We have two ways buyers can get a first-time homebuyer certificate - either by taking our in-person first-time homebuyer workshop ($100 per household) meeting in Newburyport or by taking the Framework online course ($75 per household) followed by a one-on-one consultation ($25) conducted by phone.
Buyers completing the in-person workshops get the CHAPA certificate, which is good for Mass Housing, the MHP One Mortgage, and other more local programs offered by local lenders. The workshops meet from noon to about 5 pm on Saturday and Sunday in downtown Newburyport. The address and parking arrangements are given to all registered households. We are not able to accommodate walk-ins.
Buyers doing the Framework program go through a set of seven modules, in their own time, answering a set of questions at the end of each module. Some people complete the program in a day or two, others may take longer depending on how often they log on. Once they have completed all the modules, we schedule a phone call in which they get to ask any questions they may still have. Those who complete the Framework program get the nationally recognized HUD certificate.
Occasionally a buyer takes the in-person workshop but later gets into a mortgage program that requires a HUD certificate. They can then take the Framework program, but I will waive the consultation.
When people ask me which first time homebuyer program is better, it’s difficult to say because each has its own advantages. The in-person workshop includes guest speakers who actually work in their field, their area of the whole real estate process. Participants get to ask questions of a home inspector, a lawyer, a realtor, or a mortgage originator. I explain it as a safe harbor. You can ask questions without having to make decisions. This may be better for people just starting out, who are just learning about the whole idea of buying their first home.
The Framework program, though, can be done quickly without having to wait for our next scheduled workshop. Occasionally I hear from people who are closing on their home very soon but now realize they need a certificate. They may need it within a week or just a few days. The Framework program is for them, especially if we just finished a workshop and won’t have another one that month.
The best time to take a first time homebuyer workshop is as early in the process as possible. People who take it at the end have consistently told me over the years that they wish they had taken it sooner.
So now we have two options. In-person and online. If you have any questions, please email me at EOLeary@CoastalHB.org. Our schedule is listed on our blog and each workshop is listed on the CHAPA site.
Ellie O’Leary, Executive Director, Coastal Homebuyer Education Inc.