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Buying a home is a big decision. It may be the most expensive purchase you’ll ever make. Because the stakes are so high, you should learn as much as you can about the home buying process before you take the proverbial plunge.
One way to do that is by taking a first-time home buyers class.
Many different organizations offer first-time home buyers classes, including banks, credit unions, real estate companies, nonprofit credit counseling agencies and housing counseling agencies.
Whether you’re buying your first home – or your fourth – from finding a home to obtaining financing to closing, buying a home can get complicated.
A first-time home buyer education course can help you prepare for the home buying process. We’ll tell you what you need to know about first-time home buyers classes and how they can help unlock the door to homeownership.
What Is a First-Time Home Buyer Education Course?
First-time home buyer courses feature content prepared by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and touch on just about every element of the home buying process, including getting a mortgage and homeownership. Armed with this knowledge, you can make informed decisions about your purchase.
What Can You Expect From Your First-Time Home Buyers Class?
In short, you can expect to learn quite a bit about the home buying process. You’ll learn how to find a real estate agent and learn about budgeting, getting a mortgage and closing on your home.
You can expect to learn about different aspects of the home buying process, including:
- How to determine what you need in a home
- How to calculate how much you can afford and how much you can qualify for
- How to search for a home
- How to find a real estate agent
- How to get home financing
- What the home loan process is and how long it can take
- What to look for in a home inspection report
- How to complete home loan applications
- How to compare mortgages
- Tax considerations
- Homeowners insurance
- How to close on a home
- What to expect after you’ve closed on a home
How long does it take?
A typical first-time home buyers class can last around 3 – 4 hours. There are also online courses available that you can take at your own pace. Online courses can be a great option if you can’t carve time out of your schedule to attend a one-time class.
Many courses also allow ongoing access to former attendees. This can be a great resource if you have questions after you’ve completed the course or purchased your home.
How much does it cost?
The cost of a first-time home buyer class can vary. Many are offered for free by nonprofit credit counseling agencies or government-backed housing entities. If the course is offered by a private company, you can expect to spend around $100 – $200.
When should you take a first-time home buyer course?
First-time home buyer courses offer valuable information for every stage of homeownership. It’s best to take a course before your house hunting gets too serious.
That being said, it’s never too late to take a first-time home buyer class. If you’re already deep in the process of buying a home and feel like you could use some extra guidance, go ahead and sign up for a class. It can’t hurt. Given the number of topics that are covered, you may learn something that helps make your home buying experience go a lot smoother.
Do you have to take a home buyers class?
First-time home buyer courses are not required by all lenders but may be required for some home buying programs offered by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Programs that require class attendance usually offer an incentive such as a reduction in your down payment or other perks.
Here are a few home buying programs that typically require you to enroll in a home buyer class:
- HomeReady® by Fannie Mae: HomeReady® offers borrowers a lower down payment, competitive interest rates and more. To qualify for this program, you’ll need a credit score of at least 620, and you must complete a first-time home buyers course, such as Fannie Mae’s HomeView™.
- Home Possible® by Freddie Mac: Freddie Mac also offers loan products with lower down payments, relaxed co-borrower restrictions and more. To qualify, borrowers must participate in a homeownership education program.
- State-sponsored home buyer programs: States and localities offer home buyer programs and incentives to residents. Check the Department of Housing and Urban Development website to find options in your area. Most programs are need-based and generally require a home buyer class.
Whether a first-time home buyers class is required by a lender or not, a class can be hugely beneficial, helping to make you a more informed – and more confident – home buyer.
Ask your lender (or prospective lender) if taking a first-time home buyer class is required or recommended for the loan you want to take out. Some lenders may point you to a reputable class in your area.
How Do You Find a First-Time Home Buyer Class?
If you’re ready to learn about homeownership, you’ve got plenty of options. There are several ways to find a first-time home buyers class. We’re recommending programs offered by government and nonprofit organizations, which means they are likely free or low cost.
The world has moved online – and so have first-time home buyer classes. You can enjoy the course from the comfort of your home and on your own schedule. No need to arrange a babysitter or fill up your gas tank. You’ll find online courses from government agencies, nonprofit organizations and private companies.
Fannie Mae offers HomeView™. It’s free and is one of the most recognized HUD-approved courses.
Because the internet hasn’t (totally) taken over yet, you always have the option to attend a class in person. You can find in-person classes here:
- The Department of Justice’s list of approved nonprofit credit counseling agencies
- HUD-approved housing counseling agencies
- State housing finance agencies
- Your local library, chamber of commerce or real estate offices may offer courses, too.
Buy Your Home With Confidence
You’re preparing to make what could be one of the most significant purchases of your life. Shouldn’t you be as prepared as possible? Taking a first-time home buyers class may not be required – but it can certainly help you navigate the long and often challenging road to homeownership.
You’ll better understand the process, and you’ll know what to expect as a first-time home buyer. If you could use some financial assistance, lenders may offer attractive incentives to take a class, such as discounted mortgage rates or eligibility for certain loan types.
Get started on your homeownership journey today by finding a first-time home buyers class that’s right for you.