Nicki & Karen

The Ultimate Guide for First Time Home Buyers

Nicki & Karen » December 28, 2020

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Buying your first home can seem like an insurmountable task when you have no idea what to expect and are unsure about what to look for. Studies show that nearly two-thirds of all first-time buyers believed that they didn’t understand aspects of the purchasing process. While a real estate agent can guide you through the majority of the home-buying process, you should still have a firm grasp of what this process entails. To become more knowledgeable about the many components of purchasing a home, consider taking a course and receiving a certificate pertaining to buying a home. Even though it’s not usually a requirement for first-time buyers to take one of these courses, completing a course can give you the confidence you need to find the home of your dreams.

However, there are some situations where you may be required to take a course as a first-time buyer. Some mortgage lenders will require first-time buyers to take one of these courses. The same is true if you’re attempting to purchase a home via a down payment assistance or similar housing financing program. Whether you’re required to take this course or have made the decision to do so on your own, there are several things you should know before selecting a course.

First, make sure that the course you choose is reputable and provides you with the education you’re looking for. While some of these courses charge a small fee, others are free for you to take. In general, the majority of courses will cost anywhere from $25-$125. You should also think about selecting a course that provides a certificate upon completion. If you have a real estate agent who’s helping you throughout the home-buying process, consider asking them about these courses and if they’re right for you.

The subjects that you’ll learn about during one of these courses include obtaining a mortgage, what to expect when buying a home, making mortgage payments, home equity, how credit affects your mortgage, and how to effectively manage your finances after you buy a home. These courses can be taken as an in-person or online class, which gives you the flexibility of choosing your preferred setting. This article provides you with a comprehensive guide on these courses and the perks that come with taking one.

Key Takeaways:

  • Being a first-time home buyer is not an easy task. There is a lot of information you are not unaware of until the process comes about.
  • There are many topics covered in each first-time home buyers course but the main topics discuss mortgage, affording your home, down payments, home inspections, credit checks, and more.
  • Our article provides you with five top courses where we discuss the importance and costs of each.

What Is Covered in A First-Time Home Buyers Course?

There are many topics that are covered in a first-time home buyers course, the primary of which include:

  • The steps that occur throughout the mortgage process
  • The amount that you can afford when buying a home
  • Steps you can take to repair or significantly improve your credit situation
  • How to properly shop for the ideal mortgage loan
  • What to look for in a real estate agent
  • The important roles of the 10 professionals who are involved within the majority of home purchases
  • The basics of home inspections
  • What you should include in your offer to the seller
  • The primary steps involved with the closing process

As touched upon previously, the education that you receive through one of these courses should also help you in the long-term when it comes to your finances. Most first-time home buyers courses provide education on how to manage your money, which can be invaluable in the months and years after you first purchase your home. You don’t want to be in a situation where you’re unable to make your mortgage payments and have your home foreclosed on because you haven’t done well with managing your financial situation. Once you’ve completed one of these courses, you should know practically everything about the home-buying process and what it entails, which will likely help you avoid making any costly mistakes while buying a home.

When Should You Take A First-Time Home Buyers Course?

Many first-time buyers who take one of these courses will do so late in the purchasing process when a lender requires them to complete one. However, the majority of these individuals have stated that they would have preferred to take the course towards the beginning of the process. Likely the best time to take one of these courses is before you even begin to look for a new home.

It’s important to understand that these courses can teach you about the entirety of the home-buying process, which can be invaluable throughout every step of the journey. If you’ve decided that you want to buy a home in the near future, now would be the best time to take the course.

Perks of First-Time Home Buyer Courses

The perks of taking a first-time home buyer course are many. Along with providing you with in-depth knowledge about the purchasing process, taking one of these courses can give you access to better loan programs depending on the course that you take. The main perks associated with these courses include:

  • Better requirements for down payments – When you complete one of these courses, it’s possible that you will be provided with a loan that comes with lower down-payment requirements of three percent
  • Makes it easier to qualify – Completing a first-time home buyer program could allow you to qualify for a mortgage even if you have poor credit or relatively low income
  • Can qualify using different types of income – You may be able to use rental or roommate income in order to qualify for a loan
  • Can use gift funds for closing costs – If you have received gift funds, these funds could be used to pay 100 percent of your closing costs at the end of the home-buying process
  • Can obtain assistance for closing costs – After you take one of these courses, the lender that required that you take this course may provide you with some monetary assistance that can go towards the closing costs

Keep in mind that the perks and advantages attributed to a first-time home buyers course aren’t the exact same with every course. Some mortgage associations will provide better benefits than others. The two primary mortgage associations of Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae offer three separate programs that you can select from.

These programs are required if the loan that you are thinking about selecting is backed by one of these mortgage associations. If you want to be certain about the perks that come with taking one of these courses, make sure that you inquire about the benefits with the company that sponsors or provides the course. You should have this information in hand before signing up for the course in question.

First-Time Home Buyer Courses Recommended for You

There are a wide range of different home buyer courses that you can choose to take, many of which can be taken online for free. The following are five of the top courses available to you, each of which comes with its own unique benefits.

CalHFA Homebuyer Education

The CalHFA Homebuyer Education course is available to all first-time buyers and is required by certain lenders. This course takes around eight hours to complete and can be taken online. This is currently the only online course that’s fully accepted by CalHFA. If you want to obtain a 30-year conventional loan through CalHFA, you will be tasked with completing this course. When you take the course online, the fee is $99. If the course is taken in-person, fees can vary depending on the agency. Throughout this course, you will learn all there is to know about buying and owning a home.

West Angeles Homebuyer Education Course

The West Angeles Homebuyer Education Course is a highly reputable course that takes eight hours to complete and educates first-time buyers about money management, real estate language, how to create and transfer generational wealth, and financing opportunities. You will also learn how to navigate the entire home-buying process. When you take one of these courses, you’ll be given access to down-payment assistance providers, a wide network of realtors and lenders, and one-on-one counseling in areas like credit and financial literacy. The fee for this course is $65. If you decide to register online, you’ll receive a $10 discount.

Freddie Mac CreditSmart Course

The Freddie Mac CreditSmart Course is an in-depth 12-module course that’s free to take and can be completed in anywhere from 4-6 hours. Each module of this course covers a different subject, which includes everything from managing your money to thinking like a lender. This course can be highly beneficial when you’re trying to learn how to manage your finances when making a large investment for your first home. The online tutorial that’s available with this course will provide you with a certificate upon completion.

Fannie Mae HomeReady Course

The Fannie Mae HomeReady Course is meant to help borrowers learn how to correctly purchase a home and how to navigate the lengthy loan process. You can also obtain housing counseling through this program, which will provide you with a $500 credit that goes towards your loan upon completion. If you access this course on the Fannie Mae website, it’s free of charge. Otherwise, you’ll be required to pay $75.

EHome America Homebuyer Education Course

The eHome America Homebuyer Education Course is a certified online program that’s available for first-time buyers. The subjects that this course covers include the many steps of the purchasing process, how to prepare for the expenses of owning a home, financial management, and what to do after the purchase has gone through. This course costs $99 to take for the main borrower and $49 for a secondary borrower. The course should take around 8-10 hours to finish.

No matter which of these courses you take, you’ll be provided with perks that can make it easier for you to purchase your first home. Keep in mind that the education you receive during one of these courses will prepare you for every facet of the home-buying process, which should give you more confidence as you make important decisions about which home to purchase and which loan to select.

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