Buying a home is one of the most important emotional and financial decisions you’ll ever make. So, shouldn’t you be prepared with all the information you need to make it a smooth, stress-free, and financially sustainable process? Of course! That’s why many experts recommend that you receive homebuyer counseling and take an education course before buying your first home. Clearpoint offers counseling online and over the phone, and provides a self-paced online education course called Essentials for Buying Your First Home. We’ll teach you skills like:
- Preparing your credit for the mortgage process, and determining an affordable home price
- Choosing a loan and evaluating various loan terms and fees
- Understanding the various roles in the homebuying process (realtors, settlement attorneys, inspectors, appraisers, underwriters, loan processors, and brokers)
- Organizing your finances and preparing for successful long-term homeownership
Do you want to learn more about the homebuying process before signing the dotted line? If so, Clearpoint’s homebuyer counseling and education might be right for you.
Note: If you’re looking for an in-person workshop instead (offered in a select few states), go here.
How It Works
If it sounds like our homebuyer counseling and education might benefit you, watch the video and keep reading below to learn more about how it works.
Exactly “how it works” will depend on the combination of education and counseling you choose. You can choose to receive counseling only, take the education course only, or take the education course and receive counseling.
1. Define your goals for the program.
Before beginning, make sure you understand what you hope to get from the program and why exactly you are taking it. Having this self-awareness before you begin will allow you to get the most from the program, and ensure that you take away the information and confidence you need moving forward.
Note: if you are taking this program because of requirements from your lender, or as an opportunity to receive benefits from your lender (such as a reduced mortgage rate), you will need to double check that Clearpoint’s program will qualify.
2. Select the type of service.
You will choose between taking the education course only, counseling only, or the education course and counseling. If you choose to receive counseling, you will also need to choose between online counseling and phone counseling. The online counseling is a two hour program, and the phone counseling typically takes an hour. Be sure to check the fees section below to read about differences in cost between these two types of counseling, and check with your lender (if applicable) before making your selection.
3. Evaluate your budget and current financial standing (counseling).
A critical part of the counseling is taking a close look at your current monthly budget. You’ll provide a detailed list of income and expenses, and your counselor will provide information from your credit report, along with your credit score. This will allow you and your counselor to talk about where you stand currently, and how homeownership fits into the equation. You will then run your budget numbers again, using hypothetical figures for once you are a homeowner. This helpful exercise allows you to compare your current monthly budget to your future monthly budget. After the counseling is finished, you’ll receive a packet with an action plan based on this information.
4. Learn important details about the process (counseling).
Your counseling session will also cover some important aspects of the homebuying process, giving you tips and resources to help you move forward. Expect to cover topics like choosing a realtor, comparison shopping for a home loan, the closing process, and tips for avoiding foreclosure.
5. Learn even more (education course).
If you opt to take the education course, called Essentials for Buying your First Home, you’ll also learn many important details about the homebuying process, along with tips and advice for evaluating your financial situation. The course covers five main lessons:
- Thinking about Home Ownership
- Getting My Finances in Order
- Finding My First Home
- Buying My First Home
- Managing My First Home
6. Assess what you’ve learned (education course).
In the course, you’ll take a pre-test before you before you begin learning, and then a post-test at the conclusion of the course. This is a great way to evaluate what you’ve learned, and your goal will be to score 80 percent or higher on the post-test.
7. Receive your certificates (counseling and education course).
Whether you take counseling, the education course or both, you will receive a certificate of completion that you can pass on to your lender or any other third-party who requires it.
Here is a breakdown of fees for our counseling and education:
Online (two hours): $50
Phone (one hour): Free
Essentials for Buying Your First Home
Online course (six hours): $25
Some Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some commonly asked questions (and answers!) about our homebuyer counseling and education.
Is Clearpoint’s counseling and education approved for down payment assistance programs, or other lender programs?
Yes, our counseling and education qualify for many programs, but it is your responsibility to ensure that your lender or other third-party will accept the certificate you earn from us. Double check with them before moving forward.
I’ve been referred by FHLB (Federal Home Loan Bank)–are there special instructions for me?
Yes, if you have been referred as part of our program with FHLB, please call 877.585.8307 for counseling over the phone. Please also have your 10-digit reservation number when calling.
How long does the counseling and education take?
Phone counseling takes about an hour, online counseling takes two hours, and the online education course takes six. Remember that your lender may require a specific time duration (often eight hours), so you may need to take the online course and counseling to qualify.
What are the hours for counseling?
If you choose online counseling, you can complete most of the process at any time and at your own pace. However, there is a component of the online counseling that involves chatting with a counselor. Chat and phone counselors are available Monday-Friday, 8am-6pm (CST). Please call 800.750.2227 to begin or schedule a telephone appointment.
What type of payment do you accept?
Payments for online counseling and the education course are processed through Paypal.
When will I receive my certificate?
Certificates from the education course are provided immediately upon completion. Counseling certificates are provided within 72 business hours.
Can I start the online education and counseling and come back later to finish it?
Yes. The online education course and counseling are both self-paced. You can save your progress and return later to finish.
Does the counseling involve a credit inquiry?
Yes, the homebuyer counseling requires a credit inquiry. This is a “soft” pull of your credit, however, and will not affect your credit score or show on any third party credit report requests.
Does Clearpoint offer in-person homebuyer workshops?
Yes, we offer in-person workshops in a select few states. You can learn more about them here.
For more questions and answers, be sure to check out our full FAQ for homebuyer counseling and education.
Ready to move forward? Here are the ways to get started: