Surprising Ways You Might Qualify for Homeownership

If you’re wondering how to buy a house in Orange County and think you might not qualify, think again! Habitat for Humanity of Orange County offers a path to homeownership with reduced mortgage rates that might be more accessible than you think.


Let’s explore some lesser-known and surprising eligibility criteria, such as income thresholds, credit score requirements, and sweat equity contributions that could help you qualify for reduced mortgage rates and make your dream of homeownership in Orange County a reality!

1.  You’re Within a Certain Income Threshold Based on Your Family Size

Habitat OC homes are available to families who fall within these specific income limits. These numbers, determined by HUD, take into account the number of people in your household and what is currently considered low, very-low, and moderate income based on cost of living in a given area at a given time.



2023-24 Income Guidelines

Household Size








Minimum income required








Maximum income required







Median Income

Minimum income required








Maximum income required









For example, as of the most recent numbers, a family of 4 would need to make at minimum $78,900 and maximum $126,250 a year to qualify for a low-income home. Make more or less than that? You may still qualify for a moderate or very-low income home instead.


To see the full list of income limits based on family size, click here.

2.  You Maintain a Good Credit Score

A good credit score is important for qualifying for a mortgage. Habitat OC considers your credit score, but the specific requirements can vary. Generally, we look for a credit score that demonstrates responsible financial behavior.


Not sure what yours is? You can check your credit score for free here!


If you don’t think your credit score reflects that currently, there are great free local and national options available to help you turn that around. Some examples include SparkPoint OC and Operation Hope.

3.  You’re Willing to Fulfill Sweat Equity Contributions

One unique aspect of Habitat OC’s program is our sweat equity requirement. What is sweat equity, you wonder? It’s your willingness to contribute your time and effort toward building your home or other Habitat homes. That’s right–you could literally help us build YOUR home!


Each adult in your household would just need to complete a certain number of sweat equity hours. For example, those in the low-income bracket, that would mean 250 hours per adult in a new construction home or 100 for a resale home.


We recognize not everyone is able-bodied to work on a construction site, so options also include:

  • Attending Habitat classes
  • Working in the Habitat office
  • Attending special events
  • Working in one of our two ReStore locations in Santa Ana and Anaheim


Think You Might Qualify? Here’s How Much House You Can Afford


So you’re within the income thresholds, you have a good credit score, and you’re willing to work. Now that you potentially qualify, how much house can you get?


That can be hard to answer, as Habitat OC tailors the sales price of your home to your income, and the cost of homes can vary depending on location.


Let’s break it down based on some example Habitat homes:


Low-Income Home Square Footage

  • Irvine: 1,169 – 1285 Sq. Ft
  • Fullerton: 1,250 – 1,300 Sq. Ft


Moderate-Income Home Square Footage

  • Washington Street, Santa Ana: 1430 Sq. Ft
  • Lacy Street, Santa Ana: 1,550 – 1,850 Sq. Ft
  • Stanton: 1,428 Sq. Ft.


To get a better idea of what our homes look like, you can take a virtual tour of one of our Habitat homes in Stanton here!

I’m Interested! What’s Next?


We’re so glad you’re interested and ready to make your dream of homeownership a reality!


Sign up for a homebuyer orientation today to learn more and start your journey to home ownership with Habitat OC!

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