Frequently Asked Questions
1. Am I eligible to purchase an OPAL house?
Go to Are You Eligible? for all the details on eligibility.
2. How much money do I need to put down?
You need at least $1,500 in cash to purchase your home. If you have more money to put down, you may certainly do so.
3. What is the minimum credit score needed to qualify for a mortgage loan?
Lenders generally like to see a credit score of at least 640. If you have no credit score or a lower score, we can build an alternative credit history for you by documenting regular payments for your utilities, insurance, rent, etc. If you have outstanding collections or judgments, contact OPAL staff to work out a plan to improve your credit so you can qualify to buy a home.
4. How much debt can I have and still qualify?
Your total debt payments, including your house payment (principal, interest, taxes, insurance, and lease fee) may not exceed 41% to 44% of your gross monthly income, depending on your mortgage.
5. Can someone inherit my OPAL home?
Yes, as with any real estate, you may bequeath your OPAL home to whomever you wish. If you leave your home to your child, spouse, or someone who has been living with you for the past year, s/he may inherit the home and live in it providing s/he is willing to agree to the terms of the lease. If you bequeath your home to someone else, and that person is income eligible, s/he may also inherit your home and live in it providing s/he is willing to agree to the terms of the lease. If the person you leave your home to is not one of these people or is not income eligible, your estate will sell the house and the person you have designated will receive the money from the sale. As with any real estate, your mortgage will need to be paid off before the house can be transferred to your heirs, so any heirs hoping to keep the house will need to be able to afford a loan of their own to pay for any portion of the mortgage that is still outstanding.
6. What is the minimum amount of time I would need to live in my OPAL home before I could consider selling it?
It depends. Generally it is not a good idea to buy a house if you do not intend to live in it for at least five years. It is expensive to buy and sell real estate; closing costs can range from $6,000 to $9,000, depending on your financing source. So if you purchase a house with only $1,500 of cash, you will be borrowing money through your mortgage to pay for some of your closing costs. This means it will be at least a few years before you have earned enough equity to cover that additional debt. There are also closing costs when you sell. This means you need to live in your house a few more years before you will have earned enough equity to pay your closing costs as the seller.
7. What size house can I buy?
OPAL’s policy is that you can buy a house with one more bedroom than the number of people in your household. However, if an OPAL house is for sale and there is no interested buyer with the correct household size, this restriction may be waived.