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Frequently Asked Questions for Homeownership

What does it take to become a Habitat homeowner?

There are three basic requirements:
1) You must currently be living in inadequate housing
2) You must meet minimum income guidelines dependent upon family size
3) You must be willing to participate in the process

What is inadequate housing?

There is no single definition. It could be housing with little or no insulation, lots of people crowded into a small space, structural problems, neighborhood problems, or housing that is too expensive for one’s budget. One key question to ask yourself is “Would other people choose to live here in these conditions?”

What do I count in figuring my income?

All forms of income are included when figuring your income. You can count Child Support (if you receive it regularly), Food Stamps, and government payments in addition to W-2 wages and self-employment income.

What if my income does not reach the minimum income limit?

It is estimated that families meet minimum income guidelines to become a successful homeowner and meet the house payments, utility bills, and household expenses. If you are not too far from this minimum goal, please come in and we will evaluate your situation.

How will I need to participate?

Your participation starts long before you actually move into a house. You will attend classes in home ownership and budgeting. Women will be required to attend the Life Skills for Women Workshop. We will expect you to participate in the publicity for the building of your house and to actually work on your house and other homes in order to meet requirements for your sweat equity. We also ask you to let others know about Habitat for Humanity.

What is sweat equity?

Sweat equity is credit you are given for doing Habitat-related work and attending classes. Each homeowner must earn 200 hours of sweat equity before moving into a house. A married couple needs 400 hours of sweat equity. Friends can help the family earn a portion of their sweat equity.  A Habitat advocate is assigned to each family the help them through the process of earning sweat equity and preparing to move into their new home.

How can I earn sweat equity hours?

Most sweat equity hours are earned by working at construction sites. Additional hours can be earned by volunteering time at our warehouse and/or office.

How much does it cost to buy a Habitat house?

You will need a down payment consisting of the cost of property insurance. The monthly cost for the house is in the $350-400 range. Your payment includes taxes and insurance. You will make the payments for 20 - 30 years, after which the house will belong to you.

Who pays to build each house?

Habitat for Humanity of Grant County works with faith communities, businesses, and other organizations and individuals to sponsor the building of each house. These sponsors contribute a donation that goes towards buying materials for the house and/or volunteer skilled and unskilled workers to build the house they sponsor. Habitat homeowners also work with this construction team. Additionally, monthly mortgage payments from current Habitat homeowners are recycled and go toward the building of new homes, meaning that these homeowners also help to sponsor each house. Other funding comes from grants and corporate and individual donations.

How does the mortgage work?

In the normal course of things, a house built by Habitat for Humanity of Grant County will appraise for around $85,000. Your payments will be based on the actual cost to build the house, which is in the $60,000 - $80,000 range, depending on the cost of the land and the size of the house. This will be your first mortgage. In addition to your first mortgage, you will have a second mortgage for the difference between the cost to build and the appraisal value. You will not have to make any payments on that second mortgage as long as you continue to live in the house and pay regularly on your first mortgage. Habitat for Humanity of Grant County will forgive your second mortgage a year at a time over the life of your first mortgage.

What kind of interest rate do I pay on the mortgage?

Habitat for Humanity does not charge interest. All of your payments go toward paying off the loan principal, taxes, and insurance.

How do I get started?

The first step is to fill out an application. You can get the application by scheduling an appointment at our office located at 816 S. Branson St. Marion, Indiana.

What kind of information is involved with the application?

  1. You will be asked to provide financial information (copy of tax return, copies of pay stubs, listing of monthly expenses, etc.).
  2. You will be asked to sign a permission form to run a police check.
  3. You will be asked to get a credit report.
  4. You will be asked to provide reference from your landlord and the utility companies.

What happens after the application has been completed?

Habitat for Humanity will examine your application and the accompanying documentation to see if you can financially afford to make the payments on a Habitat house. You will be interviewed at your current place of residence, and a report on the condition of your house will be prepared. You will meet with an advocate  who will offer suggestions on ways to improve your financial circumstances. When all of the information is together, a report on your situation will be presented to the Habitat for Humanity of Grant County Board of Directors. Then, the Board will vote on your application.

Once I am accepted, how long will it take to get a house?

Before you can move into a Habitat house, you must complete your required hours of sweat equity. You can expect to wait about a year before your house is built.

Do I have any choices about my house?

Yes, you do. Habitat for Humanity offers a variety of floor plans and home features from which you may choose. . In addition, we have building lots located throughout Grant County. You may either choose one of them or wait until we find one in the area you would prefer.

What if I already own land?

If the land is an acceptable building site, we will ask you to sign the land over to Habitat for Humanity. We will then build on your land and include the cost of the land as part of your financial contribution to the build. This will reduce the amount that you have to pay. Once the mortgage is paid off in full, you will own the house and the land.

Does it matter if I don’t live in Grant County?

Yes, it does. Preference is given to people who are already living in Grant County. There are Habitat for Humanity organizations in all of the surrounding counties, so you should apply to the organization in the county in which you live.

What if I need or want to sell my house?

We want to build homes for people to live in and have safeguards against those who would attempt to sell a home to make a profit. We do have guidelines for the ethical sale of a home. These details will be discussed during your orientation

My living situation is really bad, and I need help, but I don’t have enough money to qualify. How can you help me?

Habitat for Humanity is based upon helping people to be able to buy their own houses. As such, there are financial requirements, which must be met. If you don’t meet our requirements, you need to contact government or social organizations, which could help.

Habitat for Humanity of Grant County

816 South Branson Street

PO Box 687

Marion, IN  46952