Frequent questions about Habitat homeownership

What is the first step toward purchasing a Habitat home?

First, review our program requirements. If you think the Habitat program may be a good fit for you, sign up here to be notified when our next application period opens. We will announce our next application period here and through our mailing list.

We have also created a guide to local homeownership resources.

Are there income requirements?

Gross household income must be between 50-80% of the Area Median Income. Area Median Income guidelines are set by HUD and based on household size (the number of people you plan to have living with you). You will be required to provide proof of steady income. Guidelines are subject to change.

How are applicants selected?

Once you return a completed application and supporting documentation, Habitat conducts an internal review for completeness. Then, we submit your application to one of our banking partners for underwriting and mortgage pre-approval.

Your acceptance into the Habitat program means that you have met Habitat’s criteria for selection and have been pre-approved for a home loan. We will now work with you to obtain an affordable mortgage from one of our banking partners. As you go through this process, you will also work toward fulfilling your Habitat partnership commitments.

We are pledged to the letter and spirit of the U.S. policy for the achievement of equal housing opportunity throughout the nation.  We encourage and support an affirmative advertising and marketing program in which there are no barriers to obtaining housing because of race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, or national origin.

Will credit checks or background checks be conducted?

Yes, Habitat conducts credit and background checks on all applicants. A criminal history does not automatically disqualify an applicant; any issues that come up in a background check will be handled on an individual basis.  Habitat will verify employment, obtain housing and banking references, and check credit to make an assessment as to whether Habitat is an appropriate program for the applicant(s). Habitat does not have a minimum credit score requirement, but credit history and debt will be assessed by us and our banking partners. Applicants cannot have filed bankruptcy in the last four years.

How long will it take to purchase my Habitat home?

Homebuyers are in the program until their house has been built or renovated; generally, this takes 8-12 months. The construction process is complex with many variables depending on funding sources, the construction schedule and building requirements. This complexity makes it difficult to predict the length of time from acceptance into the program to the date of purchase. We will keep you updated throughout the construction process.

Sweat equity is a core tenet of Habitat’s ministry. The term refers to the actual hands-on involvement of future homeowners in the construction of their homes and in other Habitat & community activities. Sweat equity is designed to meet three important goals:  1) Partnership through providing meaningful interaction between future homeowners, Habitat staff, volunteers and community members; 2) pride in homeownership, and; 3) development of skills and knowledge.

All Habitat homebuyers must complete 250 hours of sweat equity prior to closing on their house. These hours may be completed by family members planning to live in the Habitat house as well as by friends and relatives.

We will work with homebuyers to accommodate disability or impairment while completing sweat equity.

What is sweat equity?

Habitat does not build custom homes. You will have the opportunity to purchase a home that is appropriate for the size and composition of your household. To keep the homes affordable, Habitat cannot accept custom design requests. Habitat homebuyers often have the opportunity to select home finishings such as flooring and cabinets, but this is not always the case.

Habitat is committed not just to building homes, but to building community. We prioritize our construction efforts within focus neighborhoods to maximize our impact. You will have the option to select your home based on our current projects and focus locations.

What kind of houses does Habitat build?

Habitat is committed to keeping housing payments affordable for our qualified homebuyers. Your monthly housing payment, which includes your mortgage payment, homeowners’ insurance and property taxes, will not be more than 30% of your gross monthly household income. The sales price will take into account the fair market value of the home, number of bedrooms, location and additional amenities provided. The term of your Habitat/SONYMA mortgage product will be 30 years, with a fixed 2% interest rate.

How much will the house cost?