Before I began working at the Minnesota Homeownership Center, I knew as much about the home buying process as your average twenty-something.
In other words, I didn't know much.
I knew that affordable homeownership is the cornerstone of thriving neighborhoods. I didn't know just how much I didn't know about buying a home. That’s why homebuyer education is so important. Buying a home is likely the largest purchase any of us will make in our lifetimes, so it pays to be prepared and have at least enough information to advocate for your family’s best interest.
Because the Center oversees a network of agencies that provide Home Stretch (homebuyer education) Workshops across the state, new employees are asked to join a class to get a sense of our flagship program.
The folks at Community Neighborhood Housing Service – one of more than 30 Home Stretch providers– were kind enough to let me sit in on a portion of their Saturday class in St. Paul.
Our facilitator began the afternoon session by talking about real estate basics, before introducing a local Realtor who schooled us in how and why people buy – or want to buy- where they do. Realtors aren't ethically allowed to steer their clients away from or toward certain neighborhoods, which is something I didn't know. The workshop format allows plenty of time to ask questions, both of the facilitator and the guest speakers, experts in their field who volunteer their time to teach new homebuyers. My classmates (the ones who were actually, you know, buying a house) swapped stories about their experiences so far, and I think we all learned something new.
My favorite guest speaker was the professional home inspector. With more than 20 years of experience, this inspector had seen some pretty major problems in folks’ prospective dwellings. In addition to teaching us how to find a reliable inspector and make the most of the inspection process, he shared some little-known home safety tips.
The average age of homeownership in Minnesota is 29, so we’ll see if that happens for me. Either way, I’m glad I observed this class – it definitely provides lots of valuable information that could prevent headaches down the road!