Looking to become a Habitat for Humanity homeowner? Below are some common questions our applicants have. If you do not find answers to your questions below, please call us at (206) 855-5193 or send a quick email.
How can I buy a Habitat home?
It’s important to understand that Habitat for Humanity does not give houses away. We sell homes to families who meet our program’s qualifications and agree to contribute sweat equity hours building their home. Therefore, each applicant must agree to partner with us in the program, which includes providing all documentation needed as well as attending homebuyer education classes and working 250 hours of sweat equity. Basic requirements to own a Habitat home are provided at the homeownership information meetings.
What is the first step toward purchasing a new house?
If you are interested in the Habitat for Humanity Homeownership Program and have reviewed the requirements to see if you qualify, the next step is to attend a Homeownership Information Meeting to learn more about our program and receive an application. These meetings are generally held twice a month. To get information about upcoming meetings, please sign up for our Mailing List with your contact information or call (206) 855-5193. Once you’re signed up, you will receive email notification about upcoming information meetings with links to register to attend one.
What is a homeownership information meeting?
An information meeting explains how the Homeownership Program works, goes over Habitat qualifications and reviews how to apply. After you attend an information meeting, a Habitat representative will email out the link and instructions for the online application. All applications and supporting financial documents are due by the deadline given at the information meeting, you will not be able to access the online application after that date. A paper application may be provided upon request.
How are the applicants selected?
Applications are reviewed for basic eligibility. We will ask homeowner applicants to submit financial documentation with their application. After completing the financial review, an in-office interview will be conducted by our Family Selection Committee. Applicants are then asked to meet with an WSHFC approved lender to secure financing for an “Affordable Mortgage”. Once Habitat has all of your information and a pre-approval letter from your lender, your file is sent to the Senior Leadership Team for final approval. If you do not qualify at any time during the application process, you will receive a letter in the mail explaining why.
What is an affordable mortgage?
Habitat will not sell you a home you cannot afford. The lender must provide you with a first mortgage which keeps your housing cost below 30% of your gross income. The first mortgage must have a fixed interest rate and cannot require a balloon payment. If the first mortgage does not cover the price of the home, Habitat will help you secure Down Payment Assistance and provide you with subsidy financing. Habitat staff will help you determine the mortgage amount you can afford.
Will credit checks or background checks be conducted?
Yes. Habitat checks the credit of applicants and does criminal background and national sex offender registry checks on all adult household members. A criminal history does not automatically disqualify an applicant; any issues that come up in a background check will be dealt with on an individual basis. Habitat will verify employment, check credit and make an assessment as to whether Habitat is an appropriate program for the applicant(s). While Habitat has a minimum credit score of 620, depending on whether the homes are existing or new construction, lenders may have a different requirement. The applicant will need to meet the credit requirements of both Habitat and the lender they choose.
How do you define “family?” Do I have to have children to be pre-approved?
Habitat serves all types of households and families. A “family” can be singles, couples, partners, families with or without children, multi-generational families, etc. The application selection process is impartial. Familial status, age, race, color, religion, sex, handicap, sexual orientation, gender identity or national origins play no part in the choice.
If pre-approved, how long will it take before I purchase my Habitat house?
Families are in the program until their house has been built or remodeled; generally, this takes 12 to 18 months. Ideally, construction of a partner family’s house begins within two months from the time of approval. Completion of the house will vary. 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 pre-approval in the program to purchasing a house.
What is sweat equity?
Sweat equity is the volunteer time participants invest in earning the right to purchase their Habitat house at an affordable mortgage. Following approval by the selection committee, the applicant must complete 250 hours of sweat equity hours, the majority of which is completed on the construction site. All sweat equity hours must be completed before pre-approved partners are able to purchase their house. Habitat makes accommodations for any applicant who cannot work on site due to physical limitations.
What kinds of houses does Habitat build or remodel?
We build two to four bedroom, wood frame houses with approximately 900 to 1400 square feet depending on the family size. Remodeled house square footage and amenities vary. A stove, refrigerator, washer, dryer, and dishwasher are provided with all houses. Often Habitat houses or remodeled houses are attached, and share walls. Habitat houses can be condominiums, duplexes, multiplexes, or single dwellings. Habitat builds and sells simple, decent houses.
Do applicants get to choose the location or design of the home?
Habitat does not build custom houses. Habitat will choose the size of the house based on household size and affordability. The location of the house is dependent upon where Habitat is building or remodeling houses. The locations available will be discussed during the homeownership information meeting.
How much will the Habitat house cost?
Habitat sells houses for market value, which cannot be determined until the house is complete. No matter what the price of the house, Habitat is committed to keeping housing payments affordable. Habitat partner families’ housing payments will be set at 30% of their household gross monthly incomes at the time of sale. This monthly amount will include the mortgage and interest payment, homeowners’ insurance, HOA dues, and property taxes.
Will I be allowed to sell my Habitat house?
Yes, but there are resale restrictions on all of our properties. The type of resale restriction varies so it’s important that all Habitat homeowners contact our Director Homeowner Services at (206) 855-5213 if they want to sell their Habitat home.