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Homeownership FAQ

Houston County Habitat for Humanity builds homes in partnership with low income working families and the community to build decent, affordable housing.



What is the first step toward Habitat home ownership?

The process of home ownership begins by attending an orientation session.  See the Criteria and Applying page for scheduled orientation sessions.  You can give us your name, mailing address, and phone number by email or call the office 478-328-3388 to receive more information.

What happens at the orientation session?

At the orientation session, volunteers and staff outline the program and selection process.  You are given an application, along with a form requesting additional documents. (Assistance is available after the orientation session.)

Homeowner Selection Committee Members conduct an initial review of the application and may ask for additional information if needed.

How does the selection process work?

The Homeowner Selection Committee will evaluate your financial eligibility (references, verification forms, and a credit report to learn about your credit history).

Close attention is paid to outstanding collections, debts, and any unpaid judgments (judgments must be satisfied before a family may purchase a home).

The Committee is looking for adequate, stable income to ensure you are ready for the financial responsibility of home ownership.

If you meet income and financial requirements, there will be a home visit. Here the Committee is looking at your need for housing and your willingness to be an active partner with Habitat throughout the program.

The Committee then determines your eligibility and presents selected families to the Board of Directors for denial or approval.

What if my credit report shows outstanding collections, debt, bankruptcies, judgments, or liens?

We do not look for perfect credit. We consider the whole picture and look for applicants who are ready to accept the responsibility of home ownership.

At the same time, we do not want to set you up for failure by putting you in a home that you cannot afford or in a situation where you cannot be a successful home owner.

For a complete list of requirements, see our information packet.

What can I do to prepare for applying?

You are highly encouraged to develop a plan of action to resolve outstanding credit issues.
In order to prepare for home ownership, you can begin by cleaning up your credit report, seeking free financial counseling, and attending the required First Time Home Buyer Class. See the Other Community Resources page for contact information.

How long does the process take?

The process from beginning to moving into the home can take from 12 to 24 months or more depending on construction schedules and your credit situation.

After you have attended an orientation session, it takes three to four months to go through the selection process.

Once approved for the program, you begin earning your "Sweat Equity" hours by contributing to the construction on other Habitat homes, volunteering at the ReStore, completing homeowner workshops, and other approved activities. Throughout this process, you should be saving for closing costs. It usually takes over a year to complete and move into your new home.

What does "need for housing" mean?

"Need for housing" consists of the following:

  • Substandard Housing: Has issues that create health and/or safety problems (mold, unsafe neighborhood, poor heating, or plumbing, etc.), or too few bedrooms for the number, ages, and gender of household members.
  • Temporary Housing: Temporary living arrangements or transitional/subsidized housing.

  • Housing that is too expensive: 50% or more of the income is being spent for total housing costs (rent and necessary utilities, i.e., water, sewer, trash removal, gas, and electricity).

  • Resides in government-subsidized housing: Housing Authority or Section 8

What is Sweat Equity?

"Sweat Equity" is the time and effort you contribute toward the purchase of you home through the construction of others' homes as well as your own. It is a central principle in Habitat's mission of building community and partnering with families to provide "not a hand-out, but a hand-UP!"

Following approval of the Homeowner Selection Committee, you must complete the required number of sweat equity hours, but more important than the number of hours, is your consistent, active participation on the jobsite. In fact, most families far exceed the minimum required numbers of hours (400-500 hours depending on household size).

What if I don't know anything about construction?

We do not require any previous skills or knowledge. "Sweat Equity" is an exciting learning experience in which you work with your family, friends, and community to build other families' homes as well as your own. Working alongside volunteers and future neighbors to build your home and community is one of the most unique, empowering, and rewarding aspects of Habitat for Humanity.

If I'm denied, can I reapply?

Absolutely. The Homeowner Selection Committee will provide you with the tools and resources that are available to help you improve your financial status.

Some of our homeowner families were denied the first time due to outstanding collections and debts, income below our limits, recent bankruptcies, or other issues. They successfully improved their eligibility, reapplied, and were accepted into the program.

 
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