Homebuyer education courses can set first-time homebuyers up for success by teaching them how to save for a down payment, shop for lenders, maintain a home and provide all-around valuable information about the homebuying process. Yet the benefits don’t stop at education alone – such courses play a key role in reducing mortgage costs. 

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“For first-time homebuyers, the sheer amount of information in front of them can be overwhelming and confusing,” said Amy Robbins, associate director of operations with Take Charge America, a nonprofit credit and housing counseling agency. “Homebuyer education courses not only provide clarity on what to expect, but they provide financial benefits and set participants up for success long into the future.”

Robbins outlines three major benefits of homebuyer education courses:

  1. Education about the homebuying process: Many people may not realize how comprehensive homebuyer education programs can be. Attendees learn how to save money for a down payment, choose a lender, budget appropriately, understand loan types, prepare for different inspections and much more. It’s a complete, end-to-end training of the homebuying process.
  2. Down-payment assistance: There are four types of down-payment assistance programs: grants, loans, deferred loans and forgivable loans. Such programs help make the cost of homeownership more affordable by offering first-time homebuyers financial assistance with their down payments, reduced interest rates or assistance with closing costs. In order to qualify for these programs, select lenders require a certification of completion from a homebuyer education course. The Mortgage Reports website provides a directory of programs, most of which are specific to the state of residence. 
  3. Homebuyer schedule-friendly: There are two ways to take a homebuyer education course: on-demand through an online portal, or locally with a realtor or lender that offers the certification. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) provides an online search feature to find a region-specific list of nationally approved homeowner programs.

Nonprofit housing counseling agencies such as Take Charge America offer homebuyer education courses online. They are self-paced and available 24/7.