Through the Community Acquisition and Rehabilitation Loan (CARL), borrowers can obtain mortgage financing and home rehabilitation financing in one loan. As a single loan product, CARL simplifies the financing process for the purchase and rehabilitation of a property by reducing the cost, time, and complexity of obtaining multiple loans. Click on the questions below to learn more about CARL or submit an inquiry form here.


Who is CARL?

CARL is the guy in the yellow hard hat, and he is here to help you buy and rehab the home of your dreams.

What is CARL?

The Community Acquisition and Rehabilitation Loan (CARL) combines a mortgage loan and a rehabilitation loan to allow you to purchase a home and make the renovations that suit your lifestyle. As a single loan product, CARL simplifies the financing process for the purchase and rehabilitation of a property by reducing the cost, time, and complexity of obtaining multiple loans.

Where do I start?

Right here! You can go through all the questions on the FAQ page and review the online CARL documents to see if this is the right program for you. It is highly recommended that you set up a time with us to review the step-by-step timeline for CARL borrowers to gain a better understanding of the program and what to expect along the way. There are several things you can do ahead of time to be proactive during the CARL process, and we want to make sure you get through the program smoothly. Let us know how we can help! You can contact Alyssa Lyon at PCRG ( or 412-391-6732 ext. 209) to review the CARL timeline or if you have any questions. 

How much can I borrow?

A participating CARL lender can help you understand how much you can borrow based on your financial situation. Once a participating CARL lender determines that you are eligible for the CARL program, you will receive a pre-qualification letter which will tell you how much you can borrow. For a list of participating CARL lenders, please visit our CARL documents page and select the CARL Program Contacts document.

The minimum loan amount is $30,000 and the maximum loan amount is $300,000. The minimum rehabilitation amount must be at least $25,000 or 25% of the completed loan package.

How much do I need for a down payment?

The borrower will have at least 5% plus closing costs in a down payment (and there’s no mortgage insurance!). The borrower can have up to 6% of seller’s assist toward the purchase price of the home, but the borrower must have at least 1.5% invested in the project. The maximum loan amount is $300,000; but if the loan amount is greater than $233,000, the borrower will be required to provide equity greater than 5%.

What is the interest rate?

The interest rate is based on a Fannie Mae 30-year mortgage, with a 60 day commitment rate, plus 1% (rounded to the nearest 8th). The rate will be locked for 60 days at the time of application of the loan. The Fannie Mae 30-year, 60-day mortgage rate can be found at:

What are the fees associated with the CARL program?

The CARL Borrower Fees can be found in Section V of the CARL Term Sheet and Guidelines document. The CARL Term Sheet and Guidelines document can be found here.

Do I need a home inspection?

Yes. You need a home AND pest inspection. These inspection will be done at the cost of the borrower. The borrower will be required to undertake all improvements necessary to remedy the conditions presenting a danger to the health and safety of the occupants of the property. We recommend you use an ASHI-certified (American Society of Home Inspectors) home inspector.

What is the minimum debt-to-income ratio?

The minimum debt-to-income (DTI) ratio is 31/43. You can read more about DTI (also referred to as front and back end ratios) here. There are tools online, such as DTI calculators, that can give you a sense of what your DTI may be, but they are not always accurate. Please speak to one of our participating CARL lenders to find out your DTI. For a list of participating CARL lenders, please visit our CARL documents page.

Does PCRG lend me the money?

No. PCRG is not a lender. We are a nonprofit membership organization of Community Development Corporations (CDCs), Community Based Organizations (CBOs), and related nonprofits. We partner with local banks to originate the loans. PCRG, the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA), community leaders, and financial institutions worked together through the Community Bankers Collaborative Council (CBCC) to develop the underwriting criteria for CARL, and several banks have agreed to make these loans according to our standards.

Are there any grant programs that can combine with CARL?

Yes. If you’re a first-time home buyer, you may be eligible for the First Front Door (FFD) program, which provides borrowers with a 3-to-1 matching grant, up to a maximum of $5,000. Several of our participating CARL Lenders offer FFD to those who qualify. Read more about it here.

If you live in an eligible area, you may also qualify for the Urban Redevelopment Authority’s Residential Facade Improvement Program (RFIP). The RFIP is an up-to-$5,000 matching grant for eligible owners to fix up the facade of their residential property.

Where is the CARL Program available?

The CARL program, currently in its pilot phase, is offered in 57 census tracts in the City of Pittsburgh.  Click here for a list of eligible census tracts.

To find out the census tract for a property you have identified, you can go to: > select “2014″ in the drop down menu > enter the address of the property and click “search” > and then click “Census Demographic Data” on the left.  The Census Tract will be shown on the left next to “Tract Code” and on the map within the Census Tract boundaries (the red dot indicates your property location, and the blue lines immediately surrounding the red dot indicates the Census Tract boundaries).

Does PCRG have a list of available properties in the eligible CARL areas?

No. We recommend that you work with a realtor to identify homes within these areas.

What if I've never managed a construction process before?

Rehabbing a home can be intimidating, but don’t worry! CARL assigns a Construction Advisor to each loan to help you finalize the scope of work, inspect the completed work, and with your approval, pay the contractor from an escrow fund.

Do you have a list of contractors?

Yes. You may select a contractor from a pre-approved list or you may choose your own General Contractor for URA approval. For a list of pre-approved contractors, visit our CARL documents page.

What if I am unable to live in the property during the construction period? Do I have to pay rent and make principal and interest payments on the loan?

CARL makes it more affordable for individuals who are renting and unable to live in the CARL property during the construction period. During the first six months of the rehab work, borrowers can make interest-only payments. If you are unable to complete the renovations in six months, an extension may be requested and a fee may be charged. Once the construction term is over, principal and interest payments will begin regardless if the construction is complete.

Can I use CARL for investment properties?

Yes and no.

You cannot buy a home using CARL and live in another home while you rent out the CARL property. The CARL program has a five-year owner-occupancy requirement (i.e. the CARL borrower must live in the property for five years). The CARL program is not available for commercial or mixed-use buildings.

However, the CARL program is available for 1-4 family contiguous unit, with one unit being the principal residence of the borrower. So, if a CARL borrower purchase a 4-unit home, the borrower can live in one unit and rent out the other three units.

I would love to use CARL, but I'm not ready yet. Is there anything I can do now to prepare for CARL?

Absolutely. If you’re thinking about buying a home, in one year, two years,  five years, or more, that is great! Buying a home is not something you should rush into, and we want to make sure you’re ready for home ownership. A home ownership counseling agency can review your financial situation and help you plan a path towards home ownership. We recommend you reach out to NeighborWorks Western PA (412-281-9773), ACTION-Housing (412-281-2102), or any other HUD approved agency.



What if I have more questions about CARL?

If you have any additional questions about the CARL program, please contact Alyssa Lyon, PCRG’s Manager of Member Engagement, at or 412-391-6732 ext. 209 or submit an inquiry form here.




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