Taking the First-Time Homebuyer Program
Purchasing a home for the first time is exciting, but can also be overwhelming. Taking part in a HUD-approved First-Time Homebuyer Program offered by Consolidated Credit is a highly effective and inexpensive way to educate yourself about one of the most significant financial and emotional purchases you will ever make.
What does the program do for me?
The first-time homebuyer program prepares you for the process of buying a home as well as for the responsibilities of being a homeowner. It consists of two parts:
- An 8-hour first-time homebuyer workshop (online or in-person)
- One-on-one housing counseling with a HUD-certified housing counselor
Among the many topics covered in the workshop, you will learn about obtaining financing, available mortgage and down payment assistance programs, selecting a real estate agent, homeowners insurance, home inspections, fair housing protections, predatory lending, and more.
To learn more about the program and why Consolidated Credit Housing Director Maria Gaitan thinks it’s valuable for anyone buying a home, read our Ask the Expert article about how the course can help you.
They tell them specifically what they need to do to qualify for a loan and then what they need to do to get into a home – for example, get a home inspection, get a survey, get an appraisal.
When individuals come to our workshops they get to hear from industry experts. At the end of the workshop they receive a certificate of completion, which is necessary for some down payment assistance or closing cost assistance.
A first-time homebuyer tells them exactly what they need to do so they have realistic expectations for their real estate agent.
How can I take the first-time homebuyer workshop?
Consolidated Credit hosts a live in-person workshop one Saturday per month at our Plantation, Florida office. The online course is always available and can be taken at your convenience. Here are our upcoming workshops:
Note: All local homebuyer workshops have been canceled
In light of public health safety concerns for the coronavirus, all live local homebuyer workshops at our home office in Plantation, Florida have been canceled. If you need to take a homebuyer course in the next few months, we recommend the online course.
How long is the workshop?
The in-person workshop is 8 hours long and runs from 9 AM to 5 PM. It is a Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) requirement that you stay for the entire class. The online course can be completed at your own pace. The average completion time is 6-8 hours.
How much does the workshop cost?
The in-person class is free. The online course costs $99 for the primary borrower and $49 for co-borrower – a great value for a thorough home buyer education course that you can take at your own pace.
What is the next step after I take the workshop?
After you take the workshop, you must complete at least one housing counseling session with one of our HUD-certified Housing Counselors before requesting your Certificate of Completion. The counseling can be done in-person or over the telephone and it’s a great time to ask questions.
Before meeting with your counselor, you will need to provide some financial documents and approve a pull of your credit report (rest assured, our credit inquiry is a “soft pull” and will not affect your credit score). Your counselor will use the information you provide to determine your “mortgage-readiness” and may also identify any obstacles you will need to work on before applying for a mortgage. They will help you create a customized Action Plan and follow up periodically to check on your progress.
Why is housing counseling important? Are there fees?
Think of your housing counselor as your coach during the home buying process. Your counselor’s goal is to educate and prepare you for sustainable homeownership and help reduce the chance of you defaulting on your mortgage. In fact, studies have shown that first-time homebuyers who received HUD-approved housing counseling were up to 65 percent less likely to end up in foreclosure.
Housing counseling services are completely free. The credit report fee is currently $26.41 and the certificate fee is $45.
Why do I need a Certificate of Completion?
The Homebuyer Education Certificate of Completion is a prerequisite for many down-payment assistance programs as well as some mortgage programs. These programs can significantly lower your required down payment or closing costs and potentially save you thousands of dollars.
You may request your Certificate of Completion at any time after completing a counseling session, but we recommend waiting until you are mortgage-ready as the certificate expires one year from the date it is issued.
See how else Consolidated Credit can help you
The Homebuyer Education section has even more resources for homebuyers. You can also call 1-800-435-2261 to speak with one of Consolidated Credit’s HUD-certified housing counselors at no charge.