Homeownership FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions about our Homeownership Program 


Eligibility and qualification

How do I qualify for a Habitat home?
In order to qualify for our program, applicants must be able to afford 70 percent of the appraised value of a home currently in our inventory. We’ve determined this income sets future homeowners up for success in affording the full market value of the homes that Habitat Wake builds, and insulates them from rising property taxes and cost of living. Prior to fall 2020, we evaluated applicants based on where they fell relative to the Area Median Income set by HUD.

Does Habitat Wake give away homes to people who are low-income, disabled or on government assistance?
No. Habitat Wake homeowners build and purchase their homes. To qualify, applicants must have a steady income from working and/or non-working sources and must repay an affordable mortgage with on-time, full payments every month.

Does it cost anything to apply to that Habitat Wake homeownership program? 
No. Our application is free. If you meet the qualifications of the pre-application, you will be asked to cover the cost of a credit check ($40 for individual, $65 for co-applicants) that will determine whether you advance to the next application stage. 

Do I have to have children to qualify for a Habitat Wake home?
No. Habitat is a Fair Housing agency, which means we do not discriminate based on race/color, religion, sex/gender, national origin, disability, or familial status. Individuals, couples, single parents with children, couples with children, etc. may apply for Habitat Wake’s homeownership program.

Can I apply to purchase a Habitat Wake home if I have previously owned property?
Our program is designed for first-time homebuyers who have not yet had access to the equity-building opportunity of owning a home or land. This also applies to former Habitat homeowners who have sold their home.  


Building a Habitat Wake house

If I want more space or bedrooms than Habitat’s guidelines allow, can I select another house plan?
No. Habitat Wake builds houses according to the number of family members in a household. Our homes are affordable, energy efficient and provide adequate living and storage space for most families. Our three-bedroom homes are typically around 1,100 square feet and have two full bathrooms.

Can I have a garage or carport added to a Habitat Wake home?
No. Habitat Wake does not build garages or carports. We purchase lots that are large enough to build a house with a two-car parking pad, but there is no additional room for additional features. Also, the weather in Wake County is typically mild. Many homes in our area have parking pads for vehicles.

If I own land, can Habitat Wake build a house on it?
Maybe. Our program is for first-time homeowners – anyone who has not owned a house in three years, or ever. If you own land in Wake County, we might be able to construct a home on it, but our construction department will need to evaluate the land. However, it is important that you complete the application process and be approved for our homeownership program in the exact same manner as all other applicants. Only after you’ve met our homeownership program criteria will we consider this possibility.

How does Habitat Wake decide where to build? May I ask for a specific location?
Habitat Wake acquires land either through purchase or donation. In addition, within Wake County we have seen escalating land prices, increased house sizes, and reduced land availability, which makes finding and purchasing land even more difficult. Applicants who want to be part of our program will need to be open about the location of their future homes and willing to live where we are currently building. Applicants will need to choose a location based on the current/upcoming construction sites at the time they apply.

How long will it take from application to closing?
Typically, families close and move into their homes about 18 months after their initial application is submitted. Because our program relies on sponsors to fund houses and community volunteers to help construct them, this timeframe is an estimate. This timeframe allows applicants to plan for their move, complete the sweat equity hours required by our program (a minimum of 200), and participate fully in the construction of their homes.

What is sweat equity?
 Sweat equity is the non-monetary investment someone makes in the building process. It’s about doing the hard work to bring an idea to life. At Habitat for Humanity, that means you'll likely spend some times helping build your home or another family's home. It’s not a form of payment, but an opportunity to work alongside volunteers and sponsors to bring a family’s dream of owning a home to life.

Sweat equity can take many forms for partner families working with Habitat: construction work on the build site, volunteering in a Habitat ReStore, assisting in administrative duties, attending an event or more.

This co-working approach informs Habitat’s emphasis on sweat equity: all of us work together so that homeowners can achieve the strength, stability and independence they need to build a better life for themselves and for their families.

Owning a Habitat Wake home

If I buy a Habitat Wake house, can I ever sell it?
Yes. Families and individuals who purchase Habitat Wake homes may sell them at any time. Habitat Wake retains the right of first refusal to repurchase the home as affordable housing stock, and our program includes a shared appreciation rider in which the homeowner shares a percentage of the home’s appreciation with Habitat over a period of 15 years. Learn more about selling your Habitat Wake home

Are there any other restrictions on owning a Habitat Wake home?
Yes. Like all other affordable housing programs, Habitat Wake requires that its houses are occupied by the homeowner. You cannot use your home for business purposes, move out and leave it empty, rent it, or move out and let others live there. After a homeowner has fully paid the mortgage, these restrictions are removed. Habitat Wake requires that the property (house and yard) are maintained in good condition.

If my income increases after I have bought my house, will that affect my status as a homeowner?
No. Habitat Wake encourages all of its homeowners to continually improve their financial status through additional education, training, or job promotions/changes that provide better pay, hours and/or locations. We hope that having a stable home will allow homeowners the time and energy to pursue additional opportunities. We’ve had homeowners who have consistently paid their mortgages, continued to work and returned to school for certifications or degrees to increase their earnings.

What happens if I can’t work due to illness/injury, or have my hours cut, and can’t pay my mortgage?
If homeowners cannot pay their mortgage due to temporary or permanent changes in income. Habitat Wake meets with homeowners to better understand the circumstances, puts plans in place to get payments back on track, and sends monthly letters documenting progress. We work with all of our homeowners who have the commitment, follow-through, and resources to help them keep their houses.