Workshops teach first-time buyers the language, the process and the results.
When Brianne and Chris Marks of Whitman set out to buy their first home, they knew how to talk the talk and walk the walk after spending 10 hours in a first-time home buyers workshop.
“You think you know so much about it, but when you get started in the process the terms and situations come flying at you,” said Chris Marks, who as the son of a Realtor had a jump start. “If you didn’t take the time to learn all that, it’s extremely frustrating. It was definitely worth it to us, it made the whole process easier.”
The Marks bought their home in Whitman in June, the day before their wedding and amid a heightened interest by first-time home buyers who are taking advantage of lower prices resulting from a downturn in the real estate market as foreclosures continue.
By definition, a first-time home buyer is someone who has never owned a home before or has not owned one for the past five years, according to Joe Medaio of Neighborhood Housing Services, the agency that offers programs in Brockton and surrounding communities.
After offering the classes several times a year, Neighborhood Housing is stepping up its schedule and, in conjunction with HarborOne, has scheduled monthly programs, including some for foreign-speaking clients. This month, the workshops are offered in Cape Verdean; in October, the programs will be presented in French.
South Shore Housing of Kingston also offers workshops for new buyers.
Typically, a program includes presentations from Realtors, bankers, home inspectors, attorneys and credit counselors.
It is time well spent, said Mary Nardone, a Realtor with Weichert Realtors Briarwood Real Estate in Easton. Some lenders even require the course for first-time buyers.
“They’ve been kind of locked behind closed doors for so long with (high) prices, but they’ve come out now,” Nardone said. “They’re doing a lot of shopping, they’re not making quick decisions.”
Eighty-four percent of today’s first-time buyers get their first look at real estate on the Internet, then go to open houses, according to Nardone. Those who have taken the course come prepared, she said.
“They’re coming with pre-approval in their hands and you know it’s from a good place,” said Nardone
Though the mortgage market has tightened in the wake of the easy-money era that led to today’s rage of foreclosures, Mike Travers of Jack Conway Co. in Bridgewater and regional vice president of the Massachusetts Association of Realtors, said there is money available for first-time buyers.
But buyers should not expect rock bottom prices or quick sales, especially when looking at bank-owned or foreclosed properties.
“The name of the game is patience,” he said, including a stop at a workshop for first-time buyers.
Elaine Allegrini can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.