Easy, convenient online course helps first-time home buyers

If you are looking to buy a home, we may be able to help you with some down payment assistance. It’s one of the many services we offer to help encourage home ownership.

Before getting financial help from us – or anyone else – for a down payment, if you’re a first-time homebuyer, you’ll need to get some education. We’ve mentioned this before, but it bears repeating – our online course on home buyer education is easy, convenient, inexpensive, and required for many different lending programs, including ours.

Here in Washington, it’s now called HomeSage.org.


For just $45 – soon to go up to $50 – you can complete the course at your own pace, at the time that’s convenient for you in the privacy and convenience of your own home or anywhere there’s an internet connection.

Created by our parent organization, NeighborWorks of America and Venture, this course is recognized throughout the industry. It takes about six to eight hours to complete.

It includes animated videos, easy-to-read content, and module quizzes throughout to ensure your complete understanding of the home buying processes. It also includes a one-on-one advisory session with our HUD certified housing counselor – that’s someone at our office here in Aberdeen – usually by phone.

The course is also available in Spanish!

Based on the NeighborWorks America’s “Realizing the American Dream” curriculum, Homesage.org is the only internet homebuyer education curriculum in Washington that meets the National Industry Standards. It also means the course certificate has more value to HUD, USDA, and lenders that require it for some of their loan products.

At the successful completion of this simple course, you will receive a certificate of completion that will make you eligible for our down payment assistance funds as well as any Washington State Housing Finance Commission Funds.

In addition, as we mentioned, if you are hoping to have your home financed through the United State Department of Agriculture (USDA), this course is required. USDA down payment assistance can be used in many parts of Grays Harbor County to purchase a new home.


With crazy job schedules and so many other conflicts to work around, the go-at-your-own-pace format of this online instruction should suit everyone’s individual needs.

The comprehensive curriculum lays out what steps to take when preparing to buy a home, tells you what questions to ask and what pitfalls to avoid.

Another benefit of this program is that it offers an unbiased approach.

Produced by a non-profit organization, the only “bias” it has is to make sure students become well educated potential home buyers. It has no other “dog in the hunt”.


There are many different sources of down payment assistance – one of them is us here at NeighborWorks of Grays Harbor.

To be eligible for this particular pot of money, folks need to make anywhere from 50 percent to 120 percent of the area median income.

Here’s what those parameters look like this year:

• A 1-person household can make between $19,400 and $46,560;

• A 2-person household can make between $22,200 and $53,280;

• A 3-person household can make between $24,950 and $59,880;

• A 4-person household can make between $27,700 and $66,480;

• A 5-person household can make between $29,950 and $71,160;

• A 6-person household can make between $32,150 and $77,160;

• A 7-person household can make between $34,350 and $82,440;

• And an 8-person household can make between $36,600 and $87,840 a year.


Even if you don’t need help with down payment funds, this course is great to complete before talking to your banker and realtor. For one thing, your effort shows them that you are a true potential buyer, not just a looky-loo.

Also, it saves both you and them time, because when you’ve completed the course you should know exactly how much you can afford to spend on a new house.


Home prices are still relatively low, housing stock plentiful and interest rates remain appealing, which means you get more house for the money.

So, if you’re thinking that you might buy a home soon, it’s important to do your homework and become educated before you talk with your favorite lender and realtor.

It’s helpful for everyone involved in the process when the potential buyer is educated in the home-buying process. It makes the process shorter and the homeownership more successful.

Dave Murnen and Pat Beaty are construction specialists at NeighborWorks® of Grays Harbor County, where Murnen is the executive director. This is a non-profit organization committed to creating safe and affordable housing opportunities for all residents of Grays Harbor County.

Do you have questions about home repair, renting, remodeling or becoming a homeowner? Call us at 533-7828, write us or visit us at 710 E. Market St. in Aberdeen.