AMES, Iowa — USDA Rural Development and other lending agencies require first-time homebuyers to complete education from a certified provider to qualify for the agency’s rural housing loans. But getting access to that education can be a challenge for rural residents.
“Homebuyer education often is offered in classroom-type settings in locations throughout the state and during certain times of the year. Many times the locations are not convenient or cost efficient for rural residents,” said Mary Weinand, a family finance specialist with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach.
To meet the need for convenient, cost efficient and timely homebuyer education, ISU Extension and Outreach collaborated with USDA to develop an online alternative. The resulting course, A Place of Your Own, is available anytime, anywhere from any computer with Internet access. The cost to take the course, including the certificate of completion, is $45. Computers at public libraries, ISU Extension and Outreach offices across the state or USDA offices are options for those who don’t own a computer.
The five-lesson course covers preparing for home ownership, shopping for a home, getting a mortgage, closing the loan and being a homeowner.
“The online course will help prospective homebuyers decide if now is a good time to buy a home, prepare for the home-buying process and shop for a mortgage that works best for them. The course can provide the buyer with confidence about the steps to buy a home and the financial planning that goes with it,” Weinand said.
“When you complete all the lessons, you may take the certification exam. When you have 70 percent or more correct on the final exam, you will receive a homebuyer’s certificate that you may take to your local lender. You need this certificate to apply for a USDA Rural Development loan,” Weinand added.
Information about the course can be found at www.extension.iastate.edu/homebuyer.