Becoming a Habitat partner home buyer
When you qualify for Habitat’s home ownership program, you will become a partner home buyer. Before you can purchase your home, you’ll be required to contribute a minimum of 500 hours of volunteer time, called Sweat Equity.
What counts as sweat equity?
- Volunteer work on the job site, at the Habitat Store, or in the Habitat affiliate office
- Appearing and helping out at Habitat’s public events and fundraisers
- Taking homeownership and financial classes required by Habitat for Humanity
- Partner home-buyer children can also get hours by receiving good grades at school
How to get credit for your sweat-equity hours
You must do the following to get credit for your sweat-equity hours:
- 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 Home buyers 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 home buyers 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 might re-examine your eligibility for home ownership.
- 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 on the job site, at the Habitat 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 might affect your ability to keep up with your sweat-equity hours, it is important that you let your Home Owner Advocate and/or the Habitat office know as soon as possible. We will work with you as best we can to make sure you maintain your eligibility for Habitat financing.
What to do if your finances change
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 Home Ownership.
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 Home Buyers 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 no longer meets our standards, your eligibility will be re-evaluated.
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. Habitat for Humanity in Whatcom County has a strict policy regarding criminal convictions.
Habitat reserves the right to re-check partner home-buyer members while they are completing their sweat-equity hours. If a partner home-buyer member receives a felony conviction, they might give up their eligibility to purchase a Habitat home.
Work with your Homeowner Advocate
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 the following:
- What your obligations are as a partner home buyer
- You have all the information and training, including financial literacy, that you need to be a successful Habitat homeowner
- You’re able to keep up with your sweat-equity requirements, and maintain your eligibility
- You’re being treated fairly and respectfully by all Habitat staff
We want our partner home buyers 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 home buyer, we encourage you to talk about it with your Homeowner Advocate to make sure every issue gets resolved.