Become a Habitat Homeowner
Thank you for your interest in becoming a Habitat Homeowner. We believe that everyone should have a safe, decent, and affordable place to call home.
Our Affordable Homeownership Program
We don’t give away free homes; rather, our Affordable Homeownership Program bridges a gap for families unable to afford a traditional mortgage by providing them with the opportunity to purchase their own home.
Families who apply and are accepted to become Habitat Homeowners purchase their home through a no-down-payment, interest-free mortgage geared to their income and contribute at least 500 volunteer hours to Habitat.
Once they move in, Habitat homeowners are responsible for maintaining their own home. We help families and individuals prepare for homeownership by providing homeowner education classes, ranging from financial literacy and budgeting to home-repair and maintenance.
Our path to homeownership requires hard work, time, and dedication, but this helps ensure the long-term success of the families we partner with.
Homeowner Application Process
The applicant submits their initial 'Expression of Interest' using the online form.
Applicants whose Expression of Interest meets the criteria of our Affordable Homeownership Program are contacted to fill out a more in-depth application. Habitat staff are happy to help with this.
Applicants are required to submit a Credit Check - free of charge from Equifax / TransUnion
Application Reviewed by Family Services Committee
Applications that fall within the annual income parameters and pass the credit check will be reviewed by the Family Services Committee
Home Interviews Scheduled
Two home interviews will be conducted. The first home interview is intended to get to know the applicant and their family. The second home interview is to determine the applicant's need for adequate housing and their ability to partner with Habitat.
Recommendation to Board of Directors
An applicant recommendation is made to the Board of Directors by the Family Services Committee
Approval of Homeowner Application
Should they agree with the Family Services Committee's recommendation, the Board of Directors will approve the homeowner application.
Learn more about the Habitat experience from 12 families who have been part of our Affordable Homeownership Program
If you are accepted...
If you are accepted into the program it is important to know in advance what is expected of you. Before you move into your home, we will have some expectations of you and there are a few things that need to be completed.
Letter of Agreement
You will need to sign a Letter of Agreement which summarizes the partnership you’ve entered into with HFHSSMA. It outlines your responsibilities to Habitat and Habitat’s responsibilities to you.
All families must contribute 500 hours of voluntary service to Habitat for Humanity Sault Ste. Marie & Area, the purpose of which is to add value to the organization.
You may enlist the support of family, friends, or other volunteers who have been personally recruited. Recruited individuals cannot be pre-existing volunteers with HFHSSMA. At no time will
You and those volunteering on your behalf can help build your home (and potentially the homes of others). You may also assist at the ReStore or in other capacities within the organization.
Public Relations Work
HFHSSMA asks that, as a homeowner, you advocate for our Affordable Homeownership Program by speaking publicly or writing about your experience with the program and how it has made a difference in your family’s life. This increases awareness within the community of the program and its impact.
You may be asked to speak at public events, including your Groundbreaking Ceremony, Home Dedication Ceremony, and fundraising events.
HFHSSMA will approach you in advance of any necessary public relations work.
You should start saving as soon as you are approved for Habitat’s Affordable Homeownership Program. A good goal would be $1000 - $2000.
There may be other upcoming costs for you associated with moving house, utility company deposits, home insurance, and so forth. When you are ready to sign your mortgage, you will pay approximately $1,000 to cover the legal costs of signing your mortgage.
Even after you’ve moved and signed your mortgage, we recommend you continue to save money (at least $1,000-$2,000 per year) to pay for the costs of maintaining your home.
Homeowner Education Program
As part of your volunteer hours, you are required to complete Habitat’s Homeowner Education Program. You will need to attend each seminar in totality; otherwise, you will have to repeat the whole seminar later.
There are 4 modules, totaling approximately 12 hours:
- Buying and Funding Yours Family’s New Home
- It is important for you to understand the agreement you are entering into with Habitat. In this seminar, the mortgage agreement is broken down to help you understand the details.
- Protecting Your Home and Family
- You will learn about home safety and security.
- Financial Foundations
- You learn about your risks, home insurance, perspective on money, how to evaluate priorities, build a budget, and stick to it.
- You will also learn how to save money and build a stable future for your family.
- Maintaining a Healthy Home
- This module takes place in your home to help you learn the basics of taking care of your home.
- Buying and Funding Yours Family’s New Home
Your Habitat House
Homes are available on a first-come, first-served basis. Your home may be newly constructed, but from time-to-time other partner families “graduate” from our program and sell their homes back to HFHSSMA. These homes are then sold to prospective homeowners and if you are “next in line,” this existing home will be offered to you.
HFHSSMA will confirm the move-in date as early as possible, based on the construction process and/or the availability of a “buy-back” home.
All homes are built to code.
Standard Features in a Habitat Home:
- Gravel driveway
- Seeded or sodded front lawn
- Vinyl siding, vinyl or aluminum framed windows, soffits, fascia, eaves, and downspouts
- Fully painted walls, ceilings, and trim
- One bathroom equipped with standard vanity, tub, toilet, paper holder, towel bars, shower rod, and exhaust fan
- Kitchen equipped with sink, cabinets, laminate countertop, rangehood
- Vinyl/laminate/carpet flooring
- Closets in each bedroom
- Carbon monoxide and smoke detectors
- Roughed-in wiring for phone and cable
- Hot water tank
- Air exchange system
Basic appliances such as a fridge or stove may be provided by HFHSSMA if there is an agreement with a supplier.
We make affordable homeownership accessible by removing barriers that can make owning a home impossible for many low income working families and individuals. Although Habitat homes are sold at fair market value, Habitat homeowners’ monthly mortgage payments are interest-free and set at no more than 30 percent of their gross household income, including principal repayment and property tax. Each year, the gross household income is reviewed and adjustments to the monthly mortgage payment are made based on that income assessment.
What’s NOT included:
- Air conditioning
- Paved driveways
- Garbage disposal units
- Central vacuum or rough-in
- Whirlpool tubs
When you move into your Habitat home you are responsible for home maintenance. It is important that you save for these expenses.
List of common home maintenance issues:
- Replacing the hot water heater on average costs $1,500
- Calling a plumber for toilet or drains issues can cost $80 to $120 per hour
- Blown off shingles can cost between $1,700 and $3,000 depending on the damage and replacement area
- Blown off siding can cost $3 - $10 per installed square foot
- Appliances breakdown and can have a significant cost to repair or replace, such as a new stove for $700 or a new fridge for $1000
You are responsible to cover your home with Home Insurance. In fact, this requirement is included in your legal agreement with Habitat when you sign your mortgage. This means that if you fail to obtain or hold home insurance, you are in default of your mortgage agreement. HFHSSMA will insure the home for the remaining mortgage balance only to protect our interests. Your interests are not covered. Habitat will invoice you for the payment of insurance.
HFHSSMA will register with Tarion Warranty Corporation and provide home warranty coverage.
Each year you will be responsible for checking in with HFHSSMA.