How Long Will It Take?

As people plan for housing and homeownership they are interested in knowing how long it will take to buy a home after they have been certified for the program. Unfortunately, there is not an easy way to determine this. The following is intended to help applicants assess their prospects within the program.

No Traditional Wait List

The homeownership program does not have a traditional wait list in which the household that has been on the list longest gets the next opportunity. Not all households are interested in or can financially qualify for every home that becomes available. Because of this, households only opt in to those homes that fit their situation. When they do this, they are entering the selection for the home.

Fair Selection Process

When a household enters a selection, they are placed in one of the following preference tiers based on their situation:

  1. Worked in the Boulder city limits for a year or more and been certified continuously in the program for a year or more.
  2. Worked in the Boulder city limits for a year or more.
  3. Worked in the Boulder city limits for less than a year and been certified continuously in the program for a year or more.
  4. Worked in the Boulder city limits for less than a year.
  5. Certified continuously in the program for a year or more.
  6. All other certified applicants.

The City of Boulder work preference is determined by and applicant’s current work location. Applicants that have worked in the City of Boulder in the past, but no longer do, are not eligible for this preference.

People classified as retired or permanently disabled are granted the work in Boulder city limits for a year or more preference.

If there is more than one household in a particular tier, a random drawing takes place among those in the tier. The first household has the first opportunity to make an offer on the specific home. If they pass, it goes to the second household and so on. If there is no one in the first tier or no one in that tier goes under contract on the home, those in the second tier then have an opportunity.

Some homes may have unique preferences based on home features, such as being more suitable for higher occupancy (i.e. have more space and/or a yard for households with at least one dependent) or accessible (preference given to those with disabilities for a home that has specific needed design features). These preferences are applied ahead of the standard tiers. This means that the highest tier preference will be given to households which comprise of a disabled member if accommodation is requested.

More about the selection process can be found in the Homebuyers Guide.


There are a few variables that effect how long it takes to buy a home. The availability of homes is one factor. Some years more homes come up for sale and some years less. Another factor that can affect the timeline is a household’s needs in a home. The more specific needs a household has, the longer it can take for a home to come up that meets those needs. Finally, the Fair Selection Process described above creates an element of chance.

Historical Patterns

Historically, the majority of Fair Selection Processes had entrants who were in tiers 1 and 2 above. As a result, those in the lower tiers have not regularly gone under contract and purchased homes in the program.

Shortly after each selection, the home listings on our website are updated with a breakdown of the selection. This is a good way to see who is currently prevailing in selections. The “Recently Sold” section has all the homes sold in the last year including the selection results.

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