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Homebuyer education courses: VA, HUD, and more

If you’re ready to make the leap from renting to owning your own home, homebuyer education courses can help you prepare. You’ll learn what to expect when applying for a mortgage, how much home you can afford and the ongoing responsibilities of maintaining a home. In addition, taking a HUD-approved homebuyer education class can save you money because it may help you qualify for certain down payment assistance and affordable lending programs.

What are homebuyer education courses?

When applying for first-time homebuyer grants and assistance or certain affordable lending programs, you may be required to enroll in a homebuyer education workshop. These courses are offered online, over the phone and in person. Although most people enroll after applying for a loan, they can be completed even before you start shopping for a home.

Benefits of homebuyer education courses

Homebuyer education courses prepare you for the mortgage application process. In addition, by attending a class that helps you qualify for an affordable loan, you can potentially save thousands of dollars. You may also become eligible for down payment assistance, free grants and closing costs assistance. Lastly, homebuyer education courses set you up for success by explaining what expenses you can expect to maintain your home.

Types of things you might learn about

  • Budgeting and credit
  • How much home you can afford
  • Choosing the best loan
  • Home loan interest rates
  • Tips to lower your down payment
  • Shopping for a home
  • What to include in your offer
  • The closing process
  • How to maintain your new home
  • Managing your finances

Eligibility and requirements

Everyone is eligible for homebuyer education courses, regardless of whether you’re a first-time homebuyer, an existing homebuyer or a renter. A course may be mandatory when applying for down payment assistance or certain affordable lending programs. For example, Fannie Mae guidelines require housing counseling for some three percent down payment mortgages, regardless of your loan-to-value ratio.

Are there free homebuyer education courses?

Yes. Homebuyer education courses are available both free of cost and for a small fee. However, some state mortgage and down payment assistance programs waive this fee.

  • For Federal National Mortgage Association (FNMA), Fannie Mae offers HomeView™. This online homeownership education course helps consumers navigate the mortgage and homebuying process confidently and responsibly—available free of cost and accessible online anytime on any device at fanniemae.com/education.
  • For Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation (FHLMC) affordable programs, Freddie Mac offers CreditSmart, a free online resource for consumers seeking information on buying and maintaining a residential property.

VA and FHA approved homebuyer education courses

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) sponsors housing counseling agencies throughout the country that offer courses that may be approved for certain Veteran’s Administration (VA) and Federal Housing Administration (FHA) loans. Homebuyer education is typically required by housing agencies versus VA and FHA directly. These agencies provide tools and advice, answering the questions many first-time homebuyers have, such as, “What should my mortgage payment be in relation to my monthly salary?” and “Are there hidden costs to homeownership that I should know about?”

Homebuyer education courses by state

A great way to find a local homebuyer education course is to reach out to the state housing agency in your state. You can also search for a first-time homebuyer course online. However, if your mortgage lender requires you to take a class, you’ll want to check to see if they accept online courses before enrolling. The following are homebuyer education course options for each state. Additional housing counseling providers can be found on the HUD website.


This homebuyer education agency in Alabama offers courses in English and Spanish and is HUD certified as a HUD Approved Housing Counseling Agency.

Alabama Council on Human Relations Housing Counseling


This homebuyer education course provider in Alaska works in collaboration with eHome-America. Their goal is to make sure that you’re purchasing a home that you can afford to buy and afford to keep.

NeighborWorks Alaska Counseling and Education


The Greater Phoenix Urban League offers online homebuyer education courses to help families in the City of Phoenix and surrounding Arizona areas navigate the process of buying and keeping a home.

Greater Phoenix Urban League Homebuyer Education Courses


Designed for first-time homebuyers, this homebuyer education course benefits those eligible for the Arkansas Development Finance Authority’s homebuyer and down payment assistance programs.

Credit Counseling of Arkansas (CCOA) Homebuyer Education


The California Housing Finance Agency (CalHFA) requires homebuyer education and counseling for first-time homebuyers using a CalHFA program.

California Housing Finance Agency (CalHFA) Homebuyer Education


CRHDC is a HUD-approved Housing Counseling agency offering free counseling services and education in Colorado.

CRHDC Counseling and Education


Homebuyer education classes from The Housing Development Fund (HDF) in Connecticut are open to everyone, whether you’ve already applied for a mortgage or not.

Online and In-person Homebuyer Education from HDF


Housing Opportunities of Northern Delaware (HOND) offers an eight-hour course that covers the basics of homebuying. For example, household budgeting, credit awareness, shopping for a house, obtaining a mortgage and maintaining the home to avoid foreclosure.

HOND Homebuyer Education Program


NID Housing Counseling Agency is the largest African-American HUD-approved National Intermediary of Housing Counseling and Education across the United States, including Florida. Their free or low-cost homebuyer education includes one-on-one and group counseling.

