Habitat selection criteria

Habitat selection criteria

Program Overview

To qualify, applicants must meet the residency requirements and all three selection criteria: 

  1. Need
  2. Willingness to Partner
  3. Ability to Pay

Residency Requirements

  • Must be a U.S. citizen or permanent legal resident.
  • Must be living or working within Minnehaha, Lincoln, or Turner county for the past 12 consecutive months.

Need Criteria

  • Income must fall within Habitat’s income guidelines.
  • Must have a housing need, such as:  current housing is unaffordable, inadequate, unsafe, temporary, subsidized, or applicants cannot qualify for a mortgage loan.

Willingness to Partner Criteria

  • Must notify Habitat of any changes to the household size or any changes to employment, income, or debt that occur during the housing and loan application processes.
  • Must earn 300 hours of sweat equity* (per household) before becoming eligible to purchase a home. Friends, family, and community members can donate hours to help you achieve this goal.
  • Must attend required homebuyer education classes.
  • Willing to accept the neighborhood and lot assignment that is offered by Habitat. The budget, floor plan, building materials, and style of the home are determined by Habitat.*
  • Willing to make monthly mortgage payments and be responsible for all home maintenance and repairs after the home purchase.

*Reasonable accommodations or modifications for ADA are handled on a case-by-case basis.

Ability to Pay – Financial Criteria

  • Income: From initial application to loan closing, applicant(s) must maintain an annual gross income that meets the minimum income requirement.
  • Credit Score: Minimum 580, for applicants with established credit. Applicants with no credit/invisible credit must have at least three sources of verifiable 12-month payment history (rent, utilities, etc.)
  • Debt-to-Income: Monthly debt payments cannot be more than 15% of gross monthly income. For student loan debt in deferment or forbearance, 0.5% of the loan balance will be counted toward monthly debt. Example: $50,000 loan balance = $250 monthly debt payment.
  • Derogatory Debt: Outstanding debt in collections, judgments or county aid liens cannot exceed $3,000 total, and all derogatory debt must be paid in full before home purchase.
  • Savings: Able and willing to save at least $2,000 to cover closing costs.
  • Bankruptcy: Minimum of 2 years since bankruptcy discharge, with good payment history since bankruptcy discharge.

Need Help Evaluating Your Income, Credit or Debt?

1. This calculator tool can help you calculate your income.

2. This calculator tool can help you determine whether your monthly debt exceeds 15% of your monthly income.

3. You can request a free copy of your credit report every 12 months from each credit reporting company. To order your free credit report, visit annualcreditreport.com or call 1-877-322-8228. For more information, watch this video.

4. If you have unpaid judgments or county aid liens, they will not show up on your credit report, but Habitat still includes the balance of judgments and county aid liens in your derogatory debt calculations. To learn how to do a search for unpaid judgments or liens against you, review these instructions.