Would You (or someone you know) Like to Own Your Home?
Palouse Habitat for Humanity builds safe, decent, affordable housing for families in need on the Palouse. We build houses where we can find affordable or donated land in Latah County, ID and Whitman County, WA.
Our Site Selection Committee finds and determines the location of the home. Our Homeowner Selection Committee runs the application screening process and recommends an applicant to the Board of Directors.
Habitat home ownership is a serious commitment. The process can take over a year from start to finish.
Income Range 2022 based on Household Size
1 person $16,664 - $44,436
2 people $19,044 - $50,784
3 people $21,425 - $57,132
4 people $23,805 - $63,480
5 people $25,709 - $68,558
6 people $27,614 - $73,637
7 people $29,518 - $78,715
8 people $31,423 - $83,794
Contact us or call the office at 208-883-8502. Palouse Habitat typically opens its application period in late August, about 8 months before the home build is scheduled to start. If we are not taking applications at that time you call, staff can take your name and information to contact you when the application period opens. Please see the Executive Director for questions. Keep checking this page for more information on the application process.
A completed application form with all the supporting documents, including two most recent months of bank statements and pay slips, and two years of taxes. The form asks for a summary of all income and expenses, and a statement outlining need. If the application meets the initial requirements of need, ability to pay, and willingness to partner, Palouse Habitat will pull a credit report, run a background check, and interview landlords and employers.
There are three main criteria to apply for a Habitat Home: ability to pay, need for housing, and willingness to partner with Habitat. To qualify you must have live currently in Whitman or Latah County; be living in inadequate housing (some examples: high rent, overcrowding, structural issues, high power bills); and be willing to fulfill partnership obligations, including working 300-500 hours of sweat equity helping to build your home. The number of sweat equity hours required depends on the number of adults in your household.
Your income must fall within 30-80% of Area Median Income for Latah & Whitman Counties according to the Housing and Urban Development Administration (HUD). The specific amounts change each year and vary depending on family size. See the chart above for this year's numbers.
Palouse Habitat does not require specific credit scores or perfect credit history. However we cannot build with individuals or families who have filed bankruptcy within the past three years, have over $2,000 in charge offs or would have over 43% in debt to income ratio with a Habitat home added to their expenses.
If your application meets the initial criteria, a selection committee member will review your credit history and check references, and assess your debt to income ratio. The total ratio of debts to income cannot be over 43%.
Examples of income Palouse Habitat will consider when determining if your income meets our range: income from annual or seasonal employment, disability, child support, food stamps and other government assistance. Employment must be reasonably expected to continue for two years. However, when determining debt to income ratio, any income dedicated to a specific purpose, such as food stamps, cannot be considered.
No, there is no application fee. However, we do ask our homeowners to save a share of the closing costs.
Palouse Habitat escrow payments are set based on 30% of the gross monthly pay of the homeowner at time of application.
Habitat requires that a future homeowner contribute $1000 towards closing costs, which can be saved in monthly payments during the home build.
See packet for more details.
Habitat offers an affordable, zero interest mortgage based on the homeowner's income.
Once the home is finished and the future homeowner has completed their obligations (including sweat equity hours, trainings, and $1000 saved towards closing costs), Habitat will prepare to sell the home to the future homeowner.
The home will be appraised by a certified professional to determine its value. The homeowner will receive a copy of the appraisal. The homeowner will secure homeowner’s insurance. Before the final closing date, Palouse Habitat staff will meet with the future homeowner to ensure all elements are in place, to verify the mortgage amount, and to walk the homeowner through the paperwork associated with sale of the home.
At closing (purchase of the home), the homeowner and Palouse Habitat staff will meet at a local escrow company. The escrow company will set up an account to manage the mortgage, property tax, and homeowner insurance payments in one monthly payment. The first year of insurance and taxes will be included in the escrow account.
Palouse Habitat has a two-tier mortgage. The 1st mortgage is set so that the monthly escrow payment equals 30% of the household’s monthly gross income over a 30-year mortgage. Interest is 0% so long as payments are current.
Note that, while the mortgage payment will remain the same, over time insurance and taxes may increase, so the total escrow payment may increase.
