Homeownership FAQs

Thank you for your interest in joining one of the limited-equity housing cooperatives which UHAB supports.  This FAQ will help you in your research about our process.  We look forward to seeing you at our Homeownership Workshop!

Click on any link below to be directed to the answer to your question:

I like what I see on the UHAB website.  How do I apply for a co-op?

UHAB does not have a waiting list.  To join our Interest Pool, you must do two simple things in either order. We require you to submit an application and take an introductory Homeownership Workshop. We will begin to process your application once we receive it and you will be required to have taken the introductory workshop by the time we send you to any building to which you might be eligible. 

How can I figure out if I'm even eligible for any UHAB vacancy?

UHAB begins by looking at four factors:

  • You must meet the income guidelines for a particular building.
  • You must have a credit score high enough to get a loan (if you need one).
  • You must be a first time homebuyer.
  • The maintenance must be affordable to you, and if you need a mortgage as well, the two combined must be affordable to your household's budget.

In addition to being income eligible, you must also have an appropriate family size (for the unit) and a Social Security Number (SSN) or Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN). If you meet these criteria, the chance is good that we will successfully be able to work together. If you need to work on one or more of these factors, we nonetheless encourage you to apply if you are interested in the limited equity co-op model. As you work on improving your credit score, for example, you can also be in our Interest Pool, researching what we have available, and otherwise working with us. UHAB gives a preference to applicants who are residents of NYC. 

Please note:  if you currently own residential property, you will have to provide additional information to us about this property, its tenants (if applicable) and its finances for us to make a determination about eligibility.

We use the HPD and NYCHA standards as guides for household size appropriateness. We do not have the resources to “over-house” because we work with so few units in relation to NYC’s need. We always look at current household size. If however you feel you have extraordinary space requirements, we will review any documentation, verification and back-up you provide. Our review of your documents does not guarantee we will adjust the standards we use.


What income does UHAB evaluate if I am/we are eligible?

UHAB must review all income from all household members.  This includes income from adults and minors, both earned or unearned, whether that household member is buying or simply planning to reside in the unit.  Total household income must be assessed by the co-ops we assist to comply with their legal documents and determine household eligibility.  We ask you for tax returns and proof of current income as part of our review.  We evaluate your gross income earned; not “adjusted gross” income.  We use your income tax returns as a guide of your earning pattern but not a representation for the income you will earn in the year you submit an application to us.  We ask you to provide current paystubs so we can calculate your income in the year you apply.  If you do not have paystubs we will need some alternative such as proof of consulting contracts, an income tally of deposits to your bank account or an income projection letter from an accountant.  If you are completely self-employed we will need a letter from a CPA which projects you income in the year you apply.  

I currently live in Colorado. Can I apply?

UHAB mirrors NYC housing policy by giving a general preference on all projects to current NYC residents. NYC residents would go ahead of NYS residents, who then take priority over people applying from any other state, or elsewhere. 

I see different sales prices and different incomes listed on your materials.  Why?

The co-ops UHAB helps sponsor come from programs to create affordable housing.  As such, the co-ops will have both income rules for people becoming shareholders and caps on the resale prices when shareholders leave. Often, when UHAB is the direct sponsor of a co-op, the income cap will be 80% of the “Area Median Income.”  However, in all cases the income cap will not exceed 120% of the "Area Medium Income” when UHAB is the direct sponsor of the co-op.   Purchase prices are individual to a building and based on that building’s renovation scope and mortgage.  Sometimes UHAB secures a purchase subsidy for future shareholders, which is reflected in a special, reduced purchase price for a building.

When can I see an apartment?

We make every effort to post photos of available apartments on our website.  In addition to that, we will arrange for you to see an apartment when your application is selected for a board interview.

What if an application requirement does not apply to me?  

The application requirements are just that: requirements.  However, if you feel that one does not apply to you, write us a note explaining why, so that we can include it in your application.  Without your explanation, we will consider that document missing on our first review of your application, and ask you to produce it.  This will hold up your application.  But don't worry- if your explanation is unclear or insufficient, we will contact you to clarify.

I am interested, but my credit score is lousy.  What are my options?

We want to fill units with people who want to be shareholders in affordable, resident-controlled co-ops. If you are interested in us, we are interested in you. If your credit score is below 640, we believe it will be difficult for you to secure a loan and purchase. However, you may work on improving your credit and get back to us when it has gotten better. If you do apply, we will keep your application on file for one year.

We also recommend that you reach out to any of the 10 downstate members of the New York Mortgage Coalitionthe BK Co-op Federal Credit Union, Neighborhood Housing Services or the Neighborhood Trust Federal Credit Union, to get homeownership counseling, take classes, and improve your chances of becoming a homeowner.

Don’t give up: we'd love for you to apply again when your score has improved.

My lease is expiring.  How can I get into a co-op before that happens?

