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Frequently Asked Questions

How long does the process take?
Building and buying a home is not a quick process.

The application process generally takes 2-5 months, depending on how quickly the applicant is able to submit their supporting documentation. Note: It is important to note that the entire process from application to purchase of home can take anywhere from a few months to up to two years.

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. If the requested information is not provided by the deadline date, your application will be denied. If it is provided, we will determine if you are to be interviewed or denied within 30-days of receiving your required documentation.

3)    Your application has been reviewed and denied. The notice of adverse action will list the reason(s) that your application was denied.

Is there a down payment required?
No. But, each family must pay up to $800.00 towards the first year’s premium for homeowner’s insurance prior to purchasing and moving into their home.

What is sweat equity?
Sweat equity is the single most important strategy Habitat uses to empower future homeowner families and one of the features that sets us apart from other affordable housing providers.

Habitat uses the term “sweat equity” to refer to the hours of labor our homeowners dedicate to building their homes, and the homes of their neighbors, as well as attending homeownership classes and Habitat events. HFHGC homeowners 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, homeowners will work be 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 do I earn sweat equity hours?
The primary way to earn sweat equity hours is by working at construction sites. At least 100 of your hours must be completed on a construction site. Additional hours may be earned by working in the Habitat office, attending Habitat classes, helping at ReStore, and attending special events. Finally, your children can earn hours by getting good grades in school. You are also encouraged to recruit family and friends and the hours they work will count toward your total. Note: You are required to be on your build site each Saturday that your home is under construction, regardless of how many hours you have earned.

How much is the monthly mortgage payment?
The monthly mortgage payment is determined based on each family’s income and the purchase price of their home. Monthly mortgage payments vary depending on the length of the mortgage, but will not be more than 20-30% of a homeowner’s monthly income. Monthly mortgage payments include an escrow for homeowners insurance and taxes.

Payments are approximately $500.00/month. Note: This monthly payment will include taxes and insurance, which are adjusted annually and escrowed, then paid by HFHGC on your behalf.

Do you have a waiting list?
No, we are always accepting applications.

Can I reapply if I am denied?
Absolutely! Sometimes we disqualify people because they have too much debt or they don’t have enough income to qualify for our program. 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 partner families were denied the first 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 Family Services 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 and meet our income guidelines. Qualifying income may include, but is not limited to child support, alimony, SSA, SSI, retirement and income from your employment.

Can only families with children apply?
People qualify for a Habitat home by needing adequate, affordable housing, being able to pay for 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 Centre 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?
No. If you are legally married, Habitat requires that both spouses be part of the application and apply as co-applicants.

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 eviction.

How can I find out what is on my credit report?
How does your credit history look? You can check yours by getting your credit report. You are able to get 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 click on the following link: www.annualcreditreport.com

What if my credit report shows outstanding collections, debt, bankruptcies, judgments or liens?
The Family Services Committee considers the whole picture of an applicant and looks for applicants who are ready to accept the responsibility of homeownership. At the same time, we do not want to sell an applicant a home that she or he cannot afford. We do not expect applicants to have a perfect credit history. However, we will not consider an applicant who has over $2,000.00 in uncollected, past-due debt. We do require applicants with negative credit accounts (as long as they total under $2,000.00) to have a plan to fix any outstanding collections or past-due items. We are unable to partner with applicants who have active, unpaid judgments or liens.

What if I’m not financially ready to apply?
Homeownership is a huge responsibility. Habitat’s goal is to help you become not just a homeowner, but a successful homeowner. If homeownership is your ultimate goal, but you’re not quite financially ready to apply, below are some tools that can help. If you are concerned about your credit history and/or debt load, please check local agencies that that can help you get control of your finances and repair your credit by checking out Alternative Resources.

Can I choose where I want my house to be built?
Once you are approved, we will offer you a selection of currently available Habitat-owned building lots or homes that are scheduled to be rehabbed. These sites will be located throughout our entire area. You will not have the option of searching for a site on your own that is not currently owned and offered to you by HFHGC. If we are not able to match you with a suitable build site within 12 months, you will be de-selected from our program.

What size house can I buy?
Our homes are typically three to four bedrooms, both in one-story and two-story models. Habitat will choose the design of the house in accordance with the size of the lot and available funding.  When offered a build site, families will be given specifics for each build site available.

Can you build on land I already own?
Possibly. Regardless of whether or not a family owns land they would like us to build on; they must go through the application process first. If accepted, then we will look at the family’s land and see if it is possible for us to build on it.However, you will have to deed the property over to Habitat for Humanity of Greater Cincinnati and we will have to ensure it is a buildable lot. If you default on your mortgage, the house and the land return to Habitat for Humanity.

Can I use my section 8 voucher?
Yes. A homebuyer receiving the Housing Choice Voucher will have the option of using it toward his/her mortgage payments. However, it is the responsibility of the homebuyer to work with their Public Housing Authority to ensure your continued eligibility. Please note that your voucher assistance is not guaranteed to supplement your mortgage payments. Should your voucher cease at any time, you are responsible for the full payment.

Can I apply if I own a business?
Yes. Your complete income tax records for the previous two years will be evaluated closely to ensure that you meet the income minimum and do not exceed the maximum income for your family size.

If I already own my home and it needs repairs, can Habitat fix it up?
Possibly, we have a home repair and loan program for Veterans of the Armed Forces. You can learn more about that by checking out his link.

Has Habitat ever foreclosed on a house?
Yes, unfortunately, we have. You will purchase your home from us, and we expect you to make timely monthly mortgage payments. If you do not make your payments for three consecutive months or more, Habitat may begin foreclosure. Your payments are important because they help fund homes for future families.