Hilton Head Regional Habitat for Humanity will sell donated house to highest bidder

jkidd@beaufortgazette.comAugust 16, 2013 

FILE: From left, Habitat For Humanity volunteers Loran Lopp and Jon Peluso remove a countertop from the Sun City Hilton Head home of donors Bill and Rush McMoil for recycling on April 20, 2011.

JAY KARR — Staff photo

Hilton Head Regional Habitat for Humanity has built or renovated more than 90 homes since its founding in 1990, but one of the nonprofit organization's newest properties is something of a first.

JPMorgan Chase donated a foreclosed home in The Gatherings to the Habitat affiliate, which renovated it and plans to sell it to the highest bidder.

Typically, Habitat for Humanity does not make a profit on the homes it builds or renovates, but because this house was donated, the organization will be able to use the proceeds to build infrastructure at The Glen, the first Habitat community to be built on Hilton Head Island.

Though unusual, this project serves two purposes, according to Hilton Head Regional Habitat for Humanity president Pat Wirth. In keeping with the organization's mission, a family that might not otherwise be able to afford a home can purchase one, "and it's a fundraiser for us," Wirth said.

She added that Hilton Head Regional Habitat for Humanity also has applied to acquire a home in Bluffton and another in Hardeeville through the Chase program, which she learned about from her counterpart at Habitat's Columbia affiliate.

"We directors are a pretty tight-knit group, and we're always on the lookout for some new way to get people into affordable homes," Wirth said.

The 1,900-square-foot, three-bedroom, three-bath house is at 66 Black Watch in The Gatherings, a neighborhood of 103 homes and townhouses near the foot of the bridge to Hilton Head Island. The home will be showcased in open houses from 1 to 4 p.m. Aug. 18, Aug. 25, Sept. 1 and Sept. 8.

Information about the bidding process will be available at each open house and at the Habitat office in Bluffton.

As with most typical Habitat for Humanity projects, work on the property was performed almost exclusively by volunteers, Wirth said. However, the project also marks a departure in several respects.

For instance, because the makeover was completed before the buyer was selected, the new homeowner won't have to contribute "sweat equity" to the project. Neither will the new owner be required to attend 20 hours of classes that are mandatory for other Habitat participants.

Wirth said bidding will follow Chase's more lenient income rules. Prospective buyers can earn as much as 120 percent of the area's median income; typical Habitat clients can make no more than 60 percent of the median income. That means a family of four can have a household income of about $80,000 a year and be eligible to bid on the home in The Gatherings, Wirth said.

The buyer also will have to arrange financing, which usually is provided by Habitat.

Volunteers from Habitat Restore have staged the house for sale with donated items. All furnishings used in the staging will also be available for sale.

Profits from the sale of the property will help pay for the development of The Glen, where 16 houses are planned for the first phase of construction. Permits for those homes have been secured, Wirth said, and the organization hopes to map out a construction timeline by late September, after it learns more about federal grants that might help pay for it.

The Town of Hilton Head Island donated 14 acres for The Glen, and as many as 40 homes could eventually be built there, Wirth said.

Hilton Head Regional Habitat for Humanity builds or renovates homes that are then sold at no profit to approved buyers, who make low monthly mortgage payments. Those payments are put into a revolving fund used to build more houses. Houses are built with volunteer labor and tax-deductible donations of money and materials.

Information: Call 843-757-5864.

Follow Managing Editor Jeff Kidd on Twitter at twitter.com/InsidePages.

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