Online Homebuyer Education Takes Off; HomeSmart Suspended

eHomeAmerica logoA consumer preference for online homebuyer education has prompted North Dakota Housing Finance Agency to suspend HomeSmart, an agency program that encouraged first-time buyers to prepare for homeownership by completing a classroom workshop.

“Online education offers first-time homebuyers the ability to access courses at their convenience,” said Dave Flohr, NDHFA’s homeownership division director. “Providers have ceased offering classroom courses over time primarily due to lack of attendance.”

The last classroom course that qualified for NDHFA’s HomeSmart program ceased being offered in January 2016. The suspension is effective as of March 1.

To address the consumer trend, NDHFA, The Village Family Service Center and CommunityWorks North Dakota partnered in 2012 to offer homebuyer education online through eHome America, www.ndhfa.org/Homeownership/EducationInfo.html. Since that time, 535 North Dakota households have completed the online course.

The fee for the eHome America course is $99. NDHFA provides a discount that lowers the fee to $49. Funds previously budgeted for the HomeSmart program will be redirected to support the online course.

HomeSmart provided mortgagors who successfully completed an agency-approved classroom workshop with a $100 grant to assist with closing costs. Over the 17 years the program was offered, 728 households received the grants. Program activity peaked in 1999 and 2000 with approximately 100 households receiving a grant each year. More recently, program use had declined to an average of 20 grants per year.

A self-supporting state agency, NDHFA helps low- to moderate-income North Dakota households successfully achieve homeownership by offering homebuyer education, down payment and closing cost assistance, and affordable mortgage loans. For more information on the agency’s programs, contact NDHFA at (800) 292-8621 or hfainfo@nd.gov.

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