Goodness – there is a lot of information available for homebuyers, especially for first time buyers. You can search online and find plenty of information, tips and opinions. Your family, friends and co-workers are typically willing to give their advice too, not to mention all the books on the subject of home-buying.
With so much information from multiple sources, it can be a little overwhelming, not to mention daunting. There is a wonderful resource that we have in Minnesota that can help take the mystery out of buying your first home and give you the one-stop-shop of homeownership research.
It’s called Homestretch. The Minnesota Homeownership Center developed a required class for people who want to utilize first time buyer assistance programs. This class, however, is not just for first time buyers. It’s for ANYONE looking to buy a home. And so much has changed in lending, that getting a refresher after being a homeowner for years isn’t a bad thing!
The class is eight hours long, but is well worth the time investment – not only for the education piece, but also it enables you, if eligible, to participate in many different assistance programs. Talking to your lender will help you determine the programs you might be eligible for.
Homestretch is taught in many locations which you can choose from and can be found by clicking their link on the right side of my blog. You can attend ANY class that’s convenient for you. If you’re planning on doing any special assistance program, like Neighborhood LIFT or NSP, you will need to attend a HUD-approved Homestretch class. Their website can direct you appropriately. As of this writing, there are no more funds in the LIFT program.
During the class, you will learn about becoming a homeowner, how to prepare for this “move” financially, determine your comfort level for a house payment by completing a budget, learn about credit, different loan types, home inspections, the offer process and MUCH MORE! I know I sound like a commercial for Homestretch, but I truly believe in being as educated as possible about the BIGGEST purchase you will ever make.
The in-person class is really the way to go. Since there are other people in the same situation as you, others’ questions can help you learn more than you would from the manual you receive. Typically, the class will have a few different presenters, possibly a loan officer, a Realtor or a home inspector, to name a few. These experts can add more value to the printed material too since they know the ropes!
The Homestretch class does come with a cost and each agency that teaches it will charge a different amount ranging from $20 – $50 (typically per household). Also, there are classes taught in different languages, so if English isn’t your primary language, you may be able to find a live class that meets your needs.
But what if you don’t have time to share eight hours with new home-buying strangers? Then you may opt to take the Framework class which is the online version of Homestretch. This probably won’t take you as long as the in-person class, but you will still learn the same information. The fee for Framework is $75. Depending on the program you end up using, as discussed with your lender, you may want to confirm Framework is an option over Homestretch. Some programs do require the in-person class.
Regardless of what method of learning you choose, in-person or online, this class is the perfect “starting point” for your home-buying journey. It’s best taken prior to even starting your pre-approval process or shortly after meeting with your loan officer.
Being educated on what to expect, what questions to ask and things to avoid is priceless. Homestretch is definitely the way to go if you’re looking for the one-stop-shop for homebuyer education!