How Homebuyer Education Can Help You Succeed

View the Steps to HomeOwnership

By Jose Cedanio, Economic Opportunity Program Associate, Somerville Community Corporation

In today's competitive homebuying market, making informed decisions is key to success. That’s why MassHousing recommends that homebuyers begin their journeys by completing a homebuyer education class with one of our community partners. Jose Cedanio of the Somerville Community Corporation shared his thoughts about the benefits and insight homebuyers can gain by completing a class.

Each Homebuying Journey is Unique

In our classes—and any classes certified through the Massachusetts Homeownership Collaborative and MassHousing—we stress the importance of building a strong team of real estate professionals (i.e., real estate agent, lender, attorney, home inspector). This looks different for different people. As you hear from real estate professionals during a first-time homebuyer class, note their different styles and approaches. Would their personalities be a good fit for yours? Be sure to assemble a team that you can work with.

Although the steps for buying a home are the same for everyone, the amount of time it takes can vary greatly from person to person. Don’t be discouraged if things don’t happen right away for you. 

Credit Matters

Don't be in a rush, either. Some people are so anxious to purchase that they apply for a mortgage loan despite having a lower credit score. Your credit score affects not only the interest rate, but also the rate at which you pay private mortgage insurance (PMI). We work with people on strategies to improve their score, which provides benefits over the long-term.

Speaking of credit, don’t be roped into home loans that focus on lending to people with lower scores. Talk to a housing counselor or to a couple of other lenders first. 

Know Your Mortgage Options

Always ask lenders you contact about mortgage products specifically designed for first-time homebuyers. They should know about more than one option and help you find the loan that suits you the best. 

A slightly lower interest rate does not always pay off in the long run if your lender does not communicate with you. We advise clients that, while rate should always be considered, customer service and accessibility are sometimes equally—or more—important.

The Benefits of Homebuyer Education

The advantage many of our counseling clients have is that they know what to expect when they go to apply for a mortgage pre-approval. I will often explain that the majority of our work involves "pre pre-approval."

By taking a first-time homebuyer class, you learn about different products and services that are out there specifically for you, so you go to a lender equipped with knowledge. MassHousing alone offers several different types of mortgages. If you learn about MassHousing products during your FTHB education and you think one will work for you, focus on lenders who have knowledge about those programs.