AMES, Iowa -- Iowa State University Extension has a new online course to help first-time homebuyers learn about the process of buying a home. Education is the first step in purchasing a home of your own.
That, in fact, is the name of the new online course, A Place of Your Own. Mary Yearns, ISU Extension housing specialist, worked to convert the information she teaches in the classroom to a Web course.
“In five lessons, people will prepare for the responsibilities of homeownership and learn about looking for a home that fits their needs and budget,” Yearns says. “There are study questions at the end of each lesson to help people prepare for the final exam, pass it and receive a certificate they can take to a lender.”
USDA Rural Development has a new requirement as of May 7, 2007, that first time homebuyers must complete education from a certified provider to qualify for rural housing loans. These loans are made to qualified households, providing them access to affordable, safe and sanitary housing.
Mark Reisinger, Iowa’s director for USDA Rural Development, says last year his department provided Iowans with $125 million in housing assistance and helped more than 1,300 families become homeowners. “Often the people who qualify don’t have experience dealing with the finances of purchasing a home and managing their assets,” Reisinger said. He noted the people who qualify for the program cover a wide range, from single individuals, people starting out after finishing college, to families who lack a down payment.
“This nationwide initiative to require certified education is to help people better prepare for homeownership and lower the default rate on loans,” says Reisinger. “Iowa State’s online course lets people fit the studying in when they have time. The extension course is innovative and more interactive than simply reading lesson material.”
Yearns says the course provides valuable information for any first-time home buyer, whether they qualify for special loans or not. When Yearns teaches the course around the state, she says people spend six to 10 hours in class and studying, depending upon how familiar they are with financial and housing terms. She expects the same time commitment to be common with the online course.
The course is available anytime, anywhere from any computer with Internet access. The cost including the certificate is $45. Computers at public libraries, ISU Extension county offices across the state or USDA offices are options for those who don’t own a computer. For information and to enroll, go to www.extension.iastate.edu/homebuyer.