Q. We have friends who took classes before they bought their first house and said that the experience made all the difference for them. We’d like to buy a home, too, but feel overwhelmed by the process. Where can we get more information on home-buying classes?
A. The US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) approves housing counseling agencies all over the country. HUD-approved housing counseling agencies offer homebuyer education programs and pre-purchase counseling.
Since buying a home is the single largest purchase most people make, you’re wise to seek pre-purchase housing counseling and homebuyer education early on in the home-buying process. Before signing a 30-year loan, you want to ensure you are well prepared to handle all lies ahead. What’s more, you want to make sure that you are getting the best deal possible.
In a homebuyer education class, you will learn about what it means to be credit ready for homeownership, the costs of purchasing a home, all the professionals involved in a real estate transaction and the types of loans available to you. You will also learn about getting pre-qualified, the parts of your house payment, shopping for a home, home inspections, finalizing your loan, what to expect at closing and even how to schedule regular home maintenance.
In a pre-purchase counseling appointment, the housing counselor will assess where you are now by reviewing your budget, credit, assets and debts. You may be ready for homeownership, or the counseling session may reveal that you need a year or two to prepare for buying a home. Perhaps you need to save for closing costs or work on your credit. The housing counselor will help you develop a plan to address areas you need to work on and help you reach your goal of homeownership.
Homebuyer education classes and pre-purchasing housing counseling are available to anyone; you need not be a first time homebuyer to participate in them. A lot has changed in the home-buying process in the last few years, so a homebuyer education program can be a great refresher for anyone who hasn’t purchased a home in the last five years. Even families that lost homes in the financial crisis may now be eligible to purchase a home once again.