NID Homebuyer Education Program


Georgia-based Totally Free provides comprehensive eight-hour HUD-approved training detailing steps to move from renting to owning.

Totally Free Homebuyer Education Workshops


The mission of Hawaii HomeOwnership Center is to provide education, information and support to create successful first-time homeowners in Hawaii.

Hawaii HomeOwnership Center Homebuyer Education Classes


GreenPath’s counseling and education in Idaho can help you navigate the process and make informed decisions.

GreenPath Homeownership Counseling


The Neighbor Project in Illinois will walk with you through each step of the homebuying process, helping you discover how to leverage your income into an asset.

The Neighbor Project Homebuyer Education


This Indiana-based program has several modules, taking a family through the essential steps in making their way to homeownership. Some of the information covered in the modules addresses budgets, shopping for a home wisely and cleaning up credit reports.

Community Action Program of Western Indiana Homeownership Education and Counseling


Horizons Financial Wellness Center in Iowa is approved by HUD to provide comprehensive housing counseling and education services.

Horizons Online Homebuyer Education


Housing and Credit Counseling (HCCI) offers approved online homebuying educational courses in Kansas, which provide a comprehensive look at the homebuying process and sets the foundation for purchasing the best home within your budget.

HCCI Homebuyer Webinar Educational Course


This homebuyer education course provider in Kentucky works in collaboration with eHome-America. It covers a wide range of information for prospective homeowners, so you’ll have the facts you need to navigate every step of the buying process.

Community Ventures Homebuyer Education


The Louisiana Housing Corporation’s homeownership (LHC) education counseling program can help you understand homeownership rights, privileges, and responsibilities.

LHC Homeownership Education Counseling Program


Avesta Housing in Maine offers an 8-hour class taught by certified housing counselors and industry professionals with expertise in their fields.

Avesta Homebuyer Education


Join Comprehensive Housing Assistance (CHAI) in Maryland at one of their monthly workshops to learn everything you need to know about becoming credit-ready, selecting a realtor, getting a mortgage and down payment incentives.

CHAI Homebuyer Education Workshops


The Massachusetts Affordable Housing Alliance (MAHA) offers information on working with real estate agents, choosing an affordable mortgage, accessing down payment and closing cost assistance, budgeting, planning, record keeping, home repair and taxes.

MAHA Homeownership University


Free class opportunities from the Habitat for Humanity Huron Valley, Michigan, are geared towards people thinking about purchasing a home. Habitat Housing Pre-Purchase/Homebuyer Education


Home Stretch 8-hour interactive online workshops help you prepare for a successful homebuying experience in Minnesota. You’ll walk through all the steps of purchasing a home and leave with a better understanding of how the whole process works.

Home Stretch Online Workshops


The 8-hour class hosted by Mercy Housing and Human Development in Mississippi steps the buyer through the entire process from credit ratings to available down payment assistance programs to escrow.

Mercy House Homebuyer Education


North East Community Action Corporation (NECAC) provides group and individual counseling to prospective Missouri homeowners to help them on the path to buying a home.

Homeownership Training


In partnership with NeighborWorks Montana, Headwaters RC&D offers in-depth information on all aspects of homeownership through a series of classes held throughout Headwaters economic development region on a bi-monthly basis.

Headwaters Homebuyer Education Class


High Plains Community Development Corp. (HPCDC) counselors are here to help you understand the homebuying process in Nebraska.

HPCDC Pre-Purchase and Homebuyer Education


Navicore Solutions’ certified housing counseling services enable Nevada consumers to make informed and reasonable decisions to achieve their housing goals.

Navicore Solutions’ Housing Counseling

New Hampshire

Affordable Housing Education and Development (AHEAD) provides a first-time homebuyers workshop that gives an overview of everything you need to know about the homebuying process.

AHEAD First Time Homebuyers Workshop

New Jersey

To assist those seeking homeownership for the first time in New Jersey, Neighborhood Housing Services of Camden (NHSC) offers counseling sessions that include an analysis of the participants’ financial situation, assessment of their ability to qualify for a mortgage, and development of a corrective action plan.

NHSC First-Time Homebuyers Education

New Mexico

Native Partnership for Housing (NPH) serves the housing and homeownership needs of Native and non-Native clients in the Four Corners region of New Mexico in both remote and urban areas.

NPH Homebuyer Education Classes

New York

The AHP Homeownership Center offers programs to promote successful and affordable homeownership in New York’s Capital Region.

AHP Homeownership Center Homebuyer Education Program

North Carolina

EmPOWERment, Inc. is a HUD Certified Housing Counseling Agency in North Carolina that offers an array of housing counseling services at no cost to the individual or family.

