Homebuyer Education Courses: Are They Worth the Time?

What to Expect as a First-Time Homebuyer

If you’re a first-time homebuyer, buying a home can seem overwhelming. There are many steps to learn, and the process, myths, and misconceptions can be mystifying. Homebuyer education courses may be the perfect way to learn what you need to know about buying your first home. In fact, some homebuyer assistance programs, grant programs, and lenders require homebuyers to take a virtual or in-person education course to qualify for their assistance, grant, or mortgage.

Find out more about what these classes are like and what they entail.

Key Takeaways

  • Home-buying classes are offered through a variety of state assistance programs, lenders, and real estate agents. Check around to find in-person or online sessions.
  • Costs range from free to a nominal $15–$25 fee, while others might cost as much as $125. Programs are typically four to eight hours long and come with a certification of completion.
  • They are required for some down payment assistance and grant programs, as well as to qualify with some lenders. They can be valuable for anyone buying a home for the first time.

What Is a Homebuyer Education Course?

A homebuyer education course is an in-person or virtual class to learn more about the home-buying process. They usually run from four to eight hours. You may be required to complete the class to qualify for home-buying assistance. Also, some lenders prefer that their buyers take such a course to help them understand what will be required as they go through the steps of buying their first home.

The class usually takes homeowners on a journey of the home-buying process, everything to know from budgeting to selecting a home to making an offer and closing. The best courses may have supplemental information about working with a lender or a real estate agent, homeownership expenses, proper home maintenance, avoiding foreclosure, and more. Some courses may have quizzes along the way to complete and pass/fail grading, although terms are lenient. Most offer a certificate of completion at the end of the course.

What Can You Learn from a Home-buying Education Course?

The best courses will be interesting and relevant, with an engaging teacher who encourages class interaction. While virtual classes may be less engaging, they can be the next best thing to getting all the information you need in one place. Most classes will cover a range of information such as:

  • Deciding how much home you can afford
  • What amenities you need in a home—for example, the number of bedrooms, bathrooms, fenced-in yard, office, etc.
  • The best mortgage products for your situation
  • Whether you qualify for grants or assistance and how to apply 
  • How to improve credit
  • How to select a lender and a real estate agent
  • How to work with lenders and real estate agents
  • How much money you need for a down payment or closing costs

What Is the Cost of a Homebuyer Class?

Costs range from free up to $125 per person, depending on the organization offering the class. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) class is free and a requirement to obtain certain HUD-backed mortgages. Courses also may be a requirement for some down payment assistance programs or other financing programs. Other courses may be sponsored through lenders or real estate agents. If you’re required to take a course, make sure that the one you select meets the conditions set by the requiring party. It’s best to take the course at the beginning of your home-buying process whenever possible, for the most benefit.

Why Should You Take a Home-buying Course?

Even if it’s not a requirement to qualify for assistance or get a loan with a certain lender, many homeowners benefit greatly from going through a home-buying course at the start of their buying journey.

Learning how to find the best real estate agent for you, as well as how to select and work with a lender, can boost your skill set and knowledge base so that you can make the best home purchase. Taking the class could help you avoid predatory practices and buying more home than you can afford, as well as help to walk you through the complicated home-buying process. Additionally, you may find the course helps well after you close on a new home with knowledge about home maintenance practices and avoiding foreclosure.

Why is homebuyer education important?

Because the home-buying process can be fraught with complications, taking a homebuyer course is one way to learn everything you need to know in a concise, simple format.

Do homebuyer education courses help you learn if you are ready to buy a home?

While the focus of most homebuyer education courses is to prepare you for buying a home, certain aspects of the curriculum will focus on how much money you need for a down payment, how much home you can afford, and how much home maintenance costs—things that can all help you decide if you’re ready to buy.

What are the advantages of buying a home vs. renting?

While buying and renting each have advantages, renting benefits include the flexibility to relocate, not paying for maintenance costs, and a possibly lower housing payment. Homeownership benefits include building equity in your home, tax benefits, and pride and accomplishment in owning your own home.

The Bottom Line

If you’re a first-time homebuyer or bouncing back after a financial hardship, you might consider taking a homebuyer education course. Even if you’re not required to take the course, you’ll learn new skills, brush up on the home-buying process, and arm yourself with the knowledge to make the best possible decision when it comes to purchasing a new home.

Article Sources
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  1. Fannie Mae, Single Family. “Homeownership Education.”

  2. Neighborhood Housing Services of New York City. “Homeownership Education.”

  3. U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. “Talk to a Housing Counselor.”

  4. Fannie Mae, Single Family. “How to Fulfill the Homeownership Education Requirement for HomeReady® Mortgage.”

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