How to Buy in GHI

Buying a unit in our housing cooperative is similar to buying a house anywhere. The major difference is that you are buying a membership in the cooperative, with the right to live in your unit. In legal terms, your purchase is considered personal property and not real estate. For all practical purposes, you live in this home as if it is your own and you can make changes to it as long as they are done according to the member handbook.

Here are the major steps to joining GHI’s housing cooperative:

Learn About the Community

The first step is to visit the community to decide which type of house best meets your needs. The list of Homes for Sale will show you which houses are currently available. There are three types of houses: brick, block, and frame with a variety of floor plans and prices. You can view them on the Models and Floor Plans page or for more details about the homes, see Home Details.

Pre-Purchase Orientation

Anyone seeking to purchase a home in the GHI cooperative and become a member of the cooperative is required to attend a pre-purchase orientation before the prospective member’s purchase can be approved by the GHI Board of Directors. This informative meeting explains how a cooperative works, lists the steps in the GHI purchase process, and describes how to become a member of the GHI cooperative. See the schedule of pre-purchase orientations here.

Sales Contract

The buyer and the seller enter into a contract, just as with a real estate home purchase. You may use a realtor to assist in the buying process. However, this is just the first step in the process to becoming a GHI member. 

Mortgage Lender

Once a sales contract has been signed, the buyer should apply for financing. GHI is a market-rate cooperative where the units sell for the going market rate. Typically, buyers need to obtain a special kind of mortgage called a “share loan,” which must come from a GHI-approved lender. If you have been pre-qualified by a mortgage loan officer when you sign a sales contract, this helps ensure that you can meet all GHI financial requirements for buyers. GHI currently requires a 10 percent down payment, as well as payment of application and membership fees. GHI will allow a 5 percent down payment with special requirements (see GHI Membership Selection Criteria for details). Some mortgage lenders may require a higher down payment.

Homes for Sale

Outside of large home

GHI Approval Process

Once you have made an offer for a home and your sales contract has been ratified, a copy of the contract is sent to GHI’s Contract Processing Department. The other steps in the approval process are:

  • You need to complete a membership application and submit it along with the application and membership fees to GHI.
  • GHI will then check your references, employment and prior rental history.
  • You are required to meet with a GHI staff member for a personal interview.
  • When all paperwork has been completed, your application package is submitted to the board of directors for final approval at a board meeting.
  • Once the board has approved your membership and GHI has given final approval that the seller has made all repairs to the unit noted in the presale inspection that sellers must complete to sell their units, your settlement can be scheduled.
  • At settlement, in addition to signing your mortgage note, you will sign a Mutual Ownership Contract (MOC), with Greenbelt Homes, Inc., which gives you as a member the right to live in a particular unit. The MOC also lists the rights and obligations of a member and the cooperative to each other.

During the entire purchase process, GHI staff is available to answer any questions. For additional information, contact the Contract Processing Office at 301-474-4161, ext. 1146.