There are many ways to find a house. First, we want to make sure you have the knowledge and skills necessary to navigate the home buying process. Way Finder’s First-time Home Buyer Workshop features guest speakers, including local real estate agents and mortgage lenders that will provide their first-hand experience and knowledge on the process. We can also refer you to a list of local real estate agents who are trusted in the community.
FAQs for Home buyers
Following are common questions we receive from home buyer and their answers.
I want to buy a house. How do I find one?
How do I qualify for Way Finders First-time Homebuyer program?
Way Finders workshops are open to the public.
What would I gain from the First-time Homebuyers Program?
A lot! You would learn the ins and outs of the home buying process, including the pros and cons of homeownership, looking for a realtor, the importance of a home inspection, and much, much more. You would also earn an official Certificate of Completion that would qualify you for certain loan products as well as down payment assistance. Finally, you would be eligible for counseling and coaching to help you build your financial standing, increase your knowledge base, and enter the home buying process prepared to become a successful homeowner.
I have a Section 8 voucher. Can I still participate in the First-time Homebuyer Program? Are there special programs for me?
Yes! If your voucher is administered by Way Finders, we recommend that you first get in touch with our Family Self-Sufficiency Program. Feel free to contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information on programs that benefit Way Finders Section 8 voucher recipients.
Regardless of what agency administers your voucher, you are welcome to participate in our workshops.
I have bad credit. Can I still take this program?
Yes. We have tailored our programming to benefit clients at every stage of the process, whether you’re looking for a new home or just to build your credit and budgeting skills. You may want to start off in a Financial Education Workshop.
How do I sign up for a First-time Homebuyer workshop?
We have a list of upcoming Workshops and Events that can be found here.
Where are Way Finders' workshops located?
We hold workshops in a few different locations. Our primary location is at our Way Finders office at 322 Main St. in Springfield. We also hold a number of workshops at the Massachusetts Green High Performance Computing Center (MGHPCC), located at 100 Bigelow St. in Holyoke. Be sure to note the location of your workshop when you’re registering. Your ticket confirmation will also include details on the date, time, and location of your workshop.
Can I take a First Time Homebuyer Workshop online? Are they the same course?
There is also a difference in pricing for the workshops. The in-person version of the workshop is $50 plus processing, whereas the online version of the workshop is $75 plus processing. If your closing is not happening soon, we would highly reccomend taking the in-person version, but both are available at your convenience.
Are your workshops offered in Spanish?
Yes. Check out the Home Buyers section or more information.
Can I bring my child to a workshop?
No. You must make arrangements, as we are unable to provide childcare service and space in workshops is limited
Can I take a Landlord Workshop online?
Not at this time. The Landlord Workshop is only available in person, but it comes with our Rental Property Management Manual included in the price of the course.
How long is the certificate valid?
The official Certificate of Completion from our First Time Homebuyer Workshops (both in-person and online) is valid for two years from your completion date. If you are unsure that you will be closing on a home within two years of completing the course, you may want to wait.
You may also want to start with a Financial Education Workshop.
Is the certificate you get from Way Finders’ First-time Homebuyer workshops only valid for Springfield, or can I use my certificate elsewhere?
The certificate from our First-time Homebuyer Workshops, Landlord Workshops, Post-Purchase Workshops, and Financial Education Workshops are valid across the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. They are in no way limited to either Springfield or Western Massachusetts. Please check with your mortgage lender if you are purchasing outside of Massachusetts.
I’ve taken Way Finders First-time Homebuyer Program workshop in the past year. How do I get my certificate?
Way Finders will provide an official Certificate Request Form for you to complete with your loan officer. Your loan officer will have the details to complete the Certificate Request Form with you. As soon as we receive this form, completed and signed by both you and your loan officer, we will send your certificate directly to the loan officer, and mail a physical copy to you. Email email@example.com if you have any questions or concerns or need a copy of this form.
I’ve taken a First-time Homebuyer Workshop. What can I do with my certificate?
Our First Time Homebuyer Workshop is certified by HUD, National Industry Standard for Homebuyer Education, and CHAPA and meets the requirements of state and local financing programs. When you’re applying for a MassHousing loan, an MHP ONE loan, or down payment assistance, you will be asked for the Certificate of Completion from an approved First Time Homebuyer Workshop.
I took Way Finders' workshop more than two years ago. Do I have to take it again?
Yes. Your certificate has expired and you will need to be re-certified in order to qualify for programs.
Do you offer down payment assistance or help with closing costs?
Yes, but assistance is currently limited to homes being purchased in Belchertown. The official Certificate of Completion from our First-time Homebuyer Workshops (both in-person and online) will help you apply for down payment assistance. Way Finders can provide up to $5,000 in down payment assistance as a forgivable loan.
Do Way Finders workshops help for people who want to buy a house outside of Massachusetts?
Our workshops are geared toward those purchasing in Massachusetts. See HUD's website for more information on workshops.
What different kinds of loans are available, and how do I know which one is right for me?
You can learn about different loan types by taking our First-time Homebuyer Workshop. Or, you can schedule a phone appointment with one of our counselors for more immediate answers. We’re here to help you make the right decision for your home.
How can I find out if I am qualified to get pre-approved for a mortgage?
Our best suggestion would be to log on to www.mymassmortgage.org for information on qualifying for loans in Massachusetts. My Mass Mortgage has an affordability and budget calculator so you can figure out where you currently stand, it has information on loan products specifically offered in Massachusetts, along with a list of lenders that offer them. It’s a great first step to exploring the home buying process.
I’ve seen commercials for credit score websites. Is there one that you recommend?
For those who attend and graduate from our Financial Education Workshop, we will provide you with a free soft pull of your credit report from the three credit reporting agencies*. We also provide free credit counseling upon graduation of the Financial Education Workshop.*This report includes a FICO score from each of the three credit bureaus, data permitting.
For your full credit report, we recommend visiting www.annualcreditreport.com. Everyone in America is entitled to a free credit report once a year, and this website will allow you to pull all three credit reports from the three credit reporting agencies (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion).
Credit Karma(www.creditkarma.com) will provide your free credit score, and a wealth of information about what affects your score, both positive and negative. We recommend the Credit Karma app so you can follow changes in your score from month to month. Note that Credit Karma uses Vantage Score 3.0, which is not the same as a FICO score.
I want to become a landlord. How can I do that?
We encourage you to register for our Rental Property Management Workshop, taught by Way Finders’ Fair Housing officer who compiled the Rental Property Management Manual (included in the price of the course).
I just closed on my house. Does Way Finders offer any other workshops that can help me in the future?
Yes. We offer a free Homeowner 201/HomeSafe Workshop for those that have closed on their homes and would like more information on maintenance, upkeep, dealing with tenants, and much more. This HomeSafe workshop is required for those who close a ONE Mortgage loan within one year of their closing.
In addition, those interested in becoming a landlord, or those who have closed on a multi-family house, are encouraged to register for our Rental Property Management Workshop.
We also offer our Financial Education free of charge to the public, and anyone is welcome.
What if I don’t want to buy a house right now? Can Way Finders still help me?
If you’re not ready to buy a house, or you’re unsure if now is the right time, that’s actually one of the smartest, most mature ways to approach this process. If you take the time to prepare yourself in the beginning, maximizing your knowledge base and preparing your finances and credit situation, you’ll be in a much better position to accomplish your goals once you decide you’re ready to purchase.
Can I schedule an appointment to speak to someone?
Absolutely. For questions about Homeownership and Financial Education, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org for more information. A Homeownership Advisor will contact you to set up an appointment.