EmPOWERment Homebuyer Education Classes

North Dakota

Community Action is a certified housing counseling agency in North Dakota.

Community Action Pre-Purchase Homebuyer Education


Working In Neighborhoods (WIN) provides counseling on homebuying and home maintenance in Ohio.

WIN’s Financial and Homeownership Counseling


If you plan to purchase a home in Oklahoma, consider attending Community Action Resource and Development (CARD) homebuyer education classes. These courses will provide you with the necessary tools to make an informed decision about if homeownership is right for you.

CARD Homebuyer Education Classes


HomeSource of NeighborImpact offers public workshops and online homebuyer education to help guide your path to homeownership in Oregon.

NeighborImpact Homebuyer Education


If you’re in the market to buy a home in Pennsylvania, Advantage Credit Counseling Service (CCS) can prepare you for every step of the process. Their homebuying workshops will help you understand the loan process, mortgage options and insurance needs.

Advantage CCS Pre-Purchase Counseling

Rhode Island

As a certified HUD Housing Counseling Agency, the Providence Housing Authority (PHA) offers homeownership counseling services in Rhode Island.

PHA Homeownership Services

South Carolina

Consumer Credit Counseling Service (CCCS) of South Carolina offers a free first-time homebuyer workshop. The workshop provides information on financing options, pre-qualifying for a mortgage, down-payment programs, working with a real estate professional, making an offer on a home, home inspections, homeowner’s insurance, closing a loan transaction and fair housing.

CCCS First-Time Homebuyer Workshop

South Dakota

Lutheran Social Services (LSS) of South Dakota offers a free homebuyer education program that provides the information and resources available to purchase and own a home successfully.

LSS Workshop: Homebuyer Education


Community Housing Partnership (CHP) of Tennessee provides homebuyers education courses that walk clients through the complete homebuying process—from shopping to maintaining a home.

CHP Homebuyers Education


Frameworks Community Development Corporation (CDC) educates Texas families not only about buying a home but keeping it through a comprehensive pre-purchase homebuyer education program.

Frameworks CDC online Homebuyer Education Classes


Neighborhood Nonprofit Housing Corporation (NNHC) is a HUD-approved Housing Counseling agency providing services to households across Utah.

NNHC Housing Counseling Services


Champlain Housing Trust (CHT) offers online and in-person homebuyer education workshops to help buyers in Vermont make sense of the complicated process of buying a home.

CHT Homebuyer Education Workshops


Virginia Housing offers a one-day free homebuyer class where you’ll learn the entire homebuying process from start to finish and how to stay on track as a responsible homeowner. The course is offered in English or Spanish, in person or online.

Virginia Housing Free Homebuyer Class


Community Frameworks guides families on their path to homeownership across Washington state.

Community Frameworks Homebuyer Education

West Virginia

HomeOwnership Center of West Virginia offers affordable, comprehensive full-day Homebuyer Education Seminars (HBE seminars) that cover everything you need to know about making the best home purchasing decisions for you and your family.

HomeOwnership Center Homebuyer Education Program


Purchasing a home is one of the most important financial decisions most people make. The homebuyer education classes taught by the NeighborWorks Green Bay’s staff will help create a strong foundation for both your homebuying and homeownership experience.

NeighborWorks Green Bay’s Homebuyer Education Class


Wyoming Housing Network’s (WHN) homebuyer education and counseling program provides borrowers with all the information and resources necessary to stay informed, make decisions, and ensure long-term sustainability.

WHN Homebuyer Education

Do mortgage lenders give special rates to those who complete homebuyer education programs?

By completing a homebuyer education program and earning a HUD-approved certificate, you may be eligible for an affordable lending program depending on your financial eligibility.

Are you ready to start down the path towards homeownership? Talk to a loan officer to learn more about homebuyer education course requirements.

The above information is for educational purposes only. All information, loan programs and interest rates are subject to change without notice. All loans subject to underwriter approval. Terms and conditions apply. Always consult an accountant or tax advisor for full eligibility requirements on tax deduction.

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About the Author: Guild Mortgage

Founded in 1960 when the modern U.S. mortgage industry was just forming, Guild Mortgage Company is a nationally recognized independent mortgage lender providing residential mortgage products and local in-house origination and servicing. Guild’s collaborative culture and commitment to diversity and inclusion enable it to deliver a personalized experience for each customer. With more than 4,000 employees and over 250 retail branches, Guild has relationships with credit unions, community banks, and other financial institutions and services loans in 49 states and the District of Columbia. Guild’s highly trained loan professionals are experienced in government-sponsored programs such as FHA, VA, USDA, down payment assistance programs and other specialized loan programs. Guild Mortgage Company is a wholly owned subsidiary of Guild Holdings Company, whose shares of Class A common stock trade on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol GHLD.