Buying a home can be frustrating and intimidating, particularly for first-timers. Wouldn't it be great if there was a short class you could take that taught you the ins and outs of the process?

Actually, there are. Many states offer homebuyer education classes, often through their state housing authorities, university extension services or other nonprofit entities. These courses cover such things as shopping for homes, evaluating properties, price negotiation, obtaining a mortgage, insurance needs and other aspects of the homebuying process.

These classes are commonly available. Surprisingly though, many potential homebuyers are unaware that they're even out there.

Boosts homeowners success rates

In Texas, they're trying to do something about that. Two major entities in the state's housing market are teaming up to raise awareness of these programs and promote them to potential homebuyers. Called " "Get Ready: Making Texans Homeowners for Life," the campaign is a joint initiative of the Texas State Affordable Housing Corporation (TSAHC) and the Texas Association of Realtors (TAR).

"Studies have shown that homebuyers who receive pre-purchase education are one-third less likely to fall behind on their mortgages by 90 days or more, compared to homebuyers who didn't take a homebuyer education course," said David Long, TSAHC president. "We know that Texas realtors want their clients to be successful homeowners, so partnering with the Texas Association of Realtors to spread the word about these programs to the public was a natural fit."

Along with instruction on the process of buying a home, many of these programs also seek to teach fiscal literacy, addressing such topics as understanding credit, reducing debt and determining if one is financially ready to buy a home. Information on obtaining down payment assistance and low-cost loans is often included as well.

Similar programs in other states

Although the TSAHC/TAR initiative focuses on Texas homebuyers and homebuyer education programs in that state, such classes and programs are available in most, if not all states nationwide. Some are actual sit-down classes where you can come in and meet with an instructor knowledgeable in the homebuying process, who can provide personalized instruction, while others may be offered online or provide a range of written materials for participants.

More information on the Texas program is available at GetReadyTX.org. For residents of other states, simply do an Internet search using the name of your state and the phrase "homebuyer education" to get started finding a provider in your area.

Published on April 8, 2014