or calling 833-275-7262 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org .
- Must be on land you own (if applying for a manufactured home)
- Must meet federal environmental review requirements
- Must be an eligible property type. The program is being conducted in two phases, with Phase I focused on the buyout of residential properties owned at the time of the storm(s). Phase II will be initiated after substantial progress is made on Phase I and depends on the availability of funding. To find out if a buyout zone is in Phase I or Phase II, please reference the buyout zone maps on our website, call 833-275-7262 or email email@example.com .
Phase I property types are: residential properties such as owner-occupied primary residences, rental properties, second homes, vacant (or unoccupied) properties, and vacant lots where there was a primary residence or rental property on the parcel at the time of the storm. Examples of eligible property types include detached single-family homes, duplexes or triplexes, apartment buildings, or mobile or manufactured homes (where the owner owns both the land and the structure).
- For Phase I, the program will only purchase fifteen (15) rental properties owned by the same person or entity. All rental properties must provide proof that they were recently rental properties or certify to the fact that they were recently rental properties.
Phase II property types are: non-residential properties, vacant land, properties purchased after the qualifying event, and foreclosed properties.
If the property is owned by a business entity, there are additional eligibility requirements. These requirements can be found online in the Strategic Buyout Program Policy Manual.
Certain applicants may also be eligible to receive incentives, which have additional eligibility criteria. To find out if you may be eligible, please refer to our Incentives Overview.
If you have any additional questions on eligibility criteria or the program in general, please review the Strategic Buyout Program Policy Manual or get in touch with the program by calling a program representative at 833-275-7262 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org .
Am I still eligible for the program if I co-own property with additional owners?
Yes, you may still be eligible, but all owners must consent to selling the property for the property transfer to occur.
Am I still eligible for the program if I have moved out of the damaged property?
Yes, primary residency is not an eligibility criterion for buyout, but it is for incentives eligibility. You may be eligible for incentives even if you no longer occupy the property as a primary residence. Please refer to the Incentives Overview for more information.
What is a qualifying event and how does it relate to my Strategic Buyout Program application?
The qualifying event refers to the presidentially-declared disaster that impacted the damaged property. For the Strategic Buyout Program, the qualifying events are Hurricane Matthew (October 8, 2016) and/or Hurricane Florence (September 14, 2018). The program will determine the qualifying event for each buyout zone. This information can be found on the maps on our website or by calling 833-275-7262 or emailing email@example.com .
Some things to be aware of when it comes to the qualifying event are:
- The applicant and/or co-applicant must have owned the property at the time of the qualifying event to be eligible for Phase I of the Strategic Buyout Program.
- If a buyout zone was affected by both Hurricane Matthew and Hurricane Florence, the qualifying event is Hurricane Florence. However, if the applicant is interested in applying for incentives, they may provide proof of primary residency at the time of either storm.
Please note that the program will complete a duplication of benefits analysis based on the qualifying event. The applicant will need to provide the program with documentation on the disaster recovery assistance they received for the qualifying event so this analysis can be completed.
What are some examples of ineligible property types?
Contaminated sites, properties and/or structures with environmental findings, public housing and other government-owned or financed housing are all ineligible property types. Properties subject to restrictive covenants that are inconsistent with the future open space, recreational, or natural floodplain uses of the property are also ineligible.
I have applied to another program to be elevated, bought out, or reconstructed. Can I still apply for this program?
If your recovery needs are being met by another program, such as the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program or ReBuild NC’s Homeowner Recovery Program, you may not be eligible for funding under the Strategic Buyout Program. If you applied for another grant program and did not receive assistance, or have withdrawn from that program, you may be eligible for the Strategic Buyout Program if all other program eligibility criteria are met. If you are an applicant to the ReBuild NC Homeowner Recovery Program and interested in applying for the Strategic Buyout Program, you may be considered under both programs so long as you have not signed your homeowner grant agreement in the Homeowner Recovery Program or your initial offer package in the Strategic Buyout Program.
What if I am found to be ineligible for the program?
If you or your property is found to not meet the program’s criteria, you will be notified in writing of your application’s ineligible determination. In this determination, the program will explain which eligibility criteria you or the property did not meet and will provide potential ways to satisfy those criteria if applicable. If you do not agree with the ineligible determination rendered, you have the option to appeal.
