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Ameen Housing Cooperative of California or AHC for short was established in 1966, as a cooperative financial institution based on the Toronto Housing cooperative model. Ameen Housing offers halal investing opportunities for its investors and provides halal home loans to those who want to buy or refinance a loan. It is important to note that at the time of writing this article, AHC is only licensed in the state of California, if you live outside of California then you will have to explore other options. 

Ameen Housing has a proven track record of remaining profitable in all 76 quarters during the past 19 years. Making it a great halal investment for American Muslims. The mission of Ameen Housing Co-op is halal financing and investing. The three major goals of AHC are:

  • Enabling Muslim investors, homebuyers, and the community-at-large to benefit economically, socially, and religiously.
  • Meet the demand for viable financial products that are interest-free
  • Play a vital role in the establishment of Muslim communities in North America

AHC’s Home Buying Process

The halal financing model of AHC is very straightforward, the prospective home buyer must become a member of AHC in order to finance. To become a member, you will need to complete the “Request for Addition on Active List” or  RFAL form  in order to be added to the Active List. The Active List is a list of AHC members currently on the waiting list who are seeking either home financing or refinancing. 

AHC will typically fund home purchases up to 80% if the purchase price is $100,000 or less. If the purchase price is greater than $100,000 but less than $700,000, then AHC will fund up to 70%. Additionally, as part of the RFAL form submission and approval process, you will need to show proof of funds in your bank account to the tune of 20% of the estimated purchase price (or 10% in some cases) or $50,000, whichever is lower. Each customer will have their unique case, so definitely inquire with AHC to get a more exact figure. 

As mentioned earlier, the Active list is the waiting list of the approved applicants looking to purchase a home or refinance their existing home. The order of which you receive financing is on a first come first serve basis, so oftentimes applicants will wait a while before their turn comes up. So new members will have to wait their turn until the processing of applications of previous members. When your application gets approved, and you reach the third spot from the top of the list, you will be required to pay the amount of the down payment in full within a 30-day period.

You are then required to wait until your application reaches the first position on the active list to receive the full amount of the loan. During this waiting period, it is recommended that you find a home or finalize your home purchase decision. 

After approval of the amount, you will have 60 days to find and purchase a house or refinance your current house and an additional 30 days to close the transaction. To increase the time limit, you can delay the home purchase for 45 days by informing the board of directors through the RHAL form. Once the individual is ready to purchase the home, he/she can get added to the list again through a Request for re-addition of Active list or RHAL form.

Investing in AHC

Muslim investors looking to invest in real estate to earn consistent dividends and minimize risk can invest in AHC. Investing in bonds, certificates of deposits and other investments are haram because they involve interest. An alternative is investing in AHC which invests your money in owner-occupied homes.

In Islam, an asset-backed investment is permissible. AHC helps Muslims living in California purchase their own home, so the organization is working for a good cause, and investing in AHC means that you also become a part of this good deed. The financial statements of AHC and dividend yields also reflect steady growth over the years. Investors who are interested in investing in AHC can request additional information by visiting Ameen Housing’s head office in Santa Clara, CA, or contact through phone or email, available at their website.

Shariah-compliant Home Buying Model

The AHC has provided a clear comparison on its website between Ameen Housing’s lending model and the lending model followed by conventional banks. Here is a breakdown of the comparison:

  • When an investor invests their capital and becomes a member of AHC, they are not giving out a loan but instead they are co-buying a house (that is a tangible asset). The investor is a part of the AHC and the AHC buys houses in partnership with the home buyer. In conventional banking, the bank is the lender, and the homeowner is the borrower.
  • The homeowner who is a co-owner of the house pays rent to AHC for using the AHC’s part of the property. In conventional banking, the homeowner pays interest.
  • The rent collected is at fair market value. (Rent is similar to other houses of the same size in the locality). And the rent is shared between AHC and the buyer, so the homebuyer pays rent according to his/her share in the house. Conventional banks charge interest at an interest rate based on commercial lending rates and the credit history of the buyer.
  • The homebuyer can buy a share of the house purchased by AHC on pre-agreed terms. The capital gains and losses are also shared between AHC and the homebuyer. In conventional banking, the bank who is the lender does not share the gains or losses.

Financial Products Offered by AHC

The two major financial products are ‘Interest-free Investment in AHC’ and ‘Home Financing’.

1. Interest-free Investment in AHC (Investor)

To invest in AHC, the investors must arrange a meeting with their management team. At the time of writing this article, AHC did not publish online any financial statements or other details about how they conduct business. However, they are available upon request. 

2.Home Financing (Home Buyer/Refinancer)

A.Buying a Home

To apply for a home purchase through AHC, the applicant must fill out the Request for addition to Active List RFAL Form. If the AHC has sufficient funds and is willing to help you purchase your house, they contact you directly to proceed.

Homebuyers can use AHC’s financing calculator to calculate their estimated monthly rent payments. However, the calculator is just for a rough estimate, and it is recommended to call them for confirmation.

B.Refinancing an Existing Mortgage

The home refinancing process is just like the AHC’s home buying process which begins when the applicant becomes an AHC member by completing and submitting the RFAL form. The financing limits for home buying and refinancing are also the same, up to $100,000 for 80% of the financing of the total home price and up to $500,000 to cover 70% of the home price.

