STEP 1: Do You Qualify?
Review the qualification criteria:
- Do you meet eligibility requirements? (see Qualifying for Homeownership page)
- Do you currently live in inadequate housing and/or
- Do you pay more than 40% of your income for shelter?
- Are you able to reliably pay $1,200-$1,800/month for housing?
- Are you willing to participate in the Habitat for Humanity program?
STEP 2: Attend a Homeowner Information Meeting
Click here to register to attend a Homeowner Information Meeting.
It is highly recommended (although not required) that you attend a Homeowner Information Meeting to learn more about Essex County Habitat’s Homeownership program. During this meeting you will:
- Receive information on how our Homeownership program works
- Learn more about the criteria that must be met to qualify for a Habitat home
- Learn about where we are building and where the selected families will be living for this application cycle
- Get answers to your questions about the Habitat program
STEP 3: Fill Out and Submit Your Application
Securely submit your application and required documents.
For a full list of documents to submit with your application, please see the Homeowner Application page.
All forms need to be completed and signed within 30 days of receiving the application or two weeks before the first Family Selection Committee meeting, whichever comes first. Essex County Habitat for Humanity reviews your application and calculates the applicant(s) income, applicant(s) debt, and conducts a credit check of everyone who will be on the mortgage. If you meet the guidelines and qualify, the applicant(s) will receive a phone call from a Family Selection Committee member to move to the next step.
What if I don’t qualify?
If applicants do not meet Essex County Habitat for Humanity financial and credit criteria and are not accepted into the program, you will receive a letter within 30 days with a description of the reason for the denial, who to contact to receive a free copy of their credit report, and a referral to a credit counseling service, if necessary.
STEP 4: Home Assesment and Interview
Financially qualified applicants will be contacted either by the Family Services Coordinator or a Family Services Committee (FSC) member to schedule a home assessment visit. Two home assessment visits take place at the applicant(s) current permanent residence to assess their housing need and willingness to partner and take on the responsibilities of Essex County Habitat’s homeownership program.
All applicants, including all members of their household, will be interviewed by two members of the Family Selection Committee during the home assessment visit. The approximately 30-minute interview provides an opportunity for an applicant and his/her family to explain:
- Their interest in Essex County Habitat for Humanity
- Their need for affordable housing
- Why they believe they should be selected as a Habitat homeowner
It also provides an additional opportunity for applicants to ask questions concerning the program, the application process, selection process, build process, and any other questions you may have.
STEP 5: Application Review and Recommendation
- The Essex County Habitat for Humanity Family Services Committee (FSC) reviews the application, documentation, and interview evaluations of the applicant(s) to ensure all requirements have been met.
- The FSC presents the recommended families to the Board of Directors of Essex County Habitat for approval to become homeowners for the houses being built in the application cycle.
- If there are more approved applicants than available properties during the application cycle, all approved applicants get entered and chosen through a publicly held lottery system.
STEP 6: Congratulations, Your Partnership with Habitat Begins!
If you are chosen as a Habitat Future Homeowner, you will be notified by phone.
The start of the Habitat Partnership begins with signing a Partnership Agreement Letter (PAL). The PAL outlines the expectations for both selected partner families and for the affiliate. This does not mean that the applicant(s) OWNS the home. ALL requirements must be met, including, but not limited to:
- Maintaining good credit standing
- Completion of all Sweat Equity hours (240-360 hours helping to build your home).
- Completion of all mandatory classes including a First Time Homebuyers Course, Financial Literacy Course, and/or any other classes deemed necessary, before applicant(s) can close on the home.
Please note: Forty five (45) days prior to home closing, all financials, credit-worthiness and ability-to-pay will be re-evaluated.
Additionally, selected homeowners are required to:
- Pay closing costs estimated at $5,000.
- Participate in the management of a condominium association where applicable.
- Participate and support Habitat events and programs.
The entire homeownership process, from submitting your completed application, to completing the sweat equity requirements, to moving in, can take anywhere from 12 to 18 months or longer, depending on delays due to inclement weather, utility service and installation, and the scheduling of required city inspections.
If an applicant’s financial situation changes (for the better, or for the worse) please contact the Family Services Coordinator immediately via email at email@example.com or via phone at 978-681-8858 for financial reevaluation to ensure qualification for the program.
If Denied, Can I Reapply?
We encourage any and all denied applicants to take the steps to improve their eligibility as it was explained to them in their letter of non-qualification (see above: What if I Don’t Qualify?) and reapply during another application cycle. Applicants must wait at least one (1) year to reapply if denied due to credit issues. All applicants, regardless of the reason for denial, will have to go through all the steps listed each time an application is submitted.
We DO NOT have a waiting list for homeownership. The application and build process will vary depending on the availability of properties.