Am I allowed to appeal program determinations?
You are permitted to file written appeals related to any program determination that impacts your eligibility or the amount of assistance the program will provide. During Step 1 (Intake), you will receive a copy of the program appeal procedures, which explains your rights to an appeal, and how to file an appeal. In order to appeal:
- You must first submit an appeal within thirty (30) days of receiving a written program determination.
- Your appeal is then reviewed for validity, timeliness, and completeness – if additional information and/or documentation is required, an Appeals Team Member may contact you via telephone or in writing to request additional information.
- Once your appeal is considered complete, it is then submitted for review by the Appeals Committee, which consists of NCORR staff. Subject Matter Experts will also provide recommendations to the Appeals Committee regarding a decision.
- Finally, the Appeals Committee will render its determination, and you will receive notice of their decision in writing. The determination is considered final.
- In order to better understand the determination, you may request an appeals consultation with an Appeals Team Member and your case manager after receiving the determination notice.
If I am eligible for the Strategic Buyout Program, how does the program determine how much I may receive?
During Step 4, the program will order an appraisal to establish the current fair market value of your buyout property. During Step 5, the program will send an initial offer letter to all eligible owners. This letter is a written offer from the program to purchase the property at the current fair market value based upon the appraisal conducted during Step 4. All property owners must accept this offer to move forward and schedule the closing. Any liens, mortgages, or other financial encumbrances on your property will have to be paid off at or before closing to meet the eligibility criteria of having clean, insurable, and merchantable title. Buyout funds may be used to pay off these debts at closing, up to the current fair market value of the property.
In addition to receiving funds for your property, certain applicants may also be eligible to receive incentive payments. For more information on incentives, please review the Incentives section below, or the Incentives Overview.
Do I have to be present at the appraisal? If so, why?
The Strategic Buyout Program requires the applicant, co-applicant, another owner, or a designee to be present at the time of appraisal. This is to ensure that our appraisers account for all the things that make your property unique and that the appraisal accurately reflects any improvements you may have made to your property prior to applying to the program.
What happens if I disagree with the appraised value of my property?
A written statement of the appraised value of the property will be given to you and all other owners in the initial offer. The program will also provide you with appeals procedures, which outlines how to file an appeal. If you are appealing the value of your property, you must provide a second appraisal at your expense to justify the appeal. If the second appraisal is found to be acceptable by NCORR, then the value of the program’s appraisal and yours will be averaged together for your final offer. However, if the second appraisal is found to be unacceptable, then the value from the program’s appraisal is used as the current fair market value of your property, and you will be notified in writing that your appeal has been denied.
What if I have a large mortgage? Does it even make sense for me to apply to this program?
We encourage all interested applicants to apply to the program. You are able to withdraw from this program at any point up until closing for any reason. The program can use the appraised current fair market value to pay off your mortgage and any other liens. If your mortgage exceeds your property’s appraised value, the program may assist in a short sale negotiation with your bank. If the negotiation is successful, your bank will allow the sale and may release you from your mortgage for the agreed-to amount. In addition to a short sale negotiation, you may also be eligible for our generous incentive package.
What is an incentive?
An incentive is an additional financial payment to help encourage participation in the Strategic Buyout Program. Our incentive packages have been designed to help eligible participants in the Strategic Buyout Program move to a new, permanent residence in an area with a reduced flooding risk. Eligible participants can receive incentives in varying amounts depending on their location, unmet need, and individual circumstances.
Program incentives have been designed to make sure that your new, permanent residence is affordable. So even if you are concerned that your damaged property may not be worth enough money to purchase a new home, or if you have several liens against your damaged property, our incentives may make it possible for you to move to a safer home.
Where can I get more information on incentives?
Please refer to our Incentives Overview.
What is duplication of benefits?
A duplication of benefits (DOB) calculation is required by federal law to ensure that disaster recovery benefits are not paid multiple times to an applicant for the same purpose. For the purposes of the Strategic Buyout Program, applicants will be required to disclose all disaster assistance they have received for the qualifying event from any source, including flood insurance, FEMA, and the Small Business Administration. This allows the program to determine whether there is any duplication between assistance previously received and the assistance provided through this program.
Will the DOB review impact the price paid for my property?
