FAQs for Applicants
- How long does the process take?
- How is income calculated?
- Is there a down payment required?
- What is sweat equity?
- How much is the monthly mortgage payment?
- Do you have a waiting list?
- Can I reapply if I am denied?
- Do I have to be employed?
- What is the U.S. Citizenship requirement?
- Can only families with children apply?
- Can I apply as a single applicant if I am still legally married?
- Can I qualify if I have had a foreclosure?
- Can I qualify if I have had an eviction?
- How can I find out what is on my credit report?
- What if my credit report shows outstanding collections, debt, bankruptcies, judgments or liens?
- Can I choose where I want my house to be built?
How long does the process take?
Building and buying a home with HFHGC is not a quick process. From approval to purchase of your home can take anywhere from six to eighteen months. However, once Habitat receives your initial application, you will be contacted by mail within 30 days and notified either:
1) Application is complete, you meet our ability to pay and general requirements and we are ready to schedule a home interview to assess your need for housing and willingness to partner and complete the application process to determine if you are eligible.
2) Your application is incomplete and a list of required documents will be provided.
3) Your application has been reviewed and denied. The notice of adverse action will list the reason(s) that your application was denied.
How is income calculated?
We look at a family’s gross monthly income, considering everyone over the age of 18 in the household. We count income from job wages, child support, alimony, food stamps, Social Security Survival benefits, SSDI, SSI, and TANF.
Habitat counts the gross monthly income of the applicant and co-applicant(s) when determining if the monthly income meets the minimum income qualifications for the homeownership program. Households whose monthly income is not within the income qualification range will not qualify.
If the applicant’s income meets the minimum income qualifications, Habitat examines the income for all members of the household to determine if the total household income exceeds the maximum income qualifications for the homeownership program.
Is there a down payment required?
No. But, homebuyers are required to pay up to $800.00 towards the first year’s premium for homeowner’s insurance prior to purchasing home.
What is sweat equity?
Sweat equity is the cornerstone of Habitat and the strategy used to empower our homebuyers that sets us apart from other affordable housing providers. Habitat is not a “hand-out,” but a “hand-up.” A home is not being built for you or given to our homebuyers. Each Habitat homebuyer builds their home side by side with volunteers and then purchases the home when complete. Nothing is given away but opportunity.
Habitat uses the term “sweat equity” to refer to the hours of labor our homebuyers dedicate to building their homes, and the homes of their neighbors, as well as attending homeownership classes and Habitat events. HFHGC homebuyers begin their sweat equity after being accepted into the program, earning a minimum of 8 hours of sweat equity per month until their home begins construction.
Once a home begins construction, homebuyers are required to work each Saturday side by side with the volunteers building their home. Sweat equity reduces the amount of paid labor needed for a house, which in turn helps reduce cost. Additionally, time spent building your own home can instill a sense of pride and ownership, teaching you the basic building and house-maintenance skills that are necessary for successful homeownership. Note: A single applicant will need to earn a minimum of 250 hours of sweat equity, while two applicant households will earn a minimum of 500 hours.
How much is the monthly mortgage payment?
Monthly mortgage payments vary, but will never be more than 28% of a homebuyer’s monthly income. Monthly mortgage payments include an escrow payment for homeowners insurance and taxes. Payments are approximately $500/month (including taxes and insurance).
Do you have a waiting list?
No, we are always accepting applications.
Can I reapply if I am denied?
Absolutely! If you are denied for our program, the reason(s) for denial will be listed. This provides you with the opportunity to correct any issues and resubmit another application. We can help these applicants with strategies to improve their financial situation, refer them to other agencies that may be able to assist and encourage them to apply to the program again.
Some of our homeowners were denied the first, second and even third time they applied due to outstanding collections and debts, income that was below our limits or other issues. They successfully improved their eligibility, reapplied and were accepted into the program.
If you need help finding community resources, our staff can refer you to tools and resources available to help you improve your situation.
Do I have to be employed?
No, but you must have a steady income for at least the prior year that does meet our income guidelines. Qualifying income may include, but is not limited to child support, alimony, SSA, SSI, retirement and income from your employment.
What is the U.S. Citizenship requirement?
All applicants must be U.S. Citizens or Legal Permanent Residents. Copies are required of two (2) of the following documents for each applicant and co-applicant: driver’s license, Permanent Resident Card (Green Card), Social Security Card, state photo ID, passport.
Can only families with children apply?
No. Individuals and families qualify for a Habitat home by needing adequate, affordable housing, ability to pay their mortgage in addition to other monthly expenses and have a willingness to partner with Habitat to build their home and support the Habitat mission. Habitat for Humanity of Greater Cincinnati does not discriminate against race, color, religion, sex, familial status or national origin.
Can I apply as a single applicant if I am still legally married?
Married applicants can apply individually, but spouse must be listed on application as member of household, provide all income and asset information, consent to a background check and agree to sign a release of dower at time of home purchase. The spouse, who is not an applicant, will not have their income or debts counted when determining if the applicant meets the ability to pay criteria, but their income and assets will be considered to determine if the household income is within Habitat’s guidelines.
Can I qualify if I have had a foreclosure?
It must be three years from date of foreclosure.
Can I qualify if I have had an eviction?
It must be one year from the date of the completed eviction.
How can I find out what is on my credit report?
You are able to access a free credit report once a year from each of the three reporting agencies: Equifax, Experian, and Trans Union. To obtain a copy of your free credit report, go to the website www.annualcreditreport.com.
What if my credit report shows outstanding collections, debt, bankruptcies, judgments or liens?
Your credit history is a good indicator of your ability to meet your financial obligations and therefore Habitat takes credit reports into account when determining an applicant’s eligibility. We do not use credit scores in our assessment of eligibility; however, we evaluate whether you are timely in paying debts. We carefully review your credit report to see if there are collections, open judgments, or recent bankruptcies/foreclosures.
Bankruptcies and/or foreclosures must have been discharged for 3 years before applying.
Lastly, an applicant’s debt-to-income ratio (DTI) may not exceed 40%.
We will not consider an applicant(s) who has over $2,000 in uncollected, past-due debt. We do require applicants with negative credit accounts (as long as they total under $2,000) to have payment plans in place. We are unable to partner with applicants who have open unpaid judgments or liens.
Can I choose where I want my house to be built?
You must select from build sites that Habitat currently has available for purchase. Please review the list of available build sites under the “BUY A HOME” section. Although these build sites are currently available, we can’t guarantee that they will be available by the time you complete the application process. If you are not interested in one of the available build sites, then please keep checking our website for updated lists as site are added and deleted.