Doing Business with Ameen Housing

Ameen Housing is halal but that is not the only reason why you might want to consider Ameen Housing. They are much better than conventional banks in many respects. Here are some benefits of Ameen Housing to homebuyers:

  • When saving for a house, you can opt to invest your savings with AHC, once you’ve saved up enough funds, you can turn your investment into a downpayment for purchasing a house. This is better than a savings account because the return on investment (ROI) tends to be higher, and more importantly, the investment is interest-free and halal. 
  • ·The occupancy charges (rent) are fair and mutually agreed upon by the homebuyer and AHC. As the homebuyer goes on purchasing more shares in the house (that were owned by AHC), the ownership is also reflected through reduced rent.
  • Any gain or loss in the property upon sale or transfer will be realized by both partners (AHC and the home buyer), based on their shares. For instance, if the share of AHC is 70% and the homebuyer is 30%, the capital gains will be distributed at the same ratio. 

Shariah Review by AMJA

In 2014, the Assembly of Muslim Jurists of America (AMJA) reviewed Ameen Housing Co-op and found two major issues with regards to Shariah compliance. Ameen Housing responded to those issues in a positive way and amended their practices to be Shariah-compliant. In a declaration issued by AMJA (January 2015) after Ameen Housing Co-op sorted out issues, the Fatwa Committee mentioned that the home purchase contracts issued by AHC were Shariah-compliant. The declaration also mentioned that they no longer have any objection to AHC’s practices, and it is permissible for Muslims to use their financial products.

Customer Reviews


Ameen Housing Cooperative of California has a rating of 3 out of 5 stars on Yelp based on 4 reviews. Those who failed to get approved for home purchases had negative sentiments about AHC on Yelp, for example, one person said that even after the passage of three months, she did not receive the needed assistance or communication from the team. She reached out several times through phone calls and email, but the staff was unprofessional and did not bother to assist her.

On the other hand, another customer who invested in AHC wrote in her review on Yelp that AHC is a reliable and stable investment choice. The investment growth is consistent, and they support people’s dreams of buying their own houses. She also mentioned that she could withdraw money right away when she wanted to buy a car.

A member who purchased a house through AHC and later became an investor gave a 4-star review. She mentioned that the business model of AHC is unique. They have a very small office, even though they manage a pretty penny. Also, no online automation or ability to check or collect information online, makes communication very difficult. 

Google Reviews

Ameen Housing Co-op has a rating of 3.8 out of 5 stars on Google Reviews based on 30 reviews.

A person who had purchased a house through AHC wrote that the organization is focused on maximizing profits for shareholders only. They do not update their IT systems or website to save costs. The staff is not empowered to make decisions, everything must go through the board. AHC did not help with the costs of appliance replacement. The mortgage terms are also very susceptible to massive annual hikes.

Another homebuyer who rated 5 stars out of 5 wrote that everyone who complained about having a bad experience is disappointed and complaining because they paid more. AHC is better than a conventional bank because it is halal. AHC is a small business that is run by volunteers so they cannot minimize the cost of capital beyond a certain point. He further added would you like to eat pork because it tastes delicious? Obviously not, because it is haram. So, why choose a conventional bank that is haram? No matter how cheap conventional home mortgages are, they cannot be compared to a halal alternative such as AHC.

Another reviewer rated the organization 5 stars, wrote that the employees of AHC are trying their best to serve and operate with the given limited resources.

How to Interpret Reviews

Reviews should always be taken with a grain of salt. At the end of the day, almost always you will be faced with a mixed bag of reviews. While the overall sentiment was positive, there were a couple of trends that are important to call out based on what the reviewers had to say. Some of the concerns that were referenced to over and over again are discussed below:

Poor Communication

Communication was a large source of frustration for many of the reviewers. A notable number of reviewers said that when contacting AHC representatives, they either received a poor first response or no response at all. Reviewers who ended up going through the full purchase process have noted they too had issues with communication throughout the buying/refinancing journey. It is important to note that due to the organizational structure at Ameen, all decisions have to be routed to their board who are not accessible to consumers. 

Focus on Wealth Maximization for Investors Only

Homeowners who are clients of Ameen Housing complained that the company focused on maximizing wealth for the investors only. They believe the management team could do a better job balancing both customers and investors. This can be seen in multiple touchpoints in the process: 1) communication deficiencies 2) dated tech stack 3) lack of consumer engagement and education. 

That being said, Ameen Housing Co-Operative is a much smaller organization when compared to other Islamic financing institutions in the United States. With a smaller team and limited budget, one can expect that there might be gaps in the process that hinder the consumer’s experience. 

Should You Buy a House through AHC?

AHC is not like conventional banks, they offer a unique home financing model based on diminishing Musharakah using funding gathered from investors. Due to their size and scale, they cannot cut costs or offer extremely competitive home financing, like most conventional banks. The organization is run mainly through funding by private investors and to encourage more investors to invest in AHC, the organization must pay competitive returns to its shareholders. You might pay much higher than conventional banks, experience delays, and receive average customer care. But buying a house through AHC is halal.

So, anyone living in the state of California who wishes to purchase a home in a halal way should consider Ameen Housing Co-op. If AHC is the only option for you to finance your home purchase in a halal way, then AHC is certainly not a bad choice. As Muslims, we must try our best to stay away from haram contracts, and a halal choice, no matter how expensive it is, is always better than choosing haram.