We want to help co-op minded, income-eligible people become shareholders in the buildings we work with.  Our process takes the time it takes.  We work as quickly as we can, but we cannot specifically accommodate the deadline of an expiring lease. 

Are these all the buildings you have? When will you get more?

UHAB lists every building with vacancies for which we have permission from the NYS Attorney General to market or which we've been asked to market by the HDFC. We cannot predict when we will have new buildings, but we are working all the time to help buildings prepare for the marketing of any vacant apartments. We recommend that you check our website periodically for new listings. The first place we will publicly “announce” a new building is on the web. 

What if I don't see a building that is right for me right now? 

UHAB works with co-ops and future co-ops with vacant units all the time, so the number of apartments for sale fluctuates.  On your application, please indicate your first and second choice of borough that you prefer to buy in.  As we get new apartments to fill, we will reach out to applicants for the borough they have chosen, based on family size and application postmark.  You may update your preferred borough at any time.

Does UHAB have anything for rent?

UHAB does the initial marketing for some affordable rental buildings in NYC.  In those cases we conduct a lottery which follows NYC’s HPD guideline.  Please consult our website listings for rental lotteries currently open.

I've already taken a Homeownership Class; Why do I have to take UHAB's?

Our one required class is the “Introduction to Limited Equity Co-ops”.  The class describes this type of housing model and history.  The class is not a “homeownership” class in the sense offered by certified homeownership counseling agencies, which UHAB is not.  Our class introduces you to Limited Equity, HDFC Housing cooperatives and is different from anything taught by the City’s housing counseling organizations.  

How soon will you get back to me once I’ve taken the class and completed my application?

Once we have received your application, we will contact you by phone or email in approximately 4 weeks. 

We do not give updates over the phone.  We do not give updates by email.

How do you decide which applicant gets which apartment?  

We use postmark dates to move applications through the process. The date we consider is the one on which you submit the initially requested application documents. (We will contact you for the additional application requirements and the money order for a credit check, and you will need to have taken an Intro to Limited-Equity Co-ops Workshop for us to send you to any building.) In deciding which applicant gets which apartment, we also consider income guidelines, household size, and the results of the interview with the Shareholder Interview Committee. UHAB gives a preference to applicants who are residents of NYC. If we are able to offer an applicant a unit, it will be sized appropriately based on our assessment of family need. If an applicant insists on a unit size we consider “over housed” – defined using NYC government and housing nonprofit standards -- all appropriately sized households will receive priority consideration before the applicant in question will be considered at all. Units in affordable co-ops are rare, and we work to make the resource match the need. 

Does UHAB recommend lenders?

We work actively with the New York Mortgage Coalition. We also work with Kate Aldinger NMLS# 58011at Amalgamated Bank. In addition we work with the Brooklyn Co-op Federal Credit Union, Neighborhood Trust Federal Credit Union, and Neighborhood Housing Services.  Please Note: purchasers seeking mortgage products or homeowner assistance through State of New York Mortgage Agenda (SONYMA) will be turned down.  SONYMA does not make financial assistance available for purchasers into Article XI HDFCs.  Both NYC's Department of Housing Preservation and Development's Home First and Neighborhood Housing Service's grant programs do lend to potential HDFC buyers, but SONYMA does not.

How can I get an update on my application status?

We do not give updates over the phone, by email, or in person. We have an enormous Interest Pool and no ability to respond to these requests. Once you submit your application, expect from us either contact by phone or email to alert you to your application’s “Missing Documents” or contact by  phone or email to set up an interview. Again, we hope to set up an interview at the building most preferable to you that still has vacant units at that moment.  We want to work with you.  We will be in touch as soon as we can.

For how long does my application remain active at UHAB?

Applications remain on file at UHAB for one year. During that period, we may ask you to update specific pieces of your documentation and we may need to run a new credit check. After an application has been on file for one year, we shred it. If you would like to keep your application on file beyond one year, you will need to notify us within six weeks of the end of that one-year period. Applicants who have asked us to keep files older than one year at UHAB will be required to provide updated information.

Please also note that once you purchase an apartment through the UHAB Interest Pool, we shred your application.

You have a "Letter of Interest/Preferences Sheet" in the application. What if I don't see a builindg that is right for me right now? 

UHAB works with co-ops and future co-ops with vacant units.  In order for us to work with you, we need to have you identify a building you’d like to get into.  UHAB cannot do that for you and your application is not complete unless you actively give us one or more “preferences”.  This is because we work with applicants specifically through the building(s) they choose.  However, if you do not see anything you like on our website when you want to apply, you have two choices:  postpone applying until you do find something you like or put down the best listing now for your needs from what is available and update it as often as you see something better on our site.    

Is child support income? How about alimony?

Child Support is not taxable or deductible income so we do not evaluate it.  Alimony is both taxable and deductible so we do count it toward your household total.