September 6th, 2019 5:43 AM by Jackie A. Graves, President
A first-time home buyer class can be the ticket to grants, down
payment assistance and a lower monthly payment.
A first-time home buyer class has been suggested to you — perhaps
by a lender, friend or real estate agent. And you’re thinking, “What’s the
But what if
you were paid a nice chunk of change to take the class? In effect, that may
actually be the case.
A first-time home buyer class, and the
certificate you earn from completing it, can be the ticket to a grant or down
payment assistance. At the very least, it can show you how to save hundreds or
maybe thousands of dollars on a mortgage.
which can lead to a lower monthly mortgage payment.
It’s a course
featuring content guided by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban
Development. While HUD doesn’t dole out grants or down payment assistance, many
of the states, local governments and nonprofits that do will require you to
take a HUD-approved “housing counseling” class.
These educational workshops are designed to help borrowers qualify
for a mortgage and navigate the homebuying process.
Opperman is an executive vice president of Credit.org, a nonprofit personal
finance education provider. The company offers homebuying courses in Southern
California as well as online through ehomeamerica.org.
Opperman says first-timers, as well as so-called boomerang buyers bouncing back from a past
financial hardship, find the classes worthwhile.
taking the course, particularly those reentering homeownership following the
loss of a home, say, “‘I didn’t know any of this. I sure would have done things
a lot differently,'” Opperman says.
class will cover topics such as:
How much home can you afford?
What do you need in your
home? (“You’ve got pets, then you may
really need a backyard. But maybe you don’t need a three-car garage,” Opperman
offers as an example.)
What mortgage loan products to consider.
How to comparison shop real
estate agents and lenders.
How to improve your credit score.
borrowers take the class as a lender requirement to qualify for a particular
loan or assistance, Opperman says many participants say they wish they had
taken the course much earlier in the homebuying process.
In fact, she says potential home buyers should take the course
“before they do anything.”
make the decision that they want to purchase a home, they should take the
class,” Opperman says. “We show them how to comparison shop several different
lenders. How to interview and locate a Realtor, and then comparison shop three
helps buyers avoid “shoehorning themselves into homes that are just beyond
reach,” Opperman adds.
who complete the course receive a HUD-approved certificate that helps qualify
borrowers for grant and down payment assistance programs, dependent on their
buyer education courses are free. If there is a charge, Opperman says,
in-person classes may cost as little as $15 to $30, mostly offsetting the cost
courses, which can be six to eight hours long, can range from $75 to $125, but
they allow the convenience of completing the course in your spare time and at
your own pace.
It’s a good idea to search close to home, with the housing agency
in your state that offers first-time home
buyer assistance programs. Even if you don’t financially qualify for
a grant or down payment help, it’s likely they can point you in the direction
of homebuying education.
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