No, the appraised current fair market value of your property is not considered a “benefit” to you, so a reduction in the initial offer price due to other disaster recovery assistance is rare. However, if you apply for incentives, it is possible that if you received assistance for the same purpose as our incentives, the necessary DOB review could impact your incentive amount.
What is voluntary withdrawal?
The Strategic Buyout Program is a voluntary program. As such, if you no longer wish to participate in the program, you may voluntarily withdraw at any point before your property is purchased by the local government, which occurs at the end of Step 5.
How can I voluntarily withdraw?
To withdraw, you must submit a request to voluntarily withdraw in writing. This can be done via a letter or email, or by completing the Voluntary Withdrawal Request Form available at www.rebuild.nc.gov or provided by case manager. Please return this form to your assigned intake specialist or case manager by email, mail, or in-person at a ReBuild NC Center.
NOTE: Non-applicant owners CANNOT request a voluntary withdrawal from the program. Any voluntary withdrawal requests must come from the applicant and co-applicant. The Strategic Buyout Program is a voluntary program, so if non-applicant owners do not wish to sell the applicant property to the local government through the program, they will have the opportunity to reject the offer made by the program. If even one owner rejects the offer, the program will not make any further efforts to purchase the property.
What if I change my mind and decide to stay in the program?
You may re-enter the program at any time while the program is still accepting applications and return to the same step your application was in at the time you withdrew. Updated information and documentation may be needed. If you voluntarily withdrew and now wish to re-enter the program, please contact your assigned case manager for more information.
NOTE: Non-applicant owners CANNOT submit for re-entry into the program. Both the applicant and co-applicant (if one exists) must agree in writing to re-enter into the program.
I am also an applicant in the Homeowner Recovery Program, if I withdraw from Buyout, will I also be withdrawn from that program?
No. If you withdraw from the Strategic Buyout Program, you will not be withdrawn from the Homeowner Recovery Program. If you wish to withdraw from both programs at the same time, you will need to contact your assigned case manager from each program and state your intent to withdraw your applications.
If you have already paid escrow to the Strategic Buyout Program, program staff will ensure your funds are returned to you in full.
If you are dual-enrolled in another program which requires these funds, they will be kept in escrow.
If I have more questions, who will answer them?
If you have any questions, please contact your assigned case manager You may also call 833-275-7262 for more information.
What is involuntary withdrawal?
The Strategic Buyout Program is a voluntary program. Program policies require applicants to stay active and engaged throughout the entire application period. An applicant will be deemed “non-responsive” if they do not respond to contact attempts, fail to provide the program with required forms, or refuse to schedule necessary program inspections over a period of four consecutive weeks. If the applicant remains non-responsive, the application will eventually be involuntarily withdrawn from the program.
Why was I involuntarily withdrawn?
You were involuntarily withdrawn because you were deemed to be “non-responsive”. This means you did not respond to repeated contact attempts, you failed to provide the program with required forms, or you refused to schedule the necessary program inspections over a period of four consecutive weeks. Once your assigned case manager has recorded four consecutive weeks of non-responsiveness from you and any authorized contacts, the involuntary withdrawal process begins. Authorized contacts include alternative contacts, communication designees, and individuals with a valid power of attorney.
Why did I receive an Initial Non-Responsive Letter?
You have received an “Initial Non-Responsive Letter” because you have been non-responsive to requests and other communications from the program for a period of at least four consecutive weeks. You have 30 calendar days from the date on the Initial Non-Responsive Letter to contact your assigned case manager and discuss your continuing participation. If you do not contact the program within the 30-day period, you will receive an “Involuntary Withdrawal Notification Letter.”
Why did I receive an Involuntary Withdrawal Notification Letter?
You have received an “Involuntary Withdrawal Notification Letter” because you did not respond to the Strategic Buyout Program’s “Initial Non-Responsive Letter” within 30 calendar days from the date of that letter. You have 15 calendar days from the date on the “Involuntary Withdrawal Notification Letter” to contact your assigned case manager and discuss your continuing participation. If you do not contact the program within 15 days of the date of your “Involuntary Withdrawal Notification Letter,” your application will be withdrawn, and you will no longer be considered for program assistance. You will receive an “Involuntary Withdrawal Confirmation Letter” confirming your involuntary withdrawal from the program.
How can I stop the involuntary withdrawal process?
