When you qualify for Habitat’s homeownership program, you will become a Partner Homebuyer. Before you can purchase your home, you’ll be required to contribute a minimum of 500 hours of volunteer time, called Sweat Equity.
(Those getting repairs will have a smaller Sweat Equity requirement)
What counts as Sweat Equity?
- Volunteer work on the job site, at the Habitat Store, or in the Habitat office
- Appearing and helping out at Habitat’s public events and fundraisers
- Taking homeownership and financial classes required by Habitat for Humanity
- Partner Homebuyer children can also get hours by receiving good grades at school!
How to make sure you get your Sweat Equity Hours-and get credit for them! (need to print a new tracking sheet? Download one here.)
- 250 of your Sweat Equity hours are “Individual Hours” and must be completed by those who will live in the home.
- The other 250 hours are “Group Hours,” and can be contributed by your extended family, friends, co-workers or church members.
- Partner Homebuyers are asked to call the Habitat office each week to let us know if and when they plan to volunteer at the job site, store or office.
- It is expected that Partner Homebuyers will complete an average of at least 24 Individual Hours each month. If you cannot complete 60 Individual Hours in a 3-month period, Habitat may re-examine your eligibility for homeownership.
- Make sure you keep track of your Sweat Equity hours on your own blue hour tracking sheet. ALSO make sure to sign in and out on Habitat’s blue Sweat Equity sheet when you are the job site, at the store, or in the office. It’s important that both you and Habitat are tracking your hours so we can make sure you get credit for all of them!
- If you have any circumstances in your life, such as illness or needing to work extended hours at your job that may affect your ability to keep up with your Sweat Equity, it is important that you let your Homeowner Advocate and/or the Habitat office know as soon as possible. We will try to work with you as best we can to make sure you don’t lose your eligibility for Habitat financing.
Changes in Income/Employment/Debt
If you lose a job, get a new job, or experience any change in income, it is important to let your Homeowner Advocate and/or the Habitat office know as soon as possible.
Also let us know if you are considering a major purchase. Going into debt for a car or appliance, etc. will affect your credit, debt-to-income ratio, and may impact your eligibility for Habitat’s 0% financing.
Also let us know if you are facing significant medical expenses. Habitat considers medical debt more leniently than consumer debt. We will do our best to help you keep your eligibility for Habitat financing if someone in your family is facing a health crisis.
It is important for Partner Homebuyers to pay all their bills on time and avoid increasing their debt or doing anything that might significantly damage their credit rating.
Habitat will check your credit when:
- You first apply to become a homeowner,
- When your Sweat Equity is half complete
- Before you close on your home.
If your credit score falls below what is acceptable, you may lose your eligibility
Habitat performs background checks and sex offender checks on all members of the applicant’s household who are ten years of age or older. It is Habitat for Humanity in Whatcom County’s policy not to accept any applicants who have been convicted of a sex crime and/or who must legally have their name on the national sex offender registry. HFHWC has a strict policy regarding criminal convictions.
Habitat for Humanity in Whatcom County reserves the right to re-check Partner Homebuyer members while they are completing their Sweat Equity. If a Partner Homebuyer member receives a felony conviction, they may lose their eligibility to purchase a Habitat home.
Questions, problems, complaints
Your Homeowner Advocate is a caring volunteer who has been trained to support and assist you during the process of becoming a Habitat homeowner. They’re here to make sure that:
- You understand what your obligations are as a Partner Homebuyer
- You have all the information and training you need to be a successful Habitat homeowner
- That you’re able to keep up with your Sweat Equity requirements and maintain eligibility
- That you’re being treated fairly and respectfully by Habitat staff
We want our Partner Homebuyers to become successful homeowners, and to have a good experience working with Habitat staff and volunteers. If you have any questions, problems, or complaints during your time as a Partner Homebuyer, we encourage you to talk about it with your Homeowner Advocate, to make sure the issue gets resolved.