Today’s “Ask the Expert” column features Matt Vernon, Home Loans Sales Executive for Bank of America.
Q: Why is it so important to connect with clients and share resources that prepare them for homeownership?
A: For many years, certain home loans required that first-time homebuyers complete a HUD-approved homebuyer education program. Today, homebuyer education has become much more than just a product-specific requirement. It is now business as usual.
Homebuyer education programs play a role in regulatory compliance, as the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau rules require pre-purchase education if homebuyers choose to take out higher-cost loans. Other types of educational resources address consumers’ desire to understand and prepare themselves for the home-buying process, as well as the intricacies of obtaining a home loan and understanding the different types of mortgages available.
Thankfully, lenders, non-profit organizations, government agencies and many others have begun to offer educational tools and resources to consumers, or have made significant advancements to their existing tools to make them easier to use, more interactive and more current.
At Bank of America, we know that consumers are especially focused on budgeting, saving and understanding credit and money management—all skills that are needed to prepare for home buying. Since these preparatory skills lay the groundwork for successfully meeting numerous financial goals throughout life, we want to help consumers learn the “how” and “why” of personal finance by offering online resources that are easy to access and user-friendly. That’s why Bank of America has teamed up with Sal Khan and the Khan Academy on BetterMoneyHabits.com, an initiative dedicated to helping consumers develop better everyday financial habits.
BetterMoneyHabits.com offers videos to help people prepare to buy a home by taking a bite-sized and easily digestible approach, including:
- “How to set a budget and stick to it,” viewed more than 650,000 times.
- “Steps to help you get out of debt,” viewed more than 2 million times.
- “Understanding how mortgage rates work”
- “Planning for extra costs when buying a home”
- “How much home can you comfortably afford?”
Agents who connect prospective clients with educational resources demonstrate they want to build a relationship. Connecting people with tools that help them meet financial goals, including preparing for homeownership, positions an agent as a trusted advocate—a professional who is concerned about more than just a single real estate transaction.
In today’s connected world, spreading the word about tools like BetterMoneyHabits.com can be easily integrated into an agent’s social media strategy. Of course, clients have different preferences and needs, so remember that many communities offer more traditional homebuyer education programs as well.