AMES, Iowa -- Iowa had the ninth-highest rate of home foreclosures in the nation at the end of the first quarter of 2007. “These foreclose rates point out that Iowans need to learn about different types of mortgages and how to find a good loan for their situation whether their income is high or low,” said Mary Yearns, housing specialist with Iowa State University Extension.
Yearns is the instructor for a new online course, A Place of Your Own, designed to help people prepare for the home buying process. The course helps participants know when to buy a home, how to shop for an appropriate mortgage and budget for mortgage payments and other typical homeowner expenses.
Iowa State faculty taught the course in a traditional classroom format. The online version debuted in late June. Thirty-four people have enrolled in the online course; 32 have earned a certificate of completion. Besides Iowans, residents of Illinois, Missouri and Nebraska have enrolled. “An online course is accessible to all potential homebuyers, anytime and anywhere. This is particularly helpful for rural Iowans who may not have an on-site class near them,” said Yearns.
The ISU Extension homeowner course is approved by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Rural Development and by the Iowa Finance Authority. Both agencies work to help lower-income people purchase homes.
“The lack of homeownership education is a well-known barrier to successful homeownership for many families,” said Mark Reisinger, USDA Rural Development State Director in Iowa.
As of May 2007, USDA Rural Development requires first-time homebuyers to complete education from a certified provider to qualify for the agency’s rural housing loans. “Homeownership remains a central part of the American Dream, “Reisinger said. “Requiring people to learn about the process first increases their decision making skills.”
Bret Mills, Executive Director of the Iowa Finance Authority, adds, “We encourage all first time owners to invest in homeowner education to help prepare for homeownership. Successful homeowners take pride in their homes and communities. They provide a stable and healthy environment for children and become involved in neighborhoods and communities.”
“Our goal is to give people the knowledge and skills they need to be successful homeowners,” said Yearns. Information about the course is at www.extension.iastate.edu/homebuyer.