By Louisa May
Habitat for Humanity affiliates across the nation are gearing up for a busy week of home building. But much work has already taken place behind the scenes. Land has been secured, house plans and permits have been obtained by HFH affiliates, and agreements have been made. While the builders work in partnerships with Habitat for Humanity, home buyers agree to provide sweat equity hours outside the build week. In exchange for providing these hours, buyers have an opportunity to purchase a home for little money down and obtain a loan that is interest free.
Habitat’s focus is on building, but due to the recent foreclosure crisis, some Habitat affiliates are beginning to offer financial education and training classes for their clients in order to help them avoid the pitfalls of doing business with predatory lenders. Because Habitat buyers obtain their loans at 0% interest, homeowners may be bombarded with calls from such lenders offering refinance packages that come complete with a plethora of hidden penalties and fees. Habitat owners saying yes to these offers could lead to their eventually facing foreclosures.
It’s a bad idea to refinance on an interest free loan, but not everybody has the financial savvy to see what a good package Habitat for Humanity has already put together for them. And although foreclosures sometimes occur on Habitat homes, the national rate of foreclosure is under 2%.
While Habitat for Humanity groups can obtain land at better prices when they bid on a foreclosure in a neighborhood, the emphasis is on helping deserving people find homes, not on profiting from foreclosures. Neighborhoods are created and stabilized where Habitat builds. Not only to showcase their own skills, but in the interest of improving quality of life in communities, builders maintain high standards.
During this year’s Home Builders’ Blitz week, the Battle Creek, Michigan area HFH is building one home on the same street where they built two others during the 2006 Builders’ Blitz. Battle Creek HFH has built over 100 homes since its beginning in 1989, and the most recent homes are Five Star Energy and “green”.
Closer to home, my home that is, Blue Spruce Habitat in the mountain community of Evergreen, Colorado is taking part in their first Builders’ Blitz this year, although it is running a little later (September) than the National Blitz. Five local builders have combined efforts to build a two unit duplex for two families. This duplex will be the first of fourteen homes to be built in a new community developed by Blue Spruce Habitat in Kittredge. Blue Spruce HFH has built over twenty-one homes since its inception in 1999.
Many states have multiple Habitat Builders’ Blitz projects taking place during the first week of June and some area groups have ongoing projects throughout the year. If you’d like to get involved or find a Home Builders’ Blitz project in your area, check out the Habitat website at www.habitat.org.
Check out our Green Pages for information on money saving tips that help the environment. Once there, click on the Green Forum to see more articles by our green feature writer Louisa May.
American Apartment Owners Association offers discounts on products and services related to your commercial housing investment, including real estate forms, tenant debt collection, tenant background checks, insurance and financing. Find out more at www.joinaaoa.org.
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