Homeownership FAQ

Looking to become a Habitat for Humanity homeowner? Below are some common questions our applicants have. If you do not find answers to your questions below, please contact our homeownership department at homeownership@habitatportlandregion.org

What is Habitat for Humanity Portland Region?

Habitat for Humanity Portland Region, an affiliate of Habitat for Humanity International, develops quality, affordable homes in partnership with qualified homebuyers, and sells those homes to homebuyers with an affordable mortgage loan. 

Habitat is committed to a Portland region that is affordable to families and individuals—not just today, but for generations to come. Our model allows Habitat homeowners to build equity in their homes, while ensuring that the home is affordable to the next buyer. This guarantees affordable neighborhoods into the future.

How does the program work?

Habitat homeowner’s housing payments are kept affordable and set based on their income at the time of sale. This monthly amount will include the primary mortgage payment, homeowners insurance, possible homeowner association dues, interest, and property taxes. Habitat for Humanity provides additional subsidies and/or a second mortgages to cover the difference between what the buyer can afford in a first mortgage and the sales price of the home. Our first mortgages are for 30 years or less depending on the buyer’s affordability. 

How are homes kept permanently affordable?

Our permanent affordability models uses a resale formula that provides sellers with 2% of the sales price each year, plus what they have paid towards their mortgage. This ensures that the homeowner can still build equity while the home remains permanently affordable to the next buyer. This guarantees affordable neighborhoods into the future.

How do buyers qualify?

Habitat for Humanity Portland Region offers affordable homeownership to homebuyers that meet the following program requirements: 

  • First time homebuyer or have not owned a home in the last 3 years.  
  • Steady income and decent credit history. 
  • Household income between 35%- 80% of the Area Median Income for the Portland Metro Area. 
  • Applicants must have a combined annual gross income that is at least $30,000. 
  • 2 years of steady work history for any employment income. 

Annual Gross Income Guidelines

Household SizeMinimumMaxiumum

What is the first step toward purchasing a home?

If you are interested in the Habitat for Humanity program and have reviewed the requirements to see if you qualify, the next step is to submit a pre-application. We only accept applications when we have properties available. 

How are the applicants selected?

Habitat staff and volunteers will review the information from your pre-application and pull your credit history. If your credit information and income meet our minimum requirements, we will invite you to an information session where you will find out more about how our program works and the homes that we currently have available. We will also ask you to gather additional documents and information needed to confirm that the applicant(s) meets all our requirements. It’s important to note that we usually have a larger number of qualified applicants than homes available. Because of this, we are unable to guarantee that an applicant will be selected to join our program even if they meet all our criteria. 

What type of homes does Habitat build or remodel?

We typically build two- to five-bedroom wood frame homes with approximately 900 to 1500 square feet. The square footage and amenities of remodeled homes vary. An electric or gas range, microwave, refrigerator, washer, dryer, and dishwasher are provided with most homes. Often Habitat homes or remodel homes are attached and share walls. Habitat homes can be condominiums, duplexes, multiplexes, or single detached dwellings. 

Do applicants get to choose the location or design of the home?

The location of the home is dependent upon where Habitat is building or remodeling houses. The locations available will usually be discussed during the homeownership application process. Habitat does not build custom homes. Habitat will choose the size of the home based on household size and makeup. We expect two children of the same gender to share a bedroom if they are close in age.

Who can be a part of my household? How is my household size determined?

Only individuals who are currently living in the household can be considered when determining household size and the number of bedrooms the applicant qualifies for. A child is only considered in regard to household size if the applicant has at least 50% custody of that child. We do occasionally make exceptions and definitely want to make sure that household members are not discounted when inappropriate. If a person is pregnant during the application process, the unborn child will be counted towards the household size. Please be sure to explain any household size situations in your application. 

If pre-approved, how long will it take before I purchase a home?

Homebuyers are in the program until their home has been built or remodeled; generally, this takes 12 to 24 months. Ideally, construction of a pre-approved homebuyer’s home begins within six months from the time of approval. Completion dates of the homes will vary and are subject to change. The construction process is complex with many variables including funding sources, the construction schedule and building requirements. This complexity makes it difficult to predict the length of time from pre-approval in the program to purchasing a home. 

What are the program requirements?

Homebuyers complete a total of 200 sweat equity hours. Sweat equity refers to the actual hands-on involvement of Habitat homebuyers in the construction of their own homes, as well as participation in other Habitat and community activities. All sweat equity hours must be completed before pre-approved homebuyers purchase their home. Additional program requirements include homeownership education classes and community engagement events. Class topics include: Financial Readiness, Protecting your Investments, Condos and Homeowner Associations, and Mortgage Education. All classes will be provided by Habitat free of charge.