By Leah Ballard | Habitat for Humanity of Archuleta County
Throughout the summer, Habitat for Humanity of Archuleta County Executive Director Lori Henricksen and Homeowner Services Coordinator Leah Ballard met with 2023 Habitat Homeownership Program applicants to determine financial ability and readiness for homeownership in our community.
By the end of June, applicants had completed a mortgage application and supplied all required supporting documentation for a U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development loan — which includes obtaining their own consumer credit report. The process to receive a home mortgage through the USDA is more thorough than a conventional mortgage qualification, but offers advantages for homebuyers in rural communities.
Habitat Archuleta is one of few Rural Development loan-packaging offices on the Western Slope of Colorado. In years past, Habitat Archuleta has packaged Rural Development loans for applicants purchasing existing homes in La Plata, Montezuma and Archuleta counties in addition to our annual Habitat builds.
The USDA will fund primary home purchases throughout all of Archuleta County and much of the Four Corners area. Because qualified applicants can obtain 100 percent financing without having to pay monthly mortgage insurance, the loans are similar to those offered by Veteran’s Affairs except income limits apply on Rural Development loans.
Direct loans come with an optional repayable subsidy, and 33- and 38-year terms accommodate lower allowable debt ratios than conventional loans.
The USDA Direct Loan program closely matches the workforce homeownership goals that Habitat Archuleta holds, as the income limit is capped at 80 percent of area median income as defined by HUD. For a household of up to four people in Archuleta County, that annual income cap for this year is $57,750. For households of five to eight people, the annual income cap is $86,800.
It is not a hard-and-fast income limit as various deductions apply, so don’t let that number stop you if you’re interested in homeownership.
Even if you aren’t pursuing a Habitat home in Pagosa Springs, you can still contact our office for information on obtaining a construction or mortgage loan, credit counseling or homebuyer education.
Our Habitat application process begins more than a year in advance. This year, those not selected to be Habitat homeowners may still pursue a USDA direct loan for use in the conventional real estate market. Applicants receive a certificate of eligibility from the USDA for a determined maximum purchase price before going out to look at properties.
The pursuit of homeownership can be a steep learning curve for many. Our office has been able to increase our capacity by utilizing funds from the American Rescue Plan Act, which our county commissioners dedicated to affordable homeownership in Archuleta County. Thanks to those funds, we have a dedicated Homeowner Services coordinator to help dissolve the mystery of credit worthiness for the wider community.
If you have questions on homeownership or want to get involved, contact us.
Starting Sept. 23, we’ll be on the job site Tuesday through Saturday from 8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. to get done before the snow flies. Please call (970) 264-6960 or email office@HabitatArchuleta.org before you arrive so we can plan for how many hands will be on deck.