If the Palouse Habitat homeowner sells the home or if title is transferred in some other way (for example if the homeowner passes away and the home is transferred to heirs) the balance of the 1st and the entire 2nd mortgage must be paid to Habitat.
When that happens, Palouse Habitat and the homeowner share 50/50 in any appreciated value (appreciated value is any increase over the initial total value of the home). If the home decreases in value, the homeowner is responsible for any amount due to Habitat.
All Habitat homeowners are required to spend 300-500 hours (depending on the number of adults in the household) helping build their home. This is instead of having to save a down payment, and it is in line with Habitat's "hand up, not a hand out" philosophy. Habitat homes are built with volunteer labor donated by community members. It is appropriate for the homeowner to work alongside those volunteers.
The majority of those hours must be put in on the build site, but Habitat homeowners are also encouraged to volunteer at the store, or elsewhere within Habitat or the community. The volunteering can be done by those living in the home, as long as they are over age 16; a portion can be donated by friends, family, co-workers, etc.
In cases of disability, Habitat will work with the homeowner to design volunteer opportunities tailored to their abilities.
Palouse Habitat will work to accommodate future homeowners with disabilities or physical limitations In the past, we have worked with individuals with varying degrees of ability, and have found ways for them to complete their sweat equity hours.
If you are interested, watch this page for more information.
You can call the office at 208-883-8502 or Contact Us and ask to be on the contact list for when the next search begins.
Please provide your full name, phone, email (if you have it), mailing address, and how you heard about becoming a Habitat homeowner.
We have the home appraised by a professional, independent appraiser to determine market value at time of sale. The homeowner will receive a copy of this appraisal.
Let's assume the home appraises for $300,000, and the homeowner makes $40,000 per year.
The homeowner's gross monthly income is $3333.33, and 30% of that is $1000. Palouse HFH would set the initial escrow payment at $1000/month (which includes the mortgage payment, taxes and insurance). Let's estimate property taxes are $150/month and homeowners insurance is $75/month. That would leave $775 for the mortgage payment.
Habitat would then multiply $775 by 12 months by 30 years, which would give us a first mortgage of $279,000. (It's easy math when it's a 0% interest loan!)
That means the second mortgage would be the difference between the appraised value and the first mortgage, or $21,000.
Let's say 10 years pass and the homeowner wants to sell the home. If the home sells for more than the initial appraisal, it has appreciated. Habitat's formula is to share the appreciated value 50/50. So if it sells for $350,000. The appreciation is $50,000, and Habitat and the homeowner would split that amount, $25,000 each.
Under this 10 year scenario, the homeowner has paid off $93,000 of the first mortgage ($775*12 months *10 years) which leaves $186,000 owed to Habitat on the first note, plus $21,000 on the second, and $25,000 share of the appreciation. Total $232,000. The Homeowner would earn $93,000 + $25,000 = $118,000. That is gross. There are costs for a homeowner to sell a home (realtor fees, closing costs, title insurance, etc) which would come out of that amount.
If the home decreases in value, there are still amounts due to Habitat. Let's say it sells for $250,000 after 10 years. Habitat would still be owed $186,000 balance on the first and $21,000 on the second, a total of $207,000. Sale price minus the amount owed Habitat means the homeowner would make $43,000. There is no appreciation to share. The home would have to sell for close to $200,000 for the homeowner to be "underwater", or to owe more than the house is worth. Unfortunately, that is the risk every homeowner takes. After the 2008 housing crash, it took several years for some homes to regain their value. You can learn more about historic home value trends online.
Some points worth noting:
Paying off the first mortgage doesn't do away with the second. It still comes due when the title transfers to someone else.
The monthly escrow payment starts out at 30% of gross monthly income. But Habitat doesn't guarantee it will stay there. The mortgage payment will never increase, but Habitat doesn't have any control over taxes and insurance. Those payments are likely to go up.
Habitat will require an independent appraisal be done when the homeowner transfers title to ensure Habitat, our donors and volunteers are being treated fairly.
The benefits of a Habitat home include:
-Zero interest loan (a savings of approximately $371,819 in this example)
-every penny goes to building equity in the home
-no down payment (although Habitat homeowners contribute $1000 towards the closing costs)
-affordable monthly payments based on income
-the potential to share in the appreciation and enjoy long-term wealth building
-a safe, new home with a one year warrantee by Habitat