If your application has entered the involuntary withdrawal process because you have not responded to contact attempts, you or a co-applicant must contact the program to stop the involuntary withdrawal process. If your application entered the involuntary withdrawal process because you refused to provide the program with required forms or requested documentation, you or a co-applicant must provide the program with requested documentation to stop the involuntary withdrawal process. Program staff will work with you to obtain the required documents to move your application forward. If your application entered the involuntary withdrawal process because you refused to schedule a required program inspection of your property, you or a co-applicant must coordinate with the program to schedule the inspection to stop the involuntary withdrawal process.
I received an “Involuntary Withdrawal Confirmation Letter”, but I want to continue participating in the program, can I re-enter?
You have 30 days from the date of the “Involuntary Withdrawal Confirmation Letter” to appeal the decision and return to the program. You may submit your appeal request by completing the Request for Appeal Form and emailing it to firstname.lastname@example.org or delivering it to the nearest ReBuild NC center. If your appeal is approved, you will re-enter the program and return to the same step your application was in when you were involuntary withdrawn. Updated information and documentation may be needed.
I am also an applicant in the Homeowner Recovery Program. If I was involuntarily withdrawn from the Strategic Buyout Program, was I also withdrawn from that program?
Not necessarily. However, the involuntary withdrawal process is the same for all programs. If you did not respond to contact attempts, did not provide the program with required forms or documentation, or did not schedule required program inspections of your property, and as a result were involuntarily withdrawn from the Strategic Buyout Program, you may have also been involuntarily withdrawn from the Homeowner Recovery Program. If you have already paid escrow to the Strategic Buyout Program, program staff will process the paperwork to ensure your funds are returned to you in full. If you are dual-enrolled in another program which requires these funds, they will be kept in escrow.
My case manager informed me that I was withdrawn – I never indicated that I wanted to withdraw. Why was I withdrawn?
You were withdrawn because you failed to keep in contact with the program. You have an obligation to keep the program informed of current contact information and to update your records if your situation changes. The program makes every attempt to remain in contact with you and advise you of additional information needed. If you show a pattern of failing to respond over four consecutive weeks to the once-a-week communications from your case manager, the program will make due diligence communication efforts, and if you are unresponsive or fail to provide the necessary documentation to move forward, you may be involuntarily withdrawn. If you want to contest this determination, you must appeal within 30 days of the written decision.
I am going to be out of town during the next several months. I still want to participate and do not want to be withdrawn during my absence. Can you accommodate this?
Yes. Much of the process can be completed remotely using your mobile device or personal computer. You can appoint a trusted person/entity as your power of attorney to act on your behalf during your absence. The Strategic Buyout Program is also capable of working with you remotely, and you can arrange special accommodations in advance by speaking with your case manager.
If I am approved for the Buyout Program, does my rental home need to be vacant before I can close?
Yes, all properties must be vacated no later than 48 hours before the scheduled closing date and time.
Should I evict my tenant now if I am going to participate in the Strategic Buyout Program?
No, evicting a tenant to vacate your property may jeopardize your ability to participate in the Strategic Buyout Program. Tenants have rights under the Uniform Relocation Act. The program is required to give eligible tenants notice of the impending sale and need to move. If you have any questions regarding your tenant(s), please call 833-275-7262 or email email@example.com to speak with a program representative.
What are my responsibilities as a landlord?
As a landlord, you have responsibilities to comply with URA regulations. Landlord applicants are required to disclose the presence of tenants at application and later if a move-in is planned for a vacant unit after application. The program may find a landlord applicant ineligible if they do not: 1. Disclose existing tenants at the time of application; or 2. Comply with the move-in requirements outlined in the Uniform Relocation Act Policy Manual. If you have any questions regarding your tenant(s), please call 833-275-7262 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to speak with a program representative.
I have been denied assistance due to ineligibility. What do I do now?
You will have the right to appeal any program determination within 30 days of receiving a written determination. For more information on the appeals process, please refer to the Appeals Procedures.
What happens if there are more applications than funds to award?
Unfortunately, the Strategic Buyout Program may not be able to serve all applicants due to limited funding.
What can I do if I know that someone has submitted a fraudulent application to the Strategic Buyout Program?
The program has a strong anti-fraud, waste, and abuse policy. If you have any suspicion of fraud, please do not hesitate to report it. You can submit a complaint of fraud, waste or abuse to the North Carolina Office of State Budget and Management or the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Office of Inspector General, Fraud Hotline.
Why do you need such personal information as my race, ethnicity, and gender? I do not want to disclose these items to the government.
These are required by the federal government for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity purposes to work toward the goals of eliminating housing discrimination, promoting economic opportunity, and achieving diverse, inclusive communities.
If you do not wish to answer these questions, you may mark “I do not wish to answer” on the application.
How is the Strategic Buyout Program different from other buyout programs?
The Strategic Buyout Program offers buyouts in specific, concentrated areas, called disaster risk reduction areas (DRRAs), or buyout zones. Together with local governments, the Strategic Buyout Program has identified areas in counties impacted by Hurricane Matthew and/or Hurricane Florence that are at the greatest risk of damage from future flood and hurricane events. Only properties in these designated buyout zones are eligible for assistance. Additionally, the Strategic Buyout Program is a voluntary program. This means that the program will not purchase properties by use of eminent domain.
What are CDBG-DR and CDBG-MIT funds?
CDBG-DR stands for Community Development Block Grant – Disaster Recovery. CDBG-DR is a grant that is appropriated by the U.S. Congress and allocated by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to states and local governments after certain major disasters to help them fund their recovery from those disaster events. CDBG-DR programs generally include housing repair and development, infrastructure, economic development, public services, and planning activities.
CDBG-MIT stands for Community Development Block Grant – Mitigation. CDBG-MIT is similar to CDBG-DR funding, but funds are allocated for the purposes of mitigating against future disasters (e.g., flooding). CDBG-MIT funds can similarly be used for infrastructure, housing, and economic development, as long as the funds are geared toward keeping citizens safe from future disasters by enhancing existing mitigation and resiliency efforts at the state and local levels.
What happens with a property once it is bought?
After a property has been purchased using program funds, the local government becomes the legal owner. The program will demolish any structures, clear debris, and restore the property to its natural condition (e.g., green space for parks) or to an area that can help mitigate the effects of future floods. The program puts a deed restriction on the property so it can never have another structure built on it.
Why demolish structures instead of elevating and/or rebuilding them?
Buyout programs provide several disaster recovery and mitigation solutions that other disaster programs to elevate or rebuild properties cannot offer, including aiding at-risk property owners, improving the natural functions of flood plains, reducing flood risk and repeated damage to developed areas, and potentially contributing to savings on local flood insurance premiums.
- North Carolina hopes that by providing disaster-stricken property owners with the financial resources to move into reduced risk areas, communities will not suffer such a tremendous loss of property and life in the face of the next flood event.
- By demolishing these structures and returning the land to open, green space, the property can naturally absorb and retain storm water, reducing runoff and flooding into surrounding residential communities. In addition, this reduces the demand on public resources and prevents the local economy from being disrupted due to recovery needs. The Strategic Buyout Program is being implemented in other at-risk communities as a better, more cost-effective use of taxpayer funds than repairing structures that are at high risk of being flooded again.
- Finally, as a flood mitigation measure within your community, a buyout program can contribute to reduced yearly flood insurance premiums. Programs such as this one can result in an automatic 5% to 45% discount on flood insurance premiums if your community is part of the National Flood Insurance Program’s Community Rating System.
What costs does the Strategic Buyout Program cover?
CDBG-MIT funding covers the purchase of the home, as well as appraisals, surveys, title preparation and title insurance, limited services to assist applicants with title clearance (for certain title issues), and relocation assistance for any eligible tenants occupying the property. In addition, program funds cover the costs of securing the property, demolition, site clearance work, and lead-based paint and asbestos mitigation/remediation.
In addition, if you and your replacement property are determined eligible for incentives, the program funds also cover the cost of incentives to move into an area with reduced risk of flooding.
What costs does the Strategic Buyout Program not cover?
The program will not cover the costs associated with a second appraisal (for example, if submitted as part of an appeal). In addition, moving and storage costs are not covered by the program. The program also cannot pay more than the property’s appraised current fair market value or the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) lending limits for the applicable county, whichever is less. Finally, the program does not pay for the retirement of outstanding property taxes, mortgages, or other liens at closing, but the applicant may use buyout funds (up to the current fair market value of the property) to retire, or pay off